One of my favorite historians of religion, who has recently acted more as a contemporary observer of religion than an historian, is Philip Jenkins of Pennsylvania State University. His newest book, God’s Continent, takes on the grimmer views of where Europe is headed. The focus is religion, but of course politics, economics, and foreign policy are all tied up in the issue as well. I happen to have a lot of sympathy for the darker view, represented not least ably by our own Sam Gregg (e.g., here and here). My pessimism has been tempered somewhat lately—among the reasons being comments by knowledgeable friends who see something significant in the election of Nicholas Sarkozy in France, and now by Jenkins’ book. But I remain skeptical of the optimistic view; Richard John Neuhaus’s review of Jenkins’ book in First Things gets it about right, I think.

  • Dale Milne

    From John Neuhaus’ review:
    “In general, he says it is a mistake to treat Muslims as Muslims when, in fact, they are poor and marginalized immigrants who, in most cases, are only incidentally Muslims. He takes heart from “moderate” Muslim scholars who are subjecting the Qur’an to the same critical scholarship employed by Christians in dealing with their sacred texts. He cites approvingly Bassam Tibi, who urges Muslims to accept the terms of the Leitkultur (the guiding culture) of their new home. Bassam writes: “Religion may, of course, be practiced privately, but in public only citizenship counts. Such a concept would unite Muslims with non-Muslims.” ”

    That is exactly what has been happening in the United States for decades. The U.S. will prove to be the place where Sunni and Shi’a, and even Ahmadi and Ismaili live together in the greatest peace. It is in America that the most cooperation will occur between and among these groups, and the most intermarriage will occur between them and also with Christians and Jews — and not just male Muslim a even female Muslims marrying across religious barriers.

    America may not be the most religious nation in the world; but in its effects, and despite occasional contrary actions, it is fulfilling the role of religion in defending the oppressed, feeding the hungry, arbitrating peace, uniting people, nations, religions, and even cultures.