Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I Didn’t Read the Book, but I Did Stay at a Holland-ay Inn Express Last Night

Written by: on February 22, 2023

Tom Holland’s book Dominion is a wonderful book for anyone interested in the ubiquitous nature of Christianity in global development, particularly Western thought. Holland’s book is about 500 pages long and broken into three sections, which outline this development from Christ to today. Fortunately for me, Dr. Clark only assigned us to listen to Tom Holland’s Theos Lecture from 2022. The lecture was quite difficult to track without a deeper understanding of the book, but once I had a good grasp of his context, I was able to hear his lecture more clearly and within the proper frame.

Holland’s premise can be summed up in this phrase: The development of Christianity is the single most transformative development in Western history. [1] So many Western, and thus global assumptions are based in the Christian revolution to the extent we take them for granted. I was fascinated by Holland’s take on the impact of Christianity on the development of western liberal democracy. The assumption that all people are valuable, Holland argues, is unique within the majority of human history. It was the Christ event, and subsequent development of the church, which brought about the value of the week being equal to that of the strong. Likewise, Holland would assert, no other religion has done more for historically marginalized people (the poor, women, enslaved people etc.) than Christianity

One review by reads, “Holland argues that all ‘western’ moral and social norms are the product of the Christian revolution. He is haunted by St Paul’s claim that God chose the weak and foolish things of the world to shame the strong […]” [2]

I’m fascinated by Holland’s premise that Christianity is at the foundation of so many cultural assumptions of care for the poor, for the outcast, for the weak, the vulnerable. In at least one podcast I listened to, Holland expands on how Christianity has impacted social services like geriatric care, single parents, public education, etc. What is seen as standard assumptions in many cases, has its origins in Christian values.

Holland’s work provides a historical framework, centered on Christianity, that naturally aligns with shadow work. Shadow work is by nature focused on the lost, hidden, neglected, rejected parts of human beings. It values that which confounds the established cultural narratives and stratifications, which often exclude marginalized people from grace of God, be it education, healthcare, living wage etc.. Shadow work and Christianity both value the “least among us” because this is where God resides.

However, this is not how Christianity is viewed by many today. The institution, its theology, and its political entanglements, embody a Christianity that fetishizes its own survival which borders on a sort of narcissistic grandiosity.

Such narrow vision marginalizes many who don’t fit within its dogmatic scope. The lack of understanding and dehumanization put forth by many powerful Christians again queer and transgender folk is case in point. Fascist lawmakers across the United States, and the West generally, are enacting laws that deny people the dignity of personhood based on sexual orientation–dignity, which Holland would say is essential Christian. Criminalization of poor people is on the rise, not just among radical conservatives, but among mainstream republicans. A heritage and almost genetical ethic of hospitality to strangers is being exchanged for protectionist measures in the name of God.

Our dear friend, Carl Jung, the son of a Swiss Reformed pastor, was deeply, if not primarily impacted by Christianity. Jung described his church experience, and particularly his first communion, an almost stale reenactment. As a direct product of the Enlightenment, Swiss Reformed experimentalism had become centered on right belief and become lifeless.

Jung never lost connection with the Christ myth–he carried a bible in his back pocket throughout his adult life–but his world expanded beyond the persona of this faith to include the expansiveness of the unconscious. Jung’s perspective and the Christian ethic of hospitality and inclusion overlay one another beautifully in the story of Demon Possessed Man in Mark 5. It perfectly displays the value placed on the oppressed, while also providing opportunity for the oppressor to redeem their disowned, scapegoated projections.

In summation, I don’t know if I’d love Tom Holland’s book, but I’m at least made curious by his foundational premise. I have many thoughts on how the framework of Jungian psychology and the practice of shadow work may provide pathways forward. Yeah, maybe ask me questions about that in the responses!




[1] Tom Holland, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World (Basic Books, 2019). 23.

[2] Terry Eagleton, “Dominion by Tom Holland Review – the Legacy of Christianity,” The Guardian, November 21, 2019, sec. Books, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/21/dominion-making-western-mind-tom-holland-review.



About the Author

Michael Simmons

- Tennessee --> Oregon - Father to David and Bina, Partner to Liz - Portland Seminary Admissions Counselor - Spiritual Director - Companioning Center Leadership Team - Deep Water Board Member - Ordained Elder, FMC - Aspiring Jungian Theologian

7 responses to “I Didn’t Read the Book, but I Did Stay at a Holland-ay Inn Express Last Night”

  1. mm Andy Hale says:


    Thank you for your insightful post, as it connects to your research.

    One thing that can be said about Holland’s work is that it traces the history of Christianity and the West, whether the good, bad or the ugly. Instead of focusing on people being “post-church,” would you rather see the church zero in on why it continues to share a bed with corrupt politicians and anti-social reformists?

  2. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Michael, you rival “Denise” (Nicole) for her Friedman references with your connections to Jung – haha. You describe how the church is viewed today in American culture, and I agree with the negative perspective. I believe that reputation is, unfortunately, mostly earned. I once heard someone reflect on the negative aspects of the church’s past actions. He said, “Those dark things are not an expression of Christian faith, but a departure from it.” Would you agree with that or do you think there are deeper reasons for the “sins” of the church’s past and present, for that matter?

  3. mm Jonathan Lee says:

    Hi Michael,

    Ty for your thoughts. I see that our American society worked hard and well to hide the shadow sides of humanity. In your opinion, where did these values come from and what are the negative impacts of covering up shadow sides as a society?

  4. mm Eric Basye says:

    I love the title;)

    You say, ” Likewise, Holland would assert, no other religion has done more for historically marginalized people (the poor, women, enslaved people etc.) than Christianity.”

    Do you agree with this or not? And what about the impact of Christianity today among the marginalized? Also, I would be curious, who do you think of when you hear the word “marginalized?”

  5. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Michael: Aside from Jung himself, which of the previous authors that we have read so far would you like to witness having a conversation with Holland about this topic?

  6. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Michael, one thing I haven’t figured out is if Holland considers Christ’s redemption is for all of creation not just human beings? Where does Jung land on this? What aspects of redemption of all creation impact the subject of human rights?

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