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REAL CLEAR RELIGION

Culture, Christianity, Catholic Dogma & The Death Of The West

Culture, Christianity, Catholic Dogma & The Death Of The West

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AN ALL ENCOMPASSING RETURN TO TRADITION


A recent article focusing on the return to tradition in all religions appeared in
U.S. News and World Report. It seems that it is not just Catholicism that is returning to tradition-- every major religion is undergoing "a return to tradition and orthodoxy, to past practices, observances, and customary ways of worshiping".

One could have guessed that this would eventually take place since the last 50 years have seen Christianity stripped of all mystery tradition and even orthodoxy. From Catholicism, to the store front inner city Baptist church, to the mega churches that resemble stadiums, we see a "Starbucks effect" where Christianity has became homogenized. The focus has been on feelings and emotions of congregants rather than the sacrifice of Jesus.

But the generation that ushered in the fad of barren and individualistic Christianity is aging and its rebellion against tradition seems like nothing more than an ugly trend to the younger generations. This elderly generation however will not concede loss quietly...

"Some liberal Catholic clergy are completely skeptical about the scope and meaning of the traditionalist turn. "It's more hype than reality," says the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and political scientist at Georgetown's Woodstock Theological Center. Reese thinks the church should focus less on the Latin mass than on the three things that draw most churchgoers: "good preaching, good music, and a welcoming community."

This is the pew-emptying plan that liberal Catholics cannot let go of. Preaching and good music can be had as one drives in a car to the supermarket, and as for a welcoming community--who needs religion for that? By the way Rev. Thomas Reese happens to be the former editor of the notorious America magazine. He also states that he is...

"equally dubious about all the attention being devoted to the habit-wearing Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and a few other traditional religious orders that have enjoyed an uptick in younger members. "I have no problem with their habits," says Reese. "On the other hand, if the church ordained women, we'd have thousands more women coming forward."

Spoken like a true authority-despising dissident. But while Reese fails to recognize the beauty of tradition in his own Church and seeks futilely to "protestanize" it--mega church protestants may be rediscovering ancient Christianity and indeed the liturgy...

"Talk to Carl Anderson, the senior pastor of Trinity Fellowship Church, and you get [the] idea...The entrepreneurial model adopted by so many evangelical churches, with its emphasis on seeker-friendly nontraditional services and programs, had been successful in helping Trinity build its congregation, Anderson explains. But it was less successful in holding on to church members and deepening their faith or their ties with fellow congregants. Searching for more rootedness, Anderson sought to reconnect with the historical church.

"...Not surprisingly, that move was threatening to church members who strongly identify with the Reformation and the Protestant rejection of Catholic practices, including most liturgy.
But Anderson and others tried to emphasize the power of liturgy to direct worship toward God and "not be all about me," he says...."Adopting the weekly Eucharist, saying the Nicene Creed every two or three weeks, following the church calendar, Trinity reshaped its worship practices in ways that drove some congregants away. But Anderson remains committed, arguing that traditional practices will help evangelical churches grow beyond the dependence on "celebrity-status pastors."

Here is another mega-church convert to liturgy...

"Something of a celebrity ex-pastor himself, Brian McLaren, founder of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Md., ... instituted a Eucharistic liturgy and contemplative prayer retreats. And he appreciates the role of tradition in the new self-organizing communities that are sprouting up around the country. "

And here is another pro-liturgical Protestant...

"Tony Jones, author of The New Christians: Dispatches From the Emergent Frontier and national coordinator of Emergent Village, talks about the postmodern aspects of the new traditionalism. People of the postmodern mindset—particularly 20- and 30-somethings—question the hyperindividualism of modern culture....The young neotraditionalists also have an almost intuitive attraction to liturgy, ritual, and symbol as forms of knowledge that complement the dominant rational, scientific one."

These are indeed dangerous practices for Protestants who want to continue being Protestants because as we all know-- to be steeped in history is to cease to be protestant.