Passions of Pope VictorIssue: Jan-Feb 2010
John L. Allen, Jr., The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday Religion, 2009), 480 pp., $28.00.
[amazon 0385520387 full] FORECASTING THE future of religion has a long and tainted history. Too often, futurology merely consists of watching the current trajectory of lines on a graph, and extending them until they reach some sensational conclusion. This was the process that led Mark Twain, a century ago, to predict that the world's largest religions by 2000 AD would be Roman Catholicism-and Christian Science. But no less troublesome is the enduring belief that religion is simply going to fade away and thus we need give it no account. That comforting construct generally endures until some vast explosion, literal or figurative, reminds us not just that many millions of people around the world take religion very seriously, but that they also do not draw sharp lines between the spiritual and political dimensions of life. As Western governments discovered in September 2001, we do indeed have a choice. We either pay serious attention to the patterns shaping religious belief and practice worldwide, or else we find ourselves very suddenly scrambling to play catch-up on that which we have failed to notice.