Fertility, Faith and Islam

I have been posting about declining fertility rates around the world, specifically about their impact on religiosity and secularization. Beyond that, those rates also serve as excellent indicators of trends in gender roles and relationships, and a wide range of social and cultural themes. Tell me a country’s total fertility rate (TFR) and I will [Read More…]

The Terror Attack in France

I don’t normally post two items in a day, but this is a special circumstance. I am of course utterly horrified at last night’s appalling terror attack in France. It made such a personal impact because the specific method is one I have discussed through the years. Just last week, I published an article for [Read More…]

Fertility and Faith, Continued

I have made the case that fertility and faith are intimately linked. Very generally, falling fertility rates correlate with declining support for organized religion, and growing secularization. (This is the total fertility rate, TFR). The key marker is the “replacement” rate, when a typical woman bears 2.1 children during the course of her life. When [Read More…]

Fertility and Faith

I have written a good deal about the relationship between demographics and religious loyalties, and this theme has critical implications for the future development of all the world’s faiths. This topic will probably be the theme of my next book, so let me take the opportunity offered by the blog format to lay out some [Read More…]

Two Sides of One Coin? (Buddhist and Christian Decline, Part III)

I have been comparing the decline of two once mighty religious systems, namely Buddhism in India, and Christianity in the Middle East. By the late Middle Ages, both were damaged irreparably, and had shrunk to shadows of their former selves. Indian Buddhism came close to extinction. Both the Christian and Buddhist stories raise the fundamental [Read More…]

God, Gotham, and Jon Butler

I have just read an admirably concise essay that is one of the smartest and most interesting contributions to American religious history that I have read in a long time. In April, Jon Butler gave his Presidential Address to the Organization of American Historians, which has now been published as “God, Gotham, and Modernity,” in [Read More…]

Two Sides of One Coin? (Buddhist and Christian Decline, Part II)

Last time, I stated a problem. In the early centuries of the Christian era, Buddhism was an immensely successful and thriving faith, which had its main homeland in India. Between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, though, Indian Buddhism was progressively weakened, to the point of virtual destruction. So totally was it swept away that not [Read More…]

Two Sides of One Coin? Mapping Buddhist and Christian Decline

Although it’s a world religion, in a sense it is multiply cut off from its roots. While its key early figures used one language, its scriptures are translations of those early words. And although it was once very strong in the land of its birth, it subsequently became much more numerous in lands far afield, [Read More…]

This Orient Isle

Back in February, I posted about the tight alliance that bound (Protestant) Elizabethan England with Muslim Morocco, and what that suggested about the limitations of religious or confessional politics in that era. A very good book on that theme is Jerry Brotton, This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World (London: Allen Lane, 2016), and [Read More…]

More on Publishing and Presses

I recently posted about the prestige of different publishers, and the vast difference that makes in the academic world. If you are an academic and you publish with a famous university press, that is wonderful for your career. If you go with a vanity press, that can sink your career. That division of presses also [Read More…]


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