In analyzing the concept of religion in Europe, one aspect that seems prevalent is the dominant Christian memory. The question that often arises queries the extent to which religion is still intact in modern Europe. Gracie Davie poses the dilemma that arises which she postulates to be individual definition of the term intact (Davie 176). It therefore follows that there could only be two faces to the resulting scenario. One way is to look at the intactness of religion as the existence of the memory while at the same time analyzing it in a manner that acknowledges a majority of Europeans to share the ideologies engendered in Christianity and go on to embrace this ideologies and practices. Another facet that arises while dealing with religion in modern Europe is the prevalent diversification that it exhibits. In this regard, Europe’s model of European religion has been portrayed more or less as the de facto religion of Europe in the modern era. The balance between personal integration of religion and the diversity of the concept of religion in Europe is the major factor that defines approaches of interpreting it under various levels including society and its various facets that range from politics, gender, secularism, government, economy as well as morality. Under one perspective, it is rendered totally impractical to sustain the historical dimension of religion without appearing biased and superficial to the taste and preference of other religions as well as an array of secular traditions.
A concept that is core in Modern European religion is the vicarious memory. In modern Europe only a few members of society take on the mantle of preserving religious memory signifying that religion is no longer taking the central place in peoples lives (Davie 177). There is no doubt about the fact that Christianity still exists in modern Europe but alongside this existence is a diminished number of individuals who can preserve it by articulating its fundamental tenets. Earlier, religious preservation was the province of men, in modern Europe there has been a shift with women exceeding men, with older generations taking more responsibility than the younger generation. In Western Europe, the literate are more responsible for religious preservation as opposed to peasantry in the pre-modern times. The liturgy has also seen women come to the front to preserve the ancient practice. In order to preserve the mannerisms engendered in the liturgy, religion has redefined the ancient practice which has seen it make amendments as to who is permitted to conduct liturgies. This has seen ordination of female priests. In a significant number of protestant churches that are spread across Europe, women have been widely accepted and they are able to consecrate the religious notions. They also constitute a significant portion of the ordained ministry (Davie178). In the Orthodox as well as the Catholic traditions, this is not the case as they are barred and the ancient tradition is still maintained.
Implicit in the concept of religious memory’s vicariousness that is prevalent in European religion is the loose balancing between religious majorities as well as minorities. As such this notion in modern European religion gave birth to secularization which ultimately was used as a platform for the establishment of the lower orders. As such doing something on another individual’s behalf implied that both parties that are affected by this action are aware of the occurrence even if they are minorities. This implied that the dominant religion, Christianity had to give way to secular aspects as well as other religions into Europe. As a result of the loose regulation that characterised this lower orders they gained much membership which was further aggravated by the tight regulation that prevailed in traditional Christianity especially catholism. Consequently European religion has lost its members to lower orders which have swelled as a result of their deregulation. This has led to the rise of the lower orders.
Three things arise with regard to the viability of religion in Europe at the national level in the modern era. Illustration from central as well as Eastern Europe points out the inherent need to reconstitute the constitutional presence as well as public acceptability. These institutions are considered fundamental and absolutely critical for the survival of European religion. The form that religion has taken in order to accommodate this change has widely been disputed.
There were also attempts to further privileges of the religion so as to reach an equal level with the new arrivals. In Europe all religions admire and compete to get these privileges.
There is also a developing trend among the press that is primarily described as the secular group developed an attitude towards the guardians of the faith. To a vast majority of population, this is not to be perceived as being indifferent to religion but it should be primarily regarded as vigilance.
There also exist relations between religion and politics, on one side of the dimension as well as religion and the state, on the opposite side of the coin. Politicians running for national as well as regional seats, are not foreign to invoking sentiments with religious overtones so as to lure the compact majority into supporting their bid for office a concept that is known as “cultural power” (Demerath and Rhys Williams 120). In Europe the concept of dissociating the state from religion is prevalent. Such is the case in France where the country has seen the burning of wearing of the hijab in public places. In Italy, several quarters have aired their concern about removing religious symbols from learning institutions as they are perceived as indoctrination and attempts to further religious dogma. There also is a prevalent trend which primarily sees politicians embrace religion while in pursuit of power but its abandonment as it is seen as a burden that can deteriorate public ratings.
The concept of individuality in religion can be attributed to the emergence of enlightment. As such the individual who were more enlightened could seek individual perspectives and pursue this perspective. As such there arose individual definitions of eternity in religion, politicians sought idealization and society pursued goals that were primarily endeared towards personal prosperity.
The modern European state also sought to undertake various measures with regard to economic restructuring to yield changes that ideally were viable enough to sustain economic growth. The desirable changes were in conflict with religion as religion in contrast to capitalism promoted the idea of ‘my brother’s keeper’. Capitalism on the other hand promoted personal pursuit of wealth with the intention of creating the said wealth regardless of the predicament of the individual. Europe compromised religion and sought to formulate and systemize models that embraced better forms of organization that could sustain this need. The state embraced diversified economies with an array of social as well as political and cultural organizations creating an effective social structure. Parties with a Christian background have also ceded more ground undergoing immense mutation to embrace a varied array of pressure groups as well as social movements (Davie 179).
In understanding the past, primary sources come in as significantly important as they render the information out with utmost accuracy. There description can be taken to be the actual happening as their exposure is in the nuclear of the event. There is a risk though as there is a tendency to expect candour and disclosure bereft of other elements that meditate against telling of truth. As Freud postulated, it is simply not feasible to take this accounts as the real truth as there will always be subconscious desires, private emotions as well as dip seated motives that meditate against the truth.
Works Cited Page
Davie Grace. Religion in Modern Europe. A Memory Mutates. Oxford: Oxford
University Press (2000)
Demerath and Rhys H. Williams. A Bridging of Faiths: Religion and Politics in a New
England City. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. (1992)