Saturday, January 27, 2007

In Praise of Simple Piety



The Lamentation over the Body of Christ by Giovanni Bellini, c. 1480-1500

When the sex abuse scandal broke upon the Church in Boston five years ago, falling on us like a mighty wave, the pastor of my parish invited people to gather together and feel free to vent and to talk about it. Those sessions led to the birth of the VOTF, which was formed at that very same parish. I know a lot of the founders. I've worked in parish ministries with quite a few of them. They are very good people, and for them, the formation of a group that would really work to put survivors first was a paramount concern. They are to be lauded for working closely in the healing process with many of the survivors of clerical sexual abuse to this very day. In addition, there was a issue of credibility at stake. These are people who love the Church and want to be able to look their children and grandchildren in the eye and say that they tried to do something about this... that they just didn't roll over and say that everything is going to be fine.... That they did do everything they could to make sure that children were going to be safe. They are still demanding accountability on the part of the bishops, because as we've seen, things can all too easily fall back into the status quo if nothing is done to challenge them.

In July of 2002 the VOTF held their first annual convention at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston and were pleased and very proud to have over 4,200 people attend, especially in light of the fact that the group was only a few months old.

Something instructive, however, happened almost exactly a year later. Someone noticed what looked like an image of the Virgin Mary on a window at Milton Hospital and over 25,000 people showed up over the next few weeks to take note of it and to pray there.

Now, I have a profound love and appreciation for the BVM as many Catholics do, but like many of the the sophisticated, well-heeled suburbanites in the VOTF, I find this kind of Marian excessiveness commonly found within Catholic ranks to be embarassing and hard to defend or excuse.

On the other hand, is it really me who's missing something here, whether you can brand this as superstition or not? Milton Hospital eventually took over $14,000 in unsolicited contributions to the hospital left by the crowds and offered it as Gulf Coast hurricane relief, ironically, to the Salvation Army.

Most VOTF members tend towards the liberal and progressive side. I've been to enough of their meetings and heard enough emphasis being placed upon the necessity for women's ordination and so forth to know that is the case. That's fine, but this post really isn't about the VOTF... The point is this... The liberal critique is missing something vital. There is a need out there that is not being met. Pastoral associates, catechists, and liturgists don't always seem to have their finger on the pulse of what drives and motivates the spiritual life of a great many people.

In this column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, he makes note of some observations made by the late Raymond Brown.
Those parishes and worshipping communities that most stress good theology and proper liturgy as a healthy corrective to privatized and devotional spirituality, often find they are losing parishioners to religious groups that stress a personal relationship to Jesus, that is, groups that come out of old-style Roman Catholic devotions or out of Protestant, "born-again" fundamentalism. Mainline pastors argue that this is not a healthy development and state, correctly, that liturgical worship should be the central piece to any ecclesiology and spirituality. But they are also learning communal worship alone, even when done with the greatest attention to proper ritual can lack something -- an accompanying personal spirituality.

Jesus needs a personal face and those conducting liturgy must help the community to know that face, otherwise liturgy alone leaves the community wanting for something. Brown goes on to suggest mainline Christians sometimes speak of "born-again Christians" pejoratively, suggesting that their stress on a privatized, salvific relationship to Jesus is not healthy. However, Brown suggests that the evangelist John might ask the mainline churches (and our liturgists and theologians) to be a little more sympathetic towards our devotionally-oriented and "born-again" siblings because, for John, Church membership alone is not a sufficient goal and liturgy is adequate only when it also helps effect a personal, affective relationship to Jesus.

Annie Dillard makes this comment: Sharing why she worshipped in a fundamentalistic, sectarian church (when her natural temperament was towards Roman Catholicism or high-church Protestantism) she replies: I go to that particular church because I like the minister. He actually believes what he preaches and when he says a prayer, he really means it."

Implied in that, sadly, is the comment that, in our high churches, that is not always so evident of those reading the word, leading the prayers, conducting the music and doing the preaching. I want to say this sympathetically, as Brown did, and yet not mute its challenge: For those of us who are "high church," either by temperament or denomination, it's too easy to look at the devotional stream within Roman Catholicism or the "low church" tradition within Protestantism and see it simply as "Jesus and I" spirituality, as excessively privatized, as seeking the wrong kind of security, as spiritually immature, as theological and liturgical backwater, and as deflecting people from the real centre, worship in liturgy.

In making such an assessment, partially, we are dangerously wrong, at least according to one New Testament writer.

In John's Gospel, ecclesiology and liturgy are subservient to the person of Jesus and a personal relationship to him. To teach this, John presents the image of "the beloved disciple," one who has a special intimacy with Jesus. For John, this intimacy outweighs everything else, including special service in the Church.

At the end of the day, Christianity must be about a real encounter with a person - the Divine Person of Jesus Christ.

Elsewhere, Rolheiser has written:
What is the Achilles heel in liberal Catholicism? One place where liberal Catholicism might want to do some self-scrutiny:

On our failure to inspire permanent, joyous religious commitment. Cardinal Francis George, speaking at a Commonweal magazine coloquium, said, "We are at a turning point in the life of the Church in this century. Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project. Essentially a critique, even a necessary critique at one point in our history, it is now parasitical on a substance that no longer exists. It has shown itself unable to pass on the faith in its integrity and is inadequate, therefore, in fostering the joyful self-surrender called for in Christian marriage, in consecrated life, in ordained priesthood."

This is not a comment that goes down well with everyone, especially with those of us who have given the best part of our lives struggling to open our churches up to a healthier, less-fearful relationship with modernism, science, secularity, and the real moral progress these have helped to bring to the world.

But George's comment strikes at a particular painful area. For all of our work at spreading the democratic principle, highlighting the plight of the poor, working at eliminating racism, pushing for gender equality and furthering ecological sensitivity, we haven't been able to inspire our own children to follow us in the faith path. It's something we must examine ourselves on.

There may be something to that. At the turn of the Twentieth Century, Mainline Protestantism went through something similar. It put a heavy emphasis on the social gospel, probably right in doing so, but suffered from a fundamentalist backlash that has since thinned their ranks considerably.

One VOTF member remarked to my wife recently that the only people who seem to care about what they are trying to accomplish are over 60. There may be some truth in that. When I look at Catholic blogs, the traditionalist sites seem to outnumber the progressives by about 20 to 1. For Protestant sites, it looks similar to me. Young people are looking for what they regard as "authenticity". They are looking for people who appear to really mean what they say.

Columist Muriel Porter has a take on it that brings the effects of secularism into play here in her article Vulnerability of the post-Christian generation:
The mainstream churches wring their hands in despair, but some of the blame clearly belongs with them. While the lives of women in particular and families in general have changed dramatically since the 1960s, the churches by and large have failed to listen, let alone lead.

The Catholic Church's blanket ban on artificial contraception, the Anglican Church's hard-fought but only piecemeal concessions to female equality, all the churches' resistance both to more fluid family structures and to homosexual partnerships, have combined to give Christianity a gloomy, life-denying, out-of-touch image. There has been no great temptation for secular people to seek the God the Christian churches preach.

Our secular society's addiction to consumerism, gambling and large-scale debt comes at a high price. The statistics on suicide, depression, family break-up and dysfunction all indicate deep, long-term insecurity and unhappiness.
When disillusionment sets in, people often long for a spiritual dimension in their lives, and so become easy prey for fundamentalist Christian groups with their slick marketing techniques and pseudo-contemporary, music-focused programs. With no religious background to provide the tools for discernment, they are readily swayed by the clear certainties and the harsh take-it-or-leave-it morality preached by charismatic authoritarian male church leaders.

It is no coincidence that the Pentecostal churches and the fundamentalist sections of mainstream churches are drawing large numbers of converts from the very generations who missed out on even a rudimentary Christian education - people ranging from teenagers to the early middle-aged. For a sizeable proportion of these young converts, however, disillusionment will inevitably set in once more. They will eventually chafe under the uncompromising ... teaching and reject it completely. But without an earlier religious background to provide perspective and suggest alternative approaches, they will reject all of Christianity with it. A bitter cynicism and deeper malaise will result.

And there is another sad result of secularisation. A culture without a religious story is fragile and rudderless when it comes to death. People with a residual belief in God but no coherent religious framework are often left floundering when tragedy strikes. Without familiar holy places, they resort to making shrines of the actual sites of death. Homely memorials now dot our highways, or the sites of suicides. Memorial plaques speak vaguely of God, but lack the hope and peace that earlier generations - ironically much more deeply affected by sudden and tragic family deaths - drew from their faith.

As a case in point, look a the number of Latin Americans who have left the Catholic Church for Pentecostalism in recent decades. The New York Times recently ran a four-part series on it. All too often, nominal, cultural, half-catechized Latin American Catholics have been lured away, and why should it be surpising? Who can blame them? We've failed them horribly, particularly by insisting on worshipping at the altar of mandatory priestly celibacy. They have not left because the Catholic Church is too conservative or inflexible. They have left for a faith that is far, far more conservative. A faith that makes it very clear what is expected of them with simple, uncomplicated doctrines. For those who were once gangbangers, addicts or alcoholics wearing a gold crucifix for no apparent reason, their new faith has challenged them to straighten out their lives, recover their dignity and self respect, and to spread that to others. In one of the New York Times articles, we read about the family of a convert named Mr Romero:
His wife, Esperanza, took longer to let go of her Roman Catholicism, particularly the room she had filled with statues of saints — worthless idols, according to Pentecostals, who believe that people should pray directly to God. Mr. Romero persuaded his wife that the statues had to go.

“I went in that room with a hammer, and I broke every saint that was there,” he recalled. “I smashed a table, a fountain full of water, an expensive one. I broke it all. I tied it up in a bag and tossed it in the farthest dump.”

He paused at the memory. “And nothing happened to me.”

What kind of folk religion taught him that something was supposed to happen to him for smashing plaster statues?

I'm not advocating that we respond by becoming as fundamentalist as those who would prosletyse us. What I am saying is that perhaps some of us of a progressive bent have become too clever for our own good, that some of our knowledge-seeking can be for adornment, and that maybe we should do a better job of respecting the simple (healthy) piety around us - to recognize the real human need for Christ that lies in depths of the hearts of all of us, and commonly manifests itself in ways that don't require a PhD. We shouldn't write if off as "adolescent faith." Nature hates a vacuum, and so does the universe of faith. If we don't show that proper respect and appreciation, then superstition and syncretism can be one risk we run and fundamentalism the other.

18 comments:

Charles of New Haven said...

I appreciate these reflections a lot, Jeff. These divisions and questions are strong--sometimes almost to the point of caricature--in religious life.

I was talking to a friar the other day who had gone to teach our novices for a week. He tried to get them to examine their assumptions about gender roles and hierarchy by asking them to recall their feelings around early experiences of sitting around the dinner table.

He said they looked at him with confusion; such a thing just wasn't part of their experience.

When I was fresh out of novitiate myself, I and some others moved into an old convent here in Boston. When a brother found a tacky old monstrance in the basement, the brother in charge told him to throw it in the dumpster. Now what's a young friar raised on EWTN supposed to do with that?

I long for a sensitivity to experience and sense of humor on both sides.

Jeff said...

Thanks Friar,

Having some familiarity with this region (I'm always amazed at how many Catholic blogs originate from the Boston area and greater New England), I'm sure you can relate to a lot of what I'm talking about.

The generational divisions within religious houses are stories I've heard a lot about. The pendulum swung one way back in the sixties and seems to be moving in a different direction now. This polarization is a major concern of mine. I try to navigate carefully, but I find I often disappoint people on both sides. I fear I'm too liberal for the conservatives and not far enough to the left for liberals. Maybe it's just reflective of the fact that the Church can't bear another decade of these dichotomies, unspoken-about-tensions, and ambiguities anymore.

crystal said...

Jeff,

The idea that a personal relationship with Jesus is uncatholic and weird is untrue, I think ... that is the basis of Jesuit spirituality.

One of the reasons I was disappointed with church was that it seemed to be all about the institution of the church, and there was a lck of emphasis on spirituality. Maybe it's not so much a question of fundamentalism vs liberalism, but of a spiritualality-driven faith vs an emotionally distant church driven faith?

Mike McG... said...

Thanks for these reflections, Jeff. Liberals are just as 'skilled' as conservatives at neglecting the call to personal conversion and seeming to prefer focus on institutional issues. I know I'm guilty as charged.

Back in the day, reference was often made to the simple faith of the Irish washerwoman. I remember, for example, my Irish grandmother allowing as how she couldn't imagine how people could live thorugh this 'vail of tears' without 'the faith.' Her grandchildren and great grandchildren are much more sophisticated...degreed, all of us...but far less rooted in a faith that sustains amidst the angst and depression comparable to her vail of tears.

As a progressive Catholic, I am increasingly convinced that there is something barren in our stripped down, cerebral Catholicism. Over the past week I have been stunned at our progressive disdain for a more personal faith as evidenced by the following Intentional Disciple thread at dotCommonweal:

http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/post/index/723/Intentional-Disciples

Perhaps we're too smart by half.

Liam said...

Great post, Jeff. It's interesting, I am extremely liberal in a lot of ways, especially regarding birth control, homosexuality, ordination of women, etc., but at the same time I like a lot of things that many liberal Catholics either dislike or look down on in a patronizing way. I like devotions like the rosary, the stations of the Cross, the use of Holy Water, adoration, the cult of relics, etc... I don't necessarily practice them, but I think they are all too often dismissed as old-fashioned and a distraction. They give a richness to the Catholic experience that works on an almost physical level.

Of course, what extremely conservative movements both within and outside of the Catholic Church offer people is rigid and simple certainty, and that's tough to compete with. I wonder if, as a religious culture, we are going through a king of Puritan stage that is reacting against the uncertain ground of modernism and postmodernism?

I think Crystal is right about Jesuit spirituality, but how many people, especially peope who have not had the opportunity of an education, ever get to experience it or even know of its existence?

crystal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff said...

Good comments guys... Very busy this week. I'll respond when I get a chance...

JC

Jeff said...

Hi Crystal,

I love Ignatian spirituality too. I think we both happen to be types who are always in the mode of "faith seeking understanding", and we can look at lots of eclectic ideas, but sometimes I wonder if that is for everyone. Not everyone is always looking for spirituality. Some people are looking for religion and everything that comes along with that (doctrines, dogmas, rules, succor, salvation... certainties). I think theologians are very important but they have to be careful about not getting to a level where they become so specialized that they wind up talking only to one another. They have to be accessible. I understand what you are saying about the institution. I'm not sure I get much of that impression when I'm at Mass. On the other hand, the institutional aspect is a part of, and will always be a part of Catholicism.

Jeff said...

Hi Mike,

It took me quite a while to read all the way through that thread on the Intentional Disciples on dotCommonweal. Fascinating dynamic there. The ID spokespeople were trying to calmly and rationally make an explanation for what they were all about, and I found some of the responses to be visceral and emotional. I can't even say they were progressive responses.

I think I can make a stab at what I think the objectors were trying to get at, but weren't articulating too well. Their objections weren't making a lot of sense, but there certainly was a subtext there that they were picking up intuitively. There are certain words and touch-phrases like "magisterial" and "assent to Church teaching" that have become emotion-laden in our Catholic cultural wars, and are sure to always stir up controversy. I think liberals and conservatives alike can agree that the texts of Vatican II call the laity to greater discipleship and holiness. Neither side will argue with that. The sticking point still continues to be, as it has been over the last few decades, the issue of authority.

Jeff said...

Hi Liam,

Interesting points you bring up, and I share some of that sentiment with you. Interesting, though, how lines have been drawn in the Church as if they had been fault lines that were always in place where they currently are, but that isn't necessarily the case. In Bare Ruined Choirs Garry Wills wrote about how the progressives in the 1950s were very much into Latin for prayer and liturgical renewal and the invocation of papal encycicals in support of social justice causes. Now Latin and the appeal to encylicals are more associated with traditionalism.
I love Gregorian Chant and Latin, but I get a bit uneasy now by the ecclesiology it has become identified with in a political sense.

I think a lot of things happened in the wake of Vatican II with well-meaning ecumenical intentions, like taking statues and votive candles out of the Churches, less emphasis on private devotions... things that seemed like extra-biblical Counter-Reformation accoutrements. It may have been a mistake to let go of so many distinctive cultural Catholic markers like our devotions, without anything to replace them. Even liberals like Andrew Greeley have commented that easing up on fish on Fridays was a huge mistake (although speaking for myself and my own pesce-phobia, I am most grateful).

crystal said...

Jeff,

I wonder if it's different for someone who grew up with a religion and someone like me who chose it as an adult?

I had a lot of assumptions about church, mostly from books and movies, so it was amazing to become part of it myself through the RCIA classes. I was so shy it was hard to be among so many strangers and to not be able to see them well, to not be sure about how to act, to not have the right clothes, etc. I loved being at church, but I was scared of all the people :-)

It is different with the soirituality stuff ... seems more like just me and God, so it's stressful in a different way.

Liam said...

Yes, I think you're right about things being taken away without giving something to replace them. I think also often liturgical reforms are enforced from above (even at the parish level, from an energetic and tyrannical pastor or liturgical director) without an explanation of the reason behind them. This is often done by both traditionalists (no altar girls because I said so!) and progressives (no kneeling after the Angus Dei because I said so!).

I am a great lover of Latin and chant, though I think having the liturgy in the vernacular is a good idea. In my parish there is a good mix. There are also different Masses with different kinds of music (e.g., with a choir that does things like Palestrina at one, a jazz Mass Sunday evening, a Spanish Mass with drums and guitars).

The music director is starting up a schola cantorum dedicated to teaching people who bray like a donkey like me to learn gregorian chant. I'm signing up.

Jeff said...

Crystal,

Yes, I do think that growing up in a particular tradition makes it different.

You really touched upon something there with regards to community in terms of personal shyness, etc... I've often heard converts say that when they first started visiting or worshipping in a Catholic Church, they were stuck by the fact that no one really noticed them. In some other types of faith communities, someone will be there to greet you at the door with a smile and a handshake, and will ask you all about yourself. I've heard some people who lament that this doesn't typically happen in Catholic Churches and others who take a kind of comfort out of it.


Liam,

The music director is starting up a schola cantorum dedicated to teaching people who bray like a donkey like me to learn gregorian chant. I'm signing up.

That's great! I think that is part of the genius of Gregorian Chant. You don't need to be a great singer to do it.

Steve Bogner said...

Jeff, I've been a VOTF member since the early days. My parish has a VOTF group, and a couple years ago at one of their first meetings they were talking about their frustrations in not attracting more young-ish people. I was around 38 back then, and I was the youngest person there. My feedback to them - realize that we 'young' people come from a post-Vatican 2 world, and we can't really identify with the older folks' V2 gripes. Shock & silence followed; maybe I was too blunt, but it seems to me that what united them (though they tried hard to stick to victims & priestly support) was a platform of what they were against, not what they were for.

In the years that have followed, I've seen a mellowing of my parish, a turn from identifying with liberal Jesuit causes to a more personal & spiritual nature (which is also part of the Jesuit/Ignatian nature, but a less known part). And it has been led by the post-V2 families and local university students.

You know, there are all sorts of ways to be Catholic - from cerebral to devotional to whatever. But I think many folks are boxed-in by the identity of their own parish's brand of Catholicism. We don't teach our kids, or our adults, about all this diversity - and so if their current parish doesn't 'fit' they think *Catholicism* doesn't fit them. It's a subject I've intended to write about for a while (just need the time!).

sushil yadav said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.


Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.


When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.



A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.



FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.

SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.

A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.

A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.


To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

PlanetSave

EarthNewsWire

sushil_yadav

Jeff said...

Hi Steve,

Great remarks, and I’m looking forward to reading your comments when you get the opportunity
to write about it in depth.

I can tell you that my experience has very much been the same as yours. After the 2002 Convention, I noticed that the VOTF momentum had suddenly slumped. I think they made a serious tactical mistake in having a panel of speakers entirely associated with the Catholic left. There should have been some balance there. I asked in one of the subsequent meetings if any conservatives had been invited to address the conference, and I was told that invitations had been made, but that they had been refused (that is probably true… I read something Jim Muller once wrote indicating that George Weigel had been very perfunctory and dismissive of them when they contacted him). What struck me, though, was the attitude towards that. It was sort of like “this train is leaving the station… If the conservatives don’t want to be on board, so be it. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” I think this was a mistake.

I’m sort of an “in-betweener” between this older generation you speak of and the younger generation. I still believe in Vatican II, even though the world has changed a great deal since then. I’ve heard members of this older generation lament that the younger generation doesn’t want to pick up the mantle of Vatican II, and I have to explain to them that I’ve spent hours and hours on the web trying to convince young Catholics who still care about these things that Vatican II was not a Communist/Masonic-inspired plot to bring down the Catholic Church. The older folks look at me without comprehending. I don’t know if they are aware of what is out there on the web. I’ve heard them in meetings talk about the tears and pain and stress in their marriages back in the sixties over battles fought over the contraception issue, an issue which hardly affects young Catholics whatsoever. I don’t know, and I must be careful not to bear false witness, but you get a sense that even the young couples among the supposedly “new orthodox” who attend conservative retreats, workshops and conferences are sleeping together. It’s something that young people have just decided to make up their minds about on their own, no matter what part of the divide they come down on.

Ladislas Orsy SJ gave a wonderful talk at my parish once about Vatican II. One of these days I’m going to post my notes on it here. One of the things he emphasized was the importance stressed at the Council on being able to read the “Signs of the Times.” What I think he and others may not realize is how different the signs of the times are now from what they were 40 years ago. There is one thing that has come around full-circle, though. The real possibility of nuclear conflagration (the Council began under the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis).

Another thing Fr. Orsy emphasized was the importance of accepting diversity. A close friend of mine and I got into an intense, heated discussion a few weeks ago. He was voicing his distrust of the VOTF and I was voicing my distrust of the new Latin Mass Indult community that had just been formed at a parish close by to us that the diocese had previously been contemplating the closure of. We both calmed down enough, however, to realize that we both need an appreciation for diversity. We realized we were both heaping and projecting our own sense of political baggage on these groups, perhaps unfairly. After all, the word “Catholic” means “universal”, and if something is going to be “universal”, it going to have to be able to tolerate some diversity within it.

Jeff said...

I think Sushil’s post brings up some evidence that’s hard to argue with. I’ve always suspected as much. His thesis may be right on the money.

One day Anne and I were talking to the principal of the parochial school that several our children attend, about the prevalence of ADD and autism in children today. This principal, a nun, indicated that she thinks that something has definitely been happening within the minds of children over the past few decades. She spoke of her experience of being a young novice teaching in the working-class city of Lowell back in the fifties, having to handle a class of 50 kids or so on her own. The kids stayed in their seats and paid attention. She had no real problem keeping the class under control. Now, even with classes less than half the size, it is a chore to maintain order. In her opinion, it goes far beyond a matter of brattiness or children brought up without proper discipline. She thinks there is something physiological going on.

I’ve often wondered what the affects of television images and video games have on the minds of children. Could these rapid images be killing slow emotions, as Sushil says? I really think so, especially within the last few years, as the style and pace of editing gets quicker and quicker. I can hardly stand to go to the movie theater anymore. The quick visual cuts and blaring soundtracks are getting to be too much for me.

In the realm of religion, can this have an impact? We seem to be a society that increasingly scorns formality and increasingly demands stimulation, entertainment, and instant gratification. Neither trend bodes particularly well for the Catholic style of worship, which tends towards the contemplative.

Interesting that Sushil is posting from India. Perhaps the affects there are all too obvious. With the proliferation of I/T services and back-end office jobs that have sprung up in India, the dichotomy between the worlds of the haves and have-nots must be even more striking. It is not so much a middle-class that is being built, but the formation of an overclass that further extends the gap between the rich and the poor. A gap that is also between technocrats and agrarians.

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.