UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

God Is Back

Two authors look at the emerging religious culture

By Kenneth Bagnell

God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World
By John Micklethwait and
Adrian Wooldridge
(The Penguin Press) $35



German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche first used the expression “God is dead” in 1882. Now a new book announces God Is Back. But this is not theology so much as it is sociology, in particular the growth of Christian and Muslim conservatism.

The authors report this growth without raising much of a sweat. Two illustrations: Focus on the Family, the radio program of American evangelical James Dobson, has 12 million listeners in the United States and 200 million around the world. Further, “Islam is on the march in Europe: many Islamic communities are trying to build their own parallel universe of institutions, much as conservative Christians did in the United States.” Indeed, it seems the authors view this as good news. Many Europeans and liberal Christians will disagree.

That aside, we must recognize that the co-authors are credible journalists: John Micklethwait is editor-in-chief of The Economist, and Adrian Wooldridge is the magazine’s Washington correspondent. Moreover, allowing for their circumscribed vision, we can read the book for both its quality reporting and its brisk analysis.

Only near the end of the book do the authors weigh in on so-called liberal churches, writing, “People who rallied behind the banner of Christian socialism are now rallying behind three more modest banners: environmentalism, fair trade and debt forgiveness.”

God Is Back is an intelligent and comprehensive look at emerging religious culture, but I don’t sense that the Prince of Peace is near its heart.


Rev. Kenneth Bagnell is an honorary associate minister at Toronto's Eglinton St. George's United.



Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image
Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: My Year of Living Spiritually

by Observer Staff

Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.

Promotional Image

Faith

January 2018

In the beginning

by Alanna Mitchell

The award-winning science writer travels to northern Australia to explore the world's oldest creation story

Society

January 2018

The good death

by Pieta Woolley

Anglican professor Donald Grayston made dying in peace a lifetime project. His example is inspiring others to plan a meaningful exit.

Faith

January 2018

Me, Dad and the Almighty

by Anne Bayin

A preacher’s kid pretended to be a devout daughter, but secretly she felt lost in a wilderness of doubt.

Society

January 2018

The good death

by Pieta Woolley

Anglican professor Donald Grayston made dying in peace a lifetime project. His example is inspiring others to plan a meaningful exit.

Faith

January 2018

In the beginning

by Alanna Mitchell

The award-winning science writer travels to northern Australia to explore the world's oldest creation story

Faith

January 2018

Me, Dad and the Almighty

by Anne Bayin

A preacher’s kid pretended to be a devout daughter, but secretly she felt lost in a wilderness of doubt.

Promotional Image