Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Thursday, April 21, 2005

"If you want a gay, abortionist church, found one of your own."

Radioblogger has posted a transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Mark Steyn yesterday.

Here is Steyn on the the new pope and the rise of Islam in the West:

I think [Pope Benedict XVI] understands, for example, that Islam is the fastest growing religion in Canada, America, Britain and Europe because it's not like the Frank Griswold Episcopal Church. It doesn't say hey, man, whatever your bag is, we're cool with that. If you want a gay church, you want a lesbian church, you want an abortionist church, we'll go along with that. It's precisely because Islam is a demanding religion that it has an appeal. And no one needs a religion that merely licenses your appetites. And this is what the guys like Frank Griswold and the Episcopal Church don't seem to realize. You know, the churches that are complaining about this fellow, are the churches that the New York Times want the Catholic Churches to be like. These are the churches in decline, and frankly, I think a lot of these critics have made themselves look actually rather ridiculous in being unable to see it like this. If you want a gay, abortionist church, found one of your own. There's nothing in Catholic theology of the last 2,000 years to suggest that they'd be cool with that.

Steyn hits the nail on the head here. If Catholic and "mainline" Protestant churches are in decline in the West, the catalyst for that decline is the pervasive secularization of those churches, not their resistance to it. When churches become merely glorified social service organizations, people will eventually decide it's easier, and just as spiritually fulfilling, to send the check in to Chrisitan Children's Fund every month. People hunger for meaning -- for a reason to live and a reason to die. They may not always like it, but they nevertheless expect and want their church to say "change your life;" they want to be reminded of a God who says, "Give away all you have and come follow me." When their religious experience consists of getting together with a nice group of like-minded people -- most of whom have "Free Tibet" and "War is not the answer" bumper stickers on their Volvos -- and discussing how we can be tolerant of one another, with a few prayers tossed in as a kind of sacred spice, then religion becomes merely another niche market for the secular, consumerist culture. And the niche gets increasingly smaller as the consumer realizes that he can buy the same product, sans the sacred spice, much more cheaply in the "self-actualization" section of the nearest mega-bookstore. What we really want is a different "product" entirely -- a much more expensive one, for which we would be quite happy to pay the price.


Blogger Jeff said...

Well said, Kate Marie. (In fact, I think you said it with more class than Steyn did.)

What's interesting to me is that often implicit (and sometimes explicit) in the arguments of the Andrew Sullivans of the world is the suggestion that the Catholic Church is missing out on some massive infusion of youth and life because of its stands on certain issues. I'd bet that the ranks of people 40 and under who embraced Catholicism under JP2 far outnumber the dissenters of the past three decades. For every Andrew Sullivan who would start going to church again if Catholic doctrine became more "liberal," there'd be two or three married couples who'd stop going. I can respect dissenters, but I just don't think that the dissenters' "the Church will wither and die without my unique wonderfulness!" argument is based in reality. For the reasons you gave, the Catholic Church is probably much more likely to be demographically healthy if it keeps doing what it's doing: providing something that people can't get anywhere else.

April 21, 2005 8:32 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Thanks very much, Jeff.

You make a great point, too. So many of the people who are clamoring for the liberalization of the church aren't likely to be going -- or to start going -- to ANY church at all, so their dissent rings rather hollow.

I do sympathize with Andrew Sullivan, because he seems to sincerely love the church. I think the conflict that he is experiencing is real, and I'm sure it hurts. But as you said, the reality of his conflict doesn't make his implicit argument about liberalization any more convinving.

April 22, 2005 2:46 AM  
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October 11, 2005 10:01 PM  

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