Thursday, December 3, 2015

Let’s Hospice Our Church

John Chuchman is a Catholic, to my observation, a Catholic like I’m a Catholic.  It’s our spiritual home, come what may. It remains our blood family, no matter what differences we have with it. John and I exchanged books and I quote extensively (with permission and editing license) from one of his—Let’s Hospice Our Church:

            We are in a demographic collapse
                        of the priesthood.
            Anecdotes abound throughout the Church
                        about how the collar
                        trumps intellectual competence.
            
When are we going to pay attention?
The wheels are coming off the bus,
 and we are debating whether the seats
on the bus should be cloth or leather.

                        Priests are on anti-depressants.
            Congregations feel betrayed by Church leadership.

            It is no secret there is a widening chasm
            between official Church teachings
                        on human sexuality
            and the actual behavior of the vast majority
                        of the Catholic population.
            We don’t believe, deep down
            that the Church’s teaching is correct.

            The Magisterium has heavily invested its authority
            in maintaining these traditional teachings.

                        The Church is simply irrelevant.
The younger generation has simply decided to move on.
                        The Church is dying;
a new Church is being born.

            Hospice consciousness requires that we recognize
                                    the transition,
                                    the loss,
            the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression.

            Hope requires the willingness to work
                        for a non-guaranteed future.
            Prophets listen to groans of the people
                          and posit an alternate future.

12-10-2015
More than one responder to the previous post mentioned the last stage of the grief process—acceptance. Yes. In fact, Christians are far from accepting the demise of our great religion, but in its present form it will not continue. This the signs clearly show.
Many of my readers agree.
Deb commented,
very symbolic article for the future of Christianity as a world religion unless there is change.
Steve Applegate said,
The Church has no one but itself to blame. It persists in being a medieval institution. It could make key changes to become relevant again, but it chooses not to do so. If it passes from the scene, I will miss the one thing it excels in—worldwide missions to the poor.
Anonymous was struck by the title of my email invitation, “The Church is dying,” before she even looked at the title, “Let’s Hospice Our Church.”
I think the church is in the midst of a transformation/revolution—a repudiation of the old, out-of-date ways of being, in favor of a new system that is in fact truer to its original intent. The old has to die so the new can be reborn.
And many people fight change, maybe out of misunderstanding, maybe out of literal interpretations, maybe out of fear of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
But according to Ecclesiastes 3:
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up;
a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to get and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away;
a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.
Clearly, we live in a time of change. Unless Christianity adapts, it will eventually die. I’ll state my belief more starkly. I believe that it is dying right now, and I accept this. My generation still derives spiritual benefits from our religion, but this will diminish in succeeding generations as a new spiritual paradigm takes shape.
After I posted this, Mike emailed this information. Pope Francis seems to agree with me and my readers. I had read this and then forgot about it. Thanks, Mike.

*Editing note. As usual when I quote emails, I take the liberty of changing mechanics like punctuation, capitalization, etc.
Readers who pay attention to mechanics may think that I use upper and lower cases inconsistently with certain words, but I really try to be consistent. I consistently write “Church” when I mean the Catholic Church, and I write “church” when I refer to all Christian churches. I critique both.                      

5 comments:

Malcolm N said...

For decades I have held that moving in the Catholic Church in the western world is akin to moving among tombstones. Why look for the Risen One among the dead? Quite awhile ago people were shocked to hear, "God is dead." Well, the latest is: The Church is dead. For millennia, the center of gravity of Christianity used to be in the churches of the First World. No longer. Rome is a mausoleum. It's a great architectural monument that houses the corpse of the Catholic Church in the western world. It's well past high time that popes such as Francis move their office and headquarters to the Two-Thirds World where Christianity is alive, or at least more alive than in the First World. Use Rome as a museum to raise funds for faith-and-action in Two-Thirds World Churches. They would be happy to live and breathe free from First World Catholic meddling and interference. Charge high-price museum tickets for tourists and historians who visit Rome to research the historic demise of Christianity in the First World. The mausoleum of Western Catholicism, Rome, is the obvious place to start the tour and the research. That's the first order of business. The second follows: Stop sending missionaries from First World to Two-Thirds World. You don't have life-blood in your veins, so what are you missionizing about?

Kathleen said...

Thank you for an interesting discussion, Jeanette. If the Church will survive, it needs to adapt and change.

Chris said...

"If the Church will survive, it needs to adapt and change."

The way the liberal denominations are surviving?

The above quote is clearly false as born out by the evidence. The degree of " modernizing" that a church embraces seems to be in direct proportion to its degree of disintegration. How can relativism, nominalism, and humanism help the Church survive?

Kathleen said...

Chris, the Church spends lots of time and money on issues that have nothing to do with Jesus-i.e.,over a million fighting gay marriage in Minneapolis. Perhaps being "relevant" means getting back to what Jesus was about. The following quote from John Fuglesang applies:
"Jesus was a guy who was a peaceful, radical, nonviolent revolutionary, who hung around with lepers, hookers, and criminals, who never spoke English, was not an American citizen, a man who was anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, anti-public prayer (YES HE WAS Matthew 6:5), anti-death penalty but never once remotely anti-gay, didn’t mention abortion, didn’t mention premarital sex, a man who never justified torture, who never called the poor ‘lazy’, who never asked a leper for a co-pay, who never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, who was a long haired, brown skinned (that’s in revelations), homeless, middle eastern Jew? Of course, that’s only if you believe what’s actually IN the Bible.”

Chris said...

Kathleen,

Even if what you said is true, (they are all debatable) my point still stands. There are many Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church, that are "modernizing", that is, accepting what you said, and they are all weakening. Why?