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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity and Islam in Europe today, 31 Dec 2007
This review is from: God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis (Hardcover)
This is the third in Jenkins' fascinating series looking at global Christianity and it follows "The Next Christendom" and "The New Faces Of Christianity" but this time focusing on Christianity in Europe and the perceived threat of Islam. Reading this book was an enjoyable experience and a welcome antidote to the paranoia often seen in the media and in churches, at least with regard to the future of Christianity. Jenkins shows, using statistics and with a look through the history of Christianity in Europe, that despite the increase in secularisation and the reduction in numbers of believers, Christianity is still overwhelmingly the majority religion in Europe and likely to stay that way. He wonders whether the Islam of those who make their homes in Europe might also become more secular and tolerant and that the Islam that we fear, that of the fundamentalists, might not be as prevalent as we fear.

The second half of the book looks more closely at Islam, discussing terrorism and the French riots, showing how some people are radicalised and giving a history of many of the terrorism events of the last twenty years. He also describes some of the changes taking place in European Islam, particularly with regard to women's rights. The assumption that Islam is a monolithic faith in which there is no variation is patently false and it was encouraging to read of many of the Muslim men and women who are working as a force for good, at least as we would see it. However the overall tone of this part of the book was less positive and left the reader with the sense that Islam is very different from the liberality of most Europeans and not that willing to accommodate in most cases.

Jenkins is always a worthwhile writer to read, with an ability to see the big picture as well as to focus on the details and he is at home in European history and culture. His writing style is excellent, always interesting, well-reasoned and clearly researched, although I was irritated by his insistence in calling the London Underground the London Subway. This book is an important study for anyone living in Europe who wonders about the future of Christianity and how we are to get along with our Muslim neighbours and who perhaps wants to learn a little more about the Islam that is becoming established in Europe.
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