MARY EBERSTADT JUST penned a new volume, How The West Really Lost God. Eberstadt is a conservative scholar working for Stanford’s Hoover Institution. I have read several of her other books. Eberstadt begins by noting that Christianity is on a precipitous decline, and secularism is on the rise in the West.
This book is an attempt to answer the question, which comes first, Christianity or the family? Is Christianity declining because the family is declining or is the family declining because Christianity is declining? Most suppose that Christianity is the horse that pulls the family’s cart. The family collapses because religion collapses, or the family rises with the growth of religious belief.
Eberstadt turns all this upside down. She theorizes that religion follows the family. As the family declines religion declines. As the family rises, religious belief follows. I did not find her argument conclusive. Yes, there is some truth that strong families strengthen religious conviction. The disconnect from extended family is one rational explanation for the secularism of the United States northwest.
But Eberstadt failed to convince me that fundamentally our world view (i.e. or religious convictions) don’t ultimately govern everything about our real lives. This includes the family.
I finished the book wondering if Eberstadt really understands the power of religion when it reigns in the human heart.