Sunday, October 12, 2008

Or, as I like to call it, "The Church of the Great Cosmic Gumball Machine"

Now here is a quote that speaks to the problem of catechizing teenagers (and some other folks as well) in the present age:

[Christian]Smith — himself an evangelical — led an exhaustive study of the religious & spiritual lives of American teenagers, and his findings (published in the book Soul Searching and also found in a dvd with the same title) found that whatever the religious beliefs professed by American teens (and, I’d argue, by adults as well), the vast majority of them “practiced” what he terms “Moralistic Therapuetic Deism”, a worldview in which God acts as divine butler or cosmic therapist: there when I need Him, but out of the way otherwise and most of the time.

Chris Burgwald at American Catholic.

Having taught weekly faith formation classes for middle schoolers for a number of years (high schoolers briefly, but they're a bit easier) and currently enduring my own last two (out of four) teenagers plus their various friends and acquaintances, I feel his pain.

I could never quite wrap my brain around the debate I once had with an eighth-grade girl in one of my classes who habitually expressed her disdain for matters of church teaching and evidently regarded herself as very forward-thinking for doing so. One day I made the mistake of using the word "myth" in reference to the Genesis creation story* and had to spend considerable class time defending myself when she declared the belief (picked up from well-trained young-earth creationist schoolmates--how do those folks manage to indictrinate so thoroughly at such a difficult age?) that dinosaurs existed concurrently with humans as "proven" by the descriptions of Leviathan and Behemoth in the book of Job. Never mind my pointing out that crocs and hippos were both well-known, by reputation if not by personal experience, to the writers of Hebrew scripture.

For goodness' sake, if you're going to dabble in modernism, why rebound to fundamentalism over minor points?

*Although we would be mere monerans (anachronistic archaebacteria?) in the TTLB ecosystem if such a category existed and can usually count our hits on one hand, I just know somebody is going to drop in and rake me over the coals for even breathing the word myth in the same sentence with the book of Genesis. Not that it will be likely to make any difference, but I submit definition one of Webster's New World Dictionary, 1979 by William Collins Publishers (I am a fossil,aren't I?), edited for brevity only:

A traditional story of unknown authorship, ostensibly with a historical basis, but serving usually to explain some phenomenon of nature, the origin of man, or the customs, institutions, religious rites, etc. of a people...

Or as I put it to the young lady in question at the time, a story that employs poetic or figurative language to teach a fundamental truth.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

On your fear:
I think that the PaulBot webcrawlers have been hired out....

10:44 PM  
Blogger CMinor said...

Hmmm...might explain some of the odd links from which some of today's visitors came...

11:07 AM  

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