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  • This chapter is unavailable for purchase
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: June 2014

Chapter 10 - Christianity: Churches and Sects in a Post-Christian World

  • Adam Possamai, University of Western Sydney
  • Publisher: Acumen Publishing
  • pp 139-152



At the same time that the third episode of Lord of the Rings was winning a series of Oscars as if they were given on an assembly line, a low production movie from Quebec, The Barbarian Invasion, received the prize for the best foreign movie. In this Canadian movie a young woman working for Sothebys visiting Quebec is contacted by a Catholic priest. The priest mentions that his church has a collection of old works of art that he is hoping to sell to international art collectors. The young woman is interested by this possible deal and pays a visit to a sort of Catholic store room. In this place reminiscent of an old and forgotten attic, an old priest shows her around the various art pieces covered with dust and cobwebs. Not only does this setting portray Catholicism in the western world as a decaying institution, but when the young woman tells the priest that these antiques are worth nothing, the metaphor about the decline of the relevance of the Church is reenforced.

As we have seen in Chapter 4, fewer people attend churches, and the political and cultural influences of mainstream Christian religions are no longer what they were in yesteryears. This movie is not only retelling what sociologists of religion have been analysing for years in terms of membership dropouts, it also emphasises that the Catholic Church has less power in a consumer world as its works of art are not of much value.