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Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

Hi there! I'm Kimberly Yow, a passionate journalist with a deep love for alternative rock. Combining my two passions, I've found my dream job. Join me on this exciting journey as I explore the world of journalism and rock music.

Can a Secularizing Nation Have a Christian Soul?

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One of England’s finest writers surveys the past and present of English faith.

In the Western world today, Peter Ackroyd is one of the finest writers of biography, history, and fiction. His most recent project turns attention to the field of religion, setting out to describe what he calls the “spirit and nature of English Christianity” as it has developed over the past 1,400 years.

The English Soul: Faith of a Nation offers an episodic and biographical account of books, individuals, and communities that have done most to shape this tradition. Consistent with Ackroyd’s gifts, the book crafts superb turns of phrase while approaching its subject with curiosity, generosity, and breadth.

But this book also makes some unexpected moves. The English soul, Ackroyd insists, requires a Christian explanation—for while Jews, Muslims, and adherents of other religions have “contributed” to the country’s religious tradition, their faith and practice have not “characterized” it. “Christianity,” he asserts, “has been the anchoring and defining doctrine of England.”

These are bold words, and contestable ones, not least when measured against England’s secularization over the past 50 years. In most parts of the country, Christian affiliation, even at its most nominal, is dropping fast.

The Church of England might still be established, and the new king might still be its supreme governor, but his episcopal appointments are approved by a Hindu prime minister in a capital city boasting a Muslim mayor and in a culture that treats these religious differences with little more than indifference.

These social changes reframe Ackroyd’s title into a question: Does England still have a Christian soul?

At minimum, Ackroyd’s …

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