Wednesday, August 21, 2013

John L. Allen, Jr. - The Future Church

Another work added to our journalism bibliography this summer is The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church by John L. Allen Jr.

After many years of interviewing those involved with the Church around the world and after describing the meaning and possible consequences of each trend, Allen reaches this conclusion:

An upside-down Church implies contradiction, tension, and in some cases disillusionment.  Yet spiritually-speaking, the turbulence that comes from being turned upside down is part of the Christian experience.  In his classic work Heretics, G.K. Chesterton offered the example of how Christianity audaciously upended the ancient pagan reverence for the human family.  The ancients venerated the time-honored structure of father, mother, and child.  Christianity capsized the sequence, thereby producing the Holy Family of child, mother, father.  As Chesterton epigrammatically observed, "Many things are made holy by being turned upside down."

Fostering holiness in the upside-down Church of the twenty-first century will require special courage - the courage of humility, of patience, of perspective.  Above all, it will require the courage to think beyond the interests of one's own Catholic tribe, conceiving the Catholic future not in zero-sum terms but as a bold synthesis of the best of each of the Church's constituencies.  If Catholicism can generate that kind of courage on a mass scale, it could form an eleventh trend, arguably the most consequential of all (456).


  1. This book was also required reading, if I remember correctly, in Ms. Akiyama's College IV Multicultural Ministry class. I think it will provide good insights for the journalism students.

    By the way, I think 'is" in the first sentence of the second paragraph is supposed to be "in". Sorry, couldn't resist. :)

  2. Thank you for the correction - I have fixed it. Yes, Ms. Akiyama uses this book as well, and more books by John Allen Jr. will be appearing on our blog.