Recovering the porous individual
in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
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The conditions of individual secularisation posed two sets of moral problems for believers in France and England at that time. The first concerns the mapping out of human behaviour if belief in God has become deistic or has collapsed into atheism. The second concerns the alternative moral criteria to counter the anthropocentrism transmitted by individual secularisation. These two sets of problems provide vital perspectives from which to read French and English Catholic literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many French and English Catholic writers depict the individual's relationship to God not as amorphous or anthropocentric but as circumscribed by grace (God's help) and virtue in a theocentric collaboration, which leads to a form of communal life between God and the human person. This chapter shows that religious porosity must itself be buffered in some way against the influence of secular society.

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