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Religion in Germany since 1945
Translated from the German by Alex Skinner
356 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-278-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2016)
eISBN 978-1-78533-279-1 eBook
“In his lively and analytically rich analysis of postwar German society, Thomas Großbölting traces the postwar decline of organized Christianity and the parallel growth of pluralism in Germany’s religious topography… If the outline of this narrative sounds familiar to students of modern German religion, Großbölting brings it to life in a fresh, nuanced way, interweaving theological, sociological, and political dynamics to underscore the consequence of this societal revolution.” • American Historical Review
“[The author’s] all-encompassing approach is impressive and thoroughly convincing…The study offers an outstanding, compelling account of how the German religious landscape has changed since 1945.” • German Politics and Society
“The first comprehensive history of religion in Germany after 1945.” • Süddeutsche Zeitung
“Thomas Großbölting’s differentiated, tightly argued, and wide-ranging study succeeds in its task to write the first history of religion in Germany and to meet the challenge of integrating very different and more narrowly focused research. It sets the standard for every other work in this field.” • RPI
As the birthplace of the Reformation, Germany has been the site of some of the most significant moments in the history of European Christianity. Today, however, its religious landscape is one that would scarcely be recognizable to earlier generations. This groundbreaking survey of German postwar religious life depicts a profoundly changed society: congregations shrink, private piety is on the wane, and public life has almost entirely shed its Christian character, yet there remains a booming market for syncretistic and individualistic forms of “popular religion.” Losing Heaven insightfully recounts these dramatic shifts and explains their consequences for German religious communities and the polity as a whole.
Thomas Großbölting is a Professor of History at the University of Münster. His scholarship focuses on social, industrial, and religious history, as reflected in his doctoral thesis on the East German middle class and subsequent work on industrial exhibitions and trade fairs. He is currently researching religious change in postwar Germany and remembrance of the GDR after German unification.
Subject: Postwar History Religion
Introduction: Losing Heaven
PART I: A CHRISTIAN GERMANY? RELIGIOUS SELF-POSITIONING AND ILLUSIONS AFTER 1945
Chapter 1. Faith in People’s Lives – Lives Lived in Faith? The Religious Field between Re-Christianization and Erosion
Chapter 2. Organize, Standardize, Romanticize. The Churches in Politics and Society
Chapter 3. Proclamation of Faith and Pastoral Work from 1945 to the Early 1960s
PART II: THE NEW DAWN AND THE PLUNGE INTO POSTMODERNITY. THE RELIGIOUS FIELD IN THE 1960S AND 1970S
Chapter 4. The Christian Religious Communities in the 1960s and 1970s
Chapter 5. Politicization and Pluralization. Religion, Politics and Society in the 1960s and 1970s
Chapter 6. From ‘Hellfire’ to ‘All-Embracing Love’. Transformation in the Social Forms of Religion and in the Meaning of Transcendence
PART III: CHURCH BECOMES RELIGION. RUPTURES AND CHANGES IN THE RELIGIOUS SPHERE TO THE PRESENT DAY
Chapter 7. Faith within Life. The Diffusion and Differentiation of the Religious Field
Chapter 8. On the Way to a Multireligious Society? Pluralism as Challenge
Chapter 9. Towards a De-Christianized Society?
Conclusion: God in Germany – Looking Back and Looking Forward
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