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By The Hedgehog Review, Spring & Summer 2006 Volume Eight Numbers One & Two

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Hence the unrest in France in the autumn of 2005: a population excluded both from the economy itself, and from its concomitant benefits, expressed its frustration on the streets. What, though, are the implications for the religious life of Europe? The short answer is that they vary from place to place depending on both host society and new arrivals. Britain and France offer an interesting comparison. In Britain immigration has been much more varied than in France, both in terms of provenance and in terms of faith communities.

They admit that at present holistic spirituality has a rather narrow socio-demographic appeal, and that the relevant section of the population (educated, middle-aged white women in people-orientated professions) may be approaching saturation point. Far from growing, it is not even clear that the holistic milieu can reproduce itself. 12 In a society where parents have only two children on average, 100 percent of them must be socialized into a practice for it to survive in the long term. 13 On the face of it the New Age has an even higher mountain to climb, not least because women with spiritual interests are more likely than average to be childless.

The fact that the cartoons were first published in Denmark was not simply a coincidence; nor was the insistence on the part of the media in some countries rather than others (most notably France) that the cartoons should be repeatedly re-published in order to affirm the freedom of speech. Such attitudes have historical roots. France, for example, is the European society where the Enlightenment has been most obviously configured as a freedom from belief, an attitude which finds expression in the democratic, though not always very tolerant, institutions already described.

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AFTER SECULARIZATION by The Hedgehog Review, Spring & Summer 2006 Volume Eight Numbers One & Two


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