Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Depressing Surveys With Silver Linings

There is yet another study showing the increase of secularism. The headline is that for the first time less than 50% of Americans self-identify as protestant. That is just a milestone more than anything else. The trend has been downward for some time. But I was interested in a point Jeffrey Wiess made:
Because drilling down, it looks like more of the remaining Americans who say they are religious are very religious. While the folks who were nominally attached to some particular church have decided to give that up.
He associates that with politics. I don't know if I agree with that. But the notion of the disappearing middle ground between secularism and Christianity is something that has been expected. People are less and less able to keep one foot in both camps. Part of it is that secularism keeps moving. Gay marriage is the latest non-negotiable doctrine of secularism. The demonizing of dissenters is much more intense as well. It is quite scary. So people have to choose. Churches have to choose. Either cave into the culture or accept being radically counter-cultural.

This is actually a great time for The New Evangelization. That is for the church to actively re-propose the Catholic faith to those who are just going through the motions. That is what Vatican II was all about. To have the laity catch the faith. Letting them become full-fledged members of the People of God, not just hanging onto the church but actually becoming one with the church and therefore with Christ.

For many years people just declared themselves to be one with the church and thought they had the spirit of Vatican II. That is not it. Unity with Jesus and with each other requires us to change. Jesus does not become like us. We become like Him.

But you can't do that in an atmosphere of dissent. Right after Vatican II we had Humanae Vitae. The most openly dissented form papal teaching in the history of the church. It really has taken this long to get to a point where most bishops and priests are willing to defend it.

So we are at an interesting time. The church is finally willing and able to engage in evangelizing secularized Catholics. At the same time those Catholics are really starting to feel that position becoming untenable. 1 Kings 18:21 comes to mind:
 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
That is the idea of a choice. If you think money, power and sex are really the most important things then go serve them. Give your life to those things. But if you really believe that Catholicism is the truth and Jesus is God then give your life to that. Don't waver between the two.

So we will have more Nones but we will also have more nuns and more priests and more great Catholic families.

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