A Feverish Decade. The Religious Heritage of the 1960s in the Netherlands

(Ger Groot) The Low Countries – 2017, № 25, pp. 82-89

For a long time the Netherlands was one of the most Catholic countries in the world. That may well come as a surprise. If there is one religious denomination with which the Netherlands is invariably associated it is Calvinism. And in the eyes of Europeans from further south, even Dutch Catholics think and behave like Calvinists in disguise. The religious heritage of the 1960s in the Netherlands is in several respects ambiguous. It was not the increasing secularisation that characterised it, but a modernist resistance to the disintegration that was already making itself felt beneath the surface in the by then outdated traditional forms of devotion.The resulting feverish modernisation and reflection led in subsequent decades to a backlash that appears,however, in its turn, to be equally temporary. The traditional churches will not recover quickly and definitely not in their pre-1960s forms. But religion is by no means finished – certainly not in a country where it has traditionally been deeply cherished by both Protestants and Catholics.

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