Religious Studies | Christianity, 1500-2000
R331 | 25625 | Furey

The above course carries COLL A & H distribution

In 1500 Western Europe was known as Christendom, whereas today it is
a society where less than 20% of the population regularly attends
church. Today Christianity flourishes in Africa, Asia, and Latin
America--places where there were few Christians five hundred years
ago. People often cite these facts as evidence that the two most
important developments in modern Christian history are
secularization and globalization. But this claim is as complicated
as it is commonplace. There is no consensus about whether the
Protestant Reformation revitalized Christianity or sapped it of
sacred energy; about whether Enlightenment thought ushered in a new
worldview or expressed the convictions of a few elite intellectuals;
about how to characterize the interplay of capitalism and religion;
or whether the energy that once fueled Christianity in the West has
now been siphoned off to the south and east. This course engages
these debates by studying writersóreligious leaders, adherents,
critics, and novelistsówho offer subtle and distinctive commentary
on each of these developments. We begin by reading Protestantism and
Progress, a famous essay by Ernst Troeltsch, and end with Gilead, a
recent novel about race and religion in modern America. As we use
these and other writings to survey Christian history from 1500 to
the present, we shall try to understand what phenomena lead people
to describe our age as "secular," what that description assumes
about being "religious," and what it means to understand these
developments from a global perspective. In addition to two midterms
and a final, the course grade will be based on several short
response papers and a group project.