In recent years, why have church attendances generally been falling in Ireland, as also in much of Western Europe? How can we understand such changes in society? These questions were the topic addressed by a visiting Dutch scholar, Dr Kees de Groot, Lecturer in Practical Theology at Tilburg University.
On Wednesday 7th February he gave a research seminar entitled “The unacknowledged presence of Christianity in secularized Dutch society.” Developing Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of liquid modernity, Dr de Groot explained that secularization does not mean religion dying out. Instead, established religious systems are changing and breaking down, with their ‘assets’ often being taken over by secular institutions.
On Tuesday 13th February he delivered a lecture, organized jointly by the Irish Theological Quarterly and Maynooth University’s Department of Sociology. His provocative title was “The ‘Liquidation’ of the Church”—also the subject of his new book (Routledge, 2017). According to de Groot, the metaphor of liquidation provides an alternative to approaches that merely perceive the decline of religion. This lecture stimulated discussion among those attending.