Mary Eberstadt – How the West Really Lost God

Nov 16, 2022 | Listen

In the sixth Ramsay Lecture for 2022 US author and cultural critic Mary Eberstadt expands on the central thesis of her 2013 title, How the West Really Lost God, arguing that the decline in Western churchgoing is more attributable to the collapse of the Western family, especially since the 1960s, than any other commonly touted cause.

In pressing her case, she disputes prevailing arguments about why Christianity is in decline, including what she claims is the dominant theory, ‘that material prosperity drives out God.’ Citing an array of historical and statistical evidence, she shows that poorer and less educated Westerners are less likely to go to church, with greater religious devotion among the wealthy and middle class. She also examines the psychological impact of the two world wars of the 20th century, as well as the impact of industrialization and mass mobility. While conceding that these have had some impact on religious devotion, she argues that the biggest cause of religious decline is the breakdown of the family unit, flowing on from the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

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