Monday, April 09, 2007

Catholicism, Islam, and Godless Europe

Yesterday's New York Times Magazine has an excellent cover story on Pope Benedict's vision of restoring Christian roots in a Europe that is in spiritual decline. (Here's a picture of a store selling postcards of the Pope.)

Especially interesting to me is the report of how Lay Catholic movements that provide spiritual nourishment, authentic community, are activists for peace, and reach out to society's marginalized do attract people. We read: "Data on declining church attendance obscure the fact that there is a good deal of spiritual hunger in Europe, but it is largely outside institutional religion, a phenomenon that the British sociologist Grace Davie calls “believing without belonging.”"

This article can instruct us about our country. America is in spiritual decline. Some think we will become like Europe spiritually. My own belief is that the common televangelistic distortion of Jesus and the Gospel, and its loss of the core teaching of the Kingdom of God, now contributes to youthful disinterest and even scorn of "Christianity." Real Christians who are actual followers of Jesus must continue to live out the Kingdom in the midst of the spiritual mess that is now America. As pseudo-Christianity wanes, great, ontological, spiritual hunger remains, as ever.