Reading Allen's "The Future Church" Print
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 13 November 2009 08:44
I have and am reading the new John Allen book, The Future Church, which came out on Tuesday.

There has been some harruphing going on around the Catholic blogosphere about this book. From the left and the right. Some by those who have actually read it. And some by those who haven't. Basically, they didn't see their favorite thing(s) listed as one of the Ten "Trends" that are "revolutionizing" the Catholic Church.

Allen has a whole chapter on how he ultimately picked the trends to focus upon. He received input from all over the world and some of it is very amusing. There was the "persistent reader" who insisted that Allen include the work of Rene Girard on "mimetic desire." Another who said that the heart of the matter was "String Theory".

As Allen sums it up:

"One rule of thumb I developed in light of such proposal: If I have to google a proposed trend to figure out what it means, it's probably not setting the Catholic world on fire."

Allen's criteria for choosing a trend: (I've tried to simplify his categories for a blog post. When I quote Allen directly, I do so in quotes.)

1) It had to be "global as opposed to something associated primarily with a given country or region."

2) It has to have "a significant impact on the Catholic grassroots." (beyond theologians, activists, clergy and - gasp! - journalists and bloggers)

3) The leadership of the Church has to be engaged with the trend and it must have the potential to influence Catholics institutional structures.

4) The trend has to have "explanatory power." It must help us understand a wide variety of events, issues and developments.

5) The trend needs to have "predictive power". It must help us understand where the Church will likely go in the 21st century.

6) "It cannot be ideologically driven" and must be a current that Catholics across the spectrum can acknowledge is real. (Regardless of whether individuals think the trend in question is a helpful or damaging trend.)

I know a fair amount about (and have blogged) about six of the trends Allen writes about: a world church, evangelical Catholicism, the new demography, lay roles, multipolarism, and pentecostalism. I have a pre-Catholic personal and academic background in the 7th trend: Islam.

And am fairly clueless about three of the trends: globalization, ecology, and the biotech revolution. It should be interesting.

Since the breadth of the topics covered is so enormous, I'll probably be blogging on one topic at a time.

For sure,my next book is going to be on The Influence of Mimetic Desire and The Da Vinci Code on String Theory. It'll be a page turner. Stay tuned!