State of the Church

The New York Times’ Ross Douthat has an excellent post on the state of American Catholicism. His very balanced views–which he explains in detail–can be summed up by his concluding sentence:

There is rubble everywhere, and fallen arches and sagging walls and cracking ceilings — but there is also still a foundation of belief upon which a stronger church might yet be built.

I would assess American Protestantism similarly. We are losing (fast) the easy sense of cultural authority and institutional security. We aren’t living in Christendom. The general culture doesn’t respect us, the younger generation has no plans to come back to church once they have children. Even the faithful have their doubts and their ideas.

Roughly speaking, we are becoming like Europe–much less churched, much less prone to pay attention to the church. There are advantages in that. When I visit the UK I’m struck that active Christians are a tiny sliver of the population but they don’t seem surprised or dismayed by it. That may be a healthier place to start from.

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