Wednesday, July 21

Mass has been cancelled due to lack of interest.

This is a substantive expansion of a comment I made on Terence's post regarding the attempted re-evangelization of the West (read Western Europe and North America) by the RC Church. You can read it here at Open Tabernacle. The gist of the article is the decline of the faithful to blindly obey church authority, along with the inability of the Church to deal with the Novo Ordo Seclorum, has left the churches empty.

The first point I believe is a bit of a red herring, at least as it applies to the U.S.. The american faith experience has been firmly rooted in independent thinking since the founding of our nation, with attempts by Rome to squelch such nonsense during the Vatican I period and it's reprise, the V2 retrenchment, being reacted to with anything from cautious disregard to open revolt. This should come as no surprise as the U.S. was formed from the seeds of religious heterodoxy, nurtured with the fruits of the Enlightenment and raised in the reality of rugged individualism.

In regards to the second point, to lay blame the decline of the Roman Church solely on V2 retrenchment is not entirely correct, because there is a certain veracity to the Church's complaint stemming from the growing secularism and independent thought movements which, to the Church's eyes, grew out of the era in which V2 happened (the 1960's). A great deal of the guilt-laden dictates that folks grew up with in the 1950's and before (both in and out of the RC Church) were found to have no clothes and V2 was a positive affirmation that 'modern life' and the ancient church didn't have to be enemies. In truth, much of V2 SHOULD have happened in the 1890's, an acknowledgment and embrace of the fact that the faithful are no longer ignorant, illiterate and incapable of thought.

It is my belief that the majority of the 'blame' on the decline of the Church is a lack of relevance. The big questions of the day are not adequately addressed by the staid positions of 100 (or 1000) years ago. If they were, they wouldn't be questions today. Why go to confessional when I have a shrink who doesn't make me say rosaries. Why go to church for support when I have Facebook who doesn't require a donation or make me feel guilty. Why follow arcane dictates that predate the automobile when I can read for myself what Jesus does and does not say. Why should I believe in an invisible, intangible Being when science has tangible and reasonable answers which are far more compelling to a rational, educated mind.

Are there valid ripostes to these questions? I certainly believe so. The trouble is that many of the mainline faiths aren't really even acknowledging the questions are being asked, sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "Because God said so". That is a grave disservice to both God and man.

It appears to me that, in general, organized Christian faiths have forgotten the value of religion and of the church organization to the parishioners and to society in general.

The doctrine and philosophy of a religion provides answers and surety (even if those answers are questions in and of themselves) for parishioners when their lives have doubt and insecurity. A church congregation/parish forms a social community which primarily supports it's members as well as, secondarily, the local community at large. To be able to function adequately in these roles, a religion must be able to address the questions of the day and the local church must be capable to interact with the community on their terms. For the vast number of churches in the Christian community today they are not and the results are telling. ( I don't know enough about the state of non-christian churchs in the US today to say) .

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