Our Journey Starts in Paris: A Post Christian Question

Our Journey Starts in Paris: A Post Christian Question February 22, 2022

Today, I am writing to you from Paris for my inaugural post.

Is it a cliché to write in Paris, from Paris?

I mean, what connection does the modern and postmodern predicament of Christianity have in common with Paris?

Christianity is sold on its supposed fundamental promise of transcendence, but Paris is the winner when it comes to the ability to transcend.

Paris thrives on its transcendence, and Christianity’s claim to transcendence has killed it.

We want escapism from our cities, but realism from our religions.

So, perhaps we go to Paris to escape, but when it comes to our gods (and our ghosts), we want a sense of imminence that matters.

All one must do is look at a quick google search of studies that have been done over the last several years to see that Christianity is growing less and less interesting and integral, to say the least. You can look at the seminal Pew Research Study from 2014[1] where we find terms that already seem passé, like the ‘nones’ and the ‘dones’, showing us the depth and speed of the decline of interest and identification with Christianity in the U.S. This is yesterday’s news, but still worth noting. As we move onto more recent studies like Barna and Impact 360’s Gen Z,[2] we find that less than 4% of the demographic that make up Gen Z (69 million children and youth) admit to having a biblical worldview (how Barna defines this I can only imagine). Moving on to Generation Alpha, which will number at nearly 2 billion by 2025, are being called by some the first post Christian generation.[3]

So, for those who are sticking around, whether it be on the periphery, or as a progressive, or as someone who has deconstructed (as the term is being used currently), or otherwise, the question is…why are we? Is it perhaps because we have faith in our wager? Is it because we hope and believe that the bets we made regarding meaning-making, transformation, and imagination will possibly make good on themselves, even though they have been transfigured and refigured throughout our years of faith transition(s)? Is it because we have heard whispers of the promise of imminence? Is it because ways out of this world are no longer what we are after, or even want, but rather a way into it?  

Can other philosophical and religious paradigms accomplish this? Sure. But you and I are here because we are invested in our stories and our lives that, for better or for worse, have relied heavily on the Judeo-Christian narrative and understanding of god.

So, what do we do with this god? The one we were sold as transcendent, but now so desperately want to be actually imminent. Because, perhaps, we want our own lives to be imminent; we want them to matter and to matter now.

This is my inaugural blog post here on Patheos. We are at the beginning of a big journey together. Throughout my posts, you will find a writer and a thinker who has lived to tell. She lived through Roman Catholicism as a young girl, a Charismatic Evangelical as a teenager and young adult, a Progressive Christian as an adult seminarian, and now finds her life and work in the post Christian sphere, philosophies of post theism, as well as Radical Theology.

Yes. It’s all going to come out

But for now-within this first encounter-via digitality, from a city so transcendent, vis á vis a religion that must be imminent, I want to say this…

Maybe it isn’t so much the immovable, unwavering, universal appeal or nature of Paris, but perhaps it is that Paris makes possible the Impossible.  

It brings to the fore immediate realities that we all only hope are true. We hope they are true because we have heard the whispers and experienced the hauntings. Paris makes visible all that is viable if we could and would push far enough.  

This is the post Christian question.

What do I mean by all of this? Well, stay tuned because while I write to you from Paris, and am an American living in the U.K., we’re going to hell and back, and I can’t wait.

[1] “America’s Changing Religious Landscape” Pew Research Center, May 12, 2015, https://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/.

[2] Barna Group and Impact 360 Institute, Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation. (Venture: Barna Group, 2018).

[3] James Emery White, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post Christian World. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books) 2017.


About Maria Francesca French
Co-Creator of H&Co, the tenure of her career has been in theological education, as both professor and administrator. Maria has also worked in innovative church contexts, church planting and denominational leadership. She is focused on the intersections of faith and culture, offering new forums for faith engagement and theological imaginations that are viable and sustainable for an uncertain future. Find her podcasting on Sacred Anarchies: A Post Church Podcast and curating content and coaching on her Patreon. Check out her website for more. You can read more about the author here.

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