I got dem old post-modern blues
This blog is becoming increasingly popular among my colleagues: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/27/why-millennials-are-leaving-the-church/
It is well-written. I agree with some of what the writer says. I foresaw the desire she speaks of for authenticity a generation ago, and I am happy to greet her and her generation at the church doors. I've been plugging authenticity, the ancient faith, a high sacramental tradition for nearly forty years -- in fact, ever since I was younger than she is now.
But there are things here also that really irk me. She talks about "the evangelical obsession with sex." Now, I'm more orthodox or traditional than I am evangelical, but still: how dare she say we
are obsessed with sex? This is a debate that has been thrust upon us, in my view. I have always dealt kindly and carefully with sexuality, mindful that my generation didn't have a great track record as regards this area of life. I have preferred to talk with people about building a better life, not keeping track of old sins. But in the meanwhile, society has kept becoming more and more obsessed with sex. We have been hammered with it throughout my career. The sexual obsessions of society, of people who demand that we call them to holiness but not in that
area of life, of seekers who say they want the ancient faith but not the ancient practice, the garden variety, vulgar, everyday sins of self-righteousness and self-indulgence have been beating on the doors of the Church my entire life.
"We want an end to the culture wars," Ms. Evans writes. I reply, then quit demanding the Church surrender to anti-Christian values.
"We want a truce between science and faith." I reply, the two are not opposed for those who know them well, though the sloganeers on both sides do their best to muddy the waters.
"We want to ask questions that don't have predetermined answers." I reply, there are many such questions, but are you really wanting to ask them, or do you just insist that you be allowed to make up any answers that you like and substitute them for the Scriptures and the ancient wisdom of the Church?
"We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation." I reply, I agree -- let's start with the golden calf of progressive politics as worshiped by Mainline Protestantism. Oh, you didn't mean
that political party. My bad.
"We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities." I reply, so do I. But while I welcome everyone, I am not at liberty to say your sins -- or their sins -- or my sins -- are not sins. If to feel "truly welcome" you mean we have to say things and do things that stand the plain meaning of Scripture and the tradition of all humankind on its head, well then, I don't see that that helps anybody. And it's certainly not more "authentic."
She hates being marketed to, and then tells us how to market to her generation.
Well, I'll tell ya. I've been out of step before. I was a young fogey back then, with my high sacramental views and my reverence for tradition. I wanted the real thing, not the slogans and the fads. Back then, I was in step as regards sexuality and out of step as regards liturgy; nowadays, I'm more in step as regards liturgy and out of step as regards sexuality. but I
haven't changed that much: society has. And what I know is that the Church is always out of step with society, always calling people away from false values to true ones.
That means we preach against materialism and snobbery and going along to get along. We also preach against pride and lust and gluttony. Sometimes the conservatives cheer us and the liberals hiss, and sometimes it's the other way around. But if you want REAL, Ms. Evans, it doesn't come in a "New and Improved Just for Millennials" package. It doesn't endorse your parents' prejudices, but -- here's the hard thing -- it doesn't endorse your prejudices, either. It will change you, and you'll be glad to be so changed; whereas, if you succeed in changing it, then you will feel cheated in the end. That's REAL.