God Has Not Changed Paperback – 10 Jan 2004
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These teasing essays offer a mordant commentary on the folly of modern religion during the last ten years. At one time I would have pretended to have disapproved of them but do so no longer because what she conveys is the transience of novelty. It doesn t last " Mass of Ages
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Ms. Ellis was a convert to Catholicism. She attempted to become a nun and was rejected for health reasons. Obviously she holds her early church memories dear. She claims the Christian church is withering, thanks to the changes made since she was a girl. She holds modern "liberal" "feminist" trends responsible for the decline she describes, and pines for the patriarchal and hierarchical church of old.
But her view doesn't hold up when one looks outside of Europe. Here in the U.S, source of so many "liberal" and "feminist" ideas, Christianity is healty and robust, hardly the dying institution Ms. Ellis descibes. Could the fault lie elsewhere? England, like most countries in Europe, has an established church, a chosen denomination, while the U.S. doesn't. Perhaps this plays a larger part in religous vitality (or the lack) than the the "liberalism" Ms. Ellis so abhors.
I was sorry to find that reading this book was like listening to a grandparent lamenting modern times, remembering how much better everything used to be. Ms. Ellis longs for the Roman Catholic church of her youth in the 1940s and 1950s, but she doesn't crave the church of the Middle Ages or the Counter-Reformation. So much for God not changing!
Ms. Ellis titles her book with a paraphrase of St. Teresa of Avila. The entire passage is apt: "All things pass; God does not change." There's Ms. Ellis's problem in a nutshell. God does not change, but people do. All things pass, including eras. Churches, which are human institutions, have always changed.