27 April, 2009

Two neat, surprising reports

Both from the Washington Post:

  • Early marriage is better than delaying marriage. What matters more than either is a mature view of marriage.
    The fault lies less with indecisive young people than it does with us, their parents. Our own ideas about marriage changed as we climbed toward career success.

    …Marriage actually works best as a formative institution, not an institution you enter once you think you're fully formed. We learn marriage, just as we learn language, and to the teachable, some lessons just come easier earlier in life.
    Something the author doesn't mention has been on my mind lately: the glorification by the media of unmarried life, a great source of emotional insecurity.
  • Americans who stop attending churches largely do so because they lose interest (well, that's my choice of words: the article actually says, "a gradual spiritual drift") and not because of scandal or disillusionment.
    Almost three-quarters of Catholics and Protestants who are now unaffiliated with a religion said they had "just gradually drifted away" from their faith. And more than three-quarters of Catholics and half of Protestants currently not associated with a faith said that, over time, they stopped believing in their religion's teachings.
    On the other hand, I'm not so sure about this quote in the article:
    The results are a "big indictment" of organized religion, said Michael Lindsay, assistant professor of sociology at Rice University and author of a book on evangelical leaders.
    I'd love to see the context of that quote. What, exactly, is the indicment for? The usual whipping boy: insufficient hospitality? It seems that mainline chuches are suffocating us with attempts at artificial hospitality. There may be a point that there isn't a sufficiently strong sense of community, but that's not an easy thing to build. I've found myself least comfortable at churches that beat their chests about their great communities.

    On the other hand, my son's school requires service hours from the parents, not just the students. So there I was Saturday morning, digging holes for trees with two other fathers and the school principal. I've gotten to know more men in the Church through the school's Dad's Club than through the "grip and grin" that precedes many Masses, and the hospitality hours than postcede them.

    Maybe churches should start requiring service to the parish from their members? The Mormons require it of men who turn 18, and that's worked well for them at least. Yet requiring service seems to smack against a few harangues in St. Paul's epistles.

    Clearly it's been a mistake to drop the hellfire and brimstone sermons: when people were scared of hell, they didn't allow themselves to fall into "gradual spiritual drift," whatever that is.

    That's a joke. I suspect the zeitgeist myself, but what do I know?

1 comment:

Brandon said...

The big question, I think, would be whether they gradually drift away while at church or whether they find themselves less and less at church because they get busy with or interested in other things, and thus gradually drift away from church and faith both. That would make an immense difference.

I find it a bit heartening that people who put themselves in the 'no religion' category largely put themselves there because they are still looking; it means that people are not secularizing, just confused and searching. And confused and searching, dangerous though it may be, is pretty much staple for American religious life.