The Black Dog and the Wicker Man

Last time I described how rogue academics produced a mythology of continuing paganism and human sacrifice in supposedly Christian England, right up to modern times. The main rogue in question was an Egyptologist gone bad by the name of Margaret Murray. Supposedly, there was a continuing tradition of secret underground paganism linked to ancient cults [Read More…]

Dark Majesty and Folk Horror

This coming Monday, August 1, marks the medieval feast of Lammas, Loaf-mass, the year’s first harvest festival, and that coincides with one of the great feasts of the ancient Irish calendar, Lughnasa. This also brings me to a curious anniversary, which tells us a little bit about medieval history, and a great deal about the [Read More…]

Fertility, Faith and Politics

I have been writing on the global demographic revolution marked by collapsing fertility rates and shrinking family sizes. In particular, I have focused on the religious implications of these changes. For a variety of reasons, lower fertility shows a close correlation to secularization, and the rapid decline of organized religion. Some social issues in particular [Read More…]

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…]