Oct 12, 2011

Differences of degree

Dr. E. Brooks Holifield, speaking at the University of Heidelberg’s Alte Aula, said the marketplace thesis is problematic because it posits as explanations historical conditions which, when they happened elsewhere, didn’t result in the same sort of religiosity. For example, some have said it’s the democratization of religion in America that made the difference, but Wales, Scotland and England also had such democratizations, with “their share of uneducated populist preachers who drew enthusiastic adherents.”

Holifield said the historical conditions that most likely led to American religiousity are only different from other, similar events in the history of Europe in degree. It’s not that they happened in the US and nowhere else, but that they happened differently or to a greater or lesser degree. Picking this up as his theme and thesis, Holifield said:

“Differences of degree make a great deal of difference.”

Continue @ American Studies Heidelberg.