Religion and Reflexivity: The Paralysis of a Theological Imagination



In an assessment of religion and spirituality in England, Barley (2006: xi) stated: ‘Christian Britain is a thing of the past and yet it remains the backdrop to everyday life.’ The disconnection between folk memory of religion and practice has never been more explicitly cast. Thus, looking at the state of religion in English society, one is faced with a paradox. The Census for England and Wales, 2001, showed that 72 per cent of the population identified themselves as Christian, that is 37.3 million. Much ink has been spilt working out this perplexing figure that surprised almost all commentators. What was the Christianity to which so many subscribed and yet so few practised, as expressed in weekly or even monthly attendance? The Census figures and the relatively small number who practise in terms of weekly church attendance seemed to justify Davie’s notion (2000: 177–80) of religion as a form of vicarious memory, where the few worship on behalf of the self-disaffiliated many.1


Rational Choice Theory Symbolic Capital Sociological Imagination Trump Card Practical Theology 
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Copyright information

© Kieran Flanagan 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BristolUK

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