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Old 03-12-2009, 11:31 PM   #1
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The post-Christian West?



The coming evangelical collapse | csmonitor.com
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:49 AM   #2
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Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the "conversion" of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.
Or, at least, a post-fundamentalist, evangelical Christian West. Admittedly, my own faith tradition has little to nothing in common with these people; and, as an outsider looking in, much of what they believe and desire for this world seems ridiculous anyway. So, in that regard, bring on the collapse, if it means having Christianity no longer being defined by inane culture wars and illogical, anti-intellectual beliefs that seem to come out of nowhere, except a desire to condemn everything in the modern world.

And, on a similar note...

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Will the evangelicalizing of Catholic and Orthodox communions be a good development? One can hope for greater unity and appreciation, but the history of these developments seems to be much more about a renewed vigor to "evangelize" Protestantism in the name of unity.
This is something I somewhat see happening already in the U.S., as the old early 20th century European immigrant flavours of Catholicism give way to a syncretic brand of "Protestantized" Catholicism, perhaps as an inevitable reflection of "American" religious sentiments, as the immigrant cultures that created a lot of these churches have assimilated and died out.

It's not something I welcome, though. I saw a Catholic church advertise a "tent revival" back home once, and I felt a little nauseous inside. Part of me, I guess, has always been more comfortable with--for lack of a better term--the medieval Gothic-style/Latin feel of the church over the "Peter, Paul and Mary" acoustic guitar-playing, circular, modern, bland-looking, "Protestantized" churches of the last 40 years.
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:51 AM   #3
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Wow. Powerful article. Bracing to read.

I think this guy pretty much hit the nail on the head.

American evangelicalism signed it's death warrant when it decided to ignore Jesus' specific statement about the nature of His kingdom, i.e. that it was not of this world.
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:09 AM   #4
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An interesting read, thanks for posting the article.
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:29 AM   #5
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Christianity has always worked best when it is counter-cultural. When it becomes the dominant ideology, it is too easily corrupted by those who would use religion for their own ends...
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:42 AM   #6
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Christianity has always worked best when it is counter-cultural. When it becomes the dominant ideology, it is too easily corrupted by those who would use religion for their own ends...
This, unfortunately, is very true.

With all this said, I'm not at all worried about the faith. It's going through many changes, a lot of which are exciting, and I think it'll be more vibrant in the near future. A new awakening, as some are calling it.

Even Calvinism is coming back strong. The "new" Calvinism is No. 3 on Time's 10 ideas changing the world now list:

3. The New Calvinism - 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now - TIME
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:48 AM   #7
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With all this said, I'm not at all worried about the faith. It's going through many changes, a lot of which are exciting, and I think it'll be more vibrant in the near future. A new awakening, as some are calling it.
Religion is always changing, really, with as much certainty as the passage of time. Christianity of the 19th century is different than that of the 20th century, and so will the 21st century make its own imprint on how we and future generations define "religion."
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:53 AM   #8
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Religion is always changing, really, with as much certainty as the passage of time. Christianity of the 19th century is different than that of the 20th century, and so will the 21st century make its own imprint on how we and future generations define "religion."
Exactly.
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:20 PM   #9
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We have plenty of celebrities to worship
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Old 03-13-2009, 11:35 PM   #10
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The article is correct.

Christians will be sifted as wheat before the 2nd coming of Christ.

I fully expect this but have no fear.

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Old 03-13-2009, 11:40 PM   #11
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The last ten years (in the US) were the aberration, the long term trend is away from religion, towards securalism.
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:12 AM   #12
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The last ten years (in the US) were the aberration, the long term trend is away from religion, towards securalism.
I don't think the U.S. was particularly more religious in the last ten years.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:14 PM   #13
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In my confirmation class, I know most kids as soon as they're confirmed are going to stop going to church. Most young people just don't care about faith anymore. Most people in my church are really old. Churches are going to get really empty in the next 20 years.
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:01 PM   #14
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In my confirmation class, I know most kids as soon as they're confirmed are going to stop going to church. Most young people just don't care about faith anymore. Most people in my church are really old. Churches are going to get really empty in the next 20 years.

I don't know if I agree with this... I guess it depends on location. I see a big movement of young Christians where I live, they worship much differently than their parents, but the numbers are strong. The church where I attend is majority under the age of 30 and it's a BIG church.
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:16 PM   #15
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This is something I somewhat see happening already in the U.S., as the old early 20th century European immigrant flavours of Catholicism give way to a syncretic brand of "Protestantized" Catholicism, perhaps as an inevitable reflection of "American" religious sentiments, as the immigrant cultures that created a lot of these churches have assimilated and died out.

It's not something I welcome, though. I saw a Catholic church advertise a "tent revival" back home once, and I felt a little nauseous inside. Part of me, I guess, has always been more comfortable with--for lack of a better term--the medieval Gothic-style/Latin feel of the church over the "Peter, Paul and Mary" acoustic guitar-playing, circular, modern, bland-looking, "Protestantized" churches of the last 40 years.
I remember there was this 50s-ish math teacher at the Catholic high school I attended for 2 years who used to regularly rant in class about what he considered to be the post-Vatican-II watering down of Catholic intellectual discourse... "In Catholic school you used to study catechism, Catholic philosophy. Now they got you doing 'Teen Life' units, 'keeping a spiritual journal', stupid kiddie stuff like this. 'Teen Life'--what the hell does that even mean...!" or "When I was a kid, priests gave real homilies about ideas, theology--they spent hours working on them! Now you get some damn babble about ' While I was brushing my teeth this morning I was just thinking...' ". He never griped about church music that I can recall, but I'm sure if we'd asked he'd have had a rant about that too, lol. Admittedly, this teacher was quite the crank (he was also the wrestling coach, with all the hardass stereotypical gruffness that might bring to mind), and I remember him saying all this mostly because he was such a character. And actually, from my POV, I found most of the (few, Southern) Catholics I knew at that time to be if anything comparatively well-informed about theology, and I found our (required) religion courses there fairly interesting even if, yeah, there were a few dumb 'kiddie' units. But the general complaint or rueful nostalgia he was expressing is something I've heard over and over from others since then.

I think you're probably right about the loss of "immigrant flavours" playing a big role in it; I also think it's part of a broader phenomenon of religious institutions, period, having to come to terms with secular (post-)modernity, with the reality that they don't define the structure and daily life of communities as much as they used to, and not having fully figured out yet how to meaningfully address the spiritual needs that people still come to them for in a way that reflects that reality. You see the same thing in Judaism, small though we are, and in other religious minority communities as well. I attended a Jewish high school in Brooklyn my last 2 years of high school, which was total social shock for me in all kinds of ways, but one of the biggest was the gradual realization that there's a rather large sector within the Jewish community who haven't raised their kids to have any sense of Jewish identity whatsoever--not just that they aren't religiously observant, but also that they don't make any effort to impart a sense of Jewish history, Jewish culture and thought, basic Jewish ethics, etc.--but then for some reason when their kids become teenagers, they panic, go "omg they won't have any idea at all what it means to be Jewish!!" and then their solution for this is to pack them off to a nice Jewish high school, where maybe they'll at least learn some Hebrew or join a Zionist youth group, and somehow by osmosis or something that's supposed to yield this powerfully collective-identity-affirming experience. And sometimes it does, but in my opinion often in a bad way, a way that yields something which looks more like chauvinistic particularism than anything else. Granted, Jewishness is fundamentally a form of tribal identity and Christianity isn't like that, not even Catholicism; nonetheless, I do think the underlying predicaments here are quite similar. And the response the author of the OP article has to all this reminds me in turn of many of the things Jim Wallis of the Sojourners movement has criticized about contemporary evangelical Christianity, which in turn has an analogue in the Jewish Renewal/Tikkun movement, and probably also in various other movements that I don't even know about within other religious communities. We're all going to need more like those in the near future, I think.
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