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France 1848–1945: Volume Two: Intellect, Taste and Anxiety$
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Theodore Zeldin

Print publication date: 1977

Print ISBN-13: 9780198221258

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198221258.001.0001

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Religion and Anticlericalism

Religion and Anticlericalism

(p.983) 20. Religion and Anticlericalism
France 1848–1945: Volume Two: Intellect, Taste and Anxiety

Theodore Zeldin

Oxford University Press

The anxieties from which people suffered during the period cannot be attributed to the decline of religious belief. First because it is by no means certain that religious belief did decline; secondly because religion now came to offer new consolations; and thirdly because the Church was itself torn by anxieties of its own. What the ecclesiastical history of this century shows above all is a crisis of communication: churchmen and free-thinkers were so carried away by the bitterness of their disagreements that they became incapable of understanding each other, and hopelessly confused as to what their quarrels were about. The country split into two, but that split concealed a whole plurality of beliefs and temperaments which it cut across in a most misleading way. The dispute about religion was a genuine dispute of fundamental importance but, at the same time as it created new attitudes to life, it also became a major obstacle to self-knowledge and to the perception of the complexities of human motivation.

Keywords:   religious belief, communication, self-knowledge, human motivation, ecclesiastical history

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