Exaggerated Reports Of Death
The Catholic church has existed for 2000 years by the grace of the Holy Spirit - it has not been perfect (nothing is perfect where human beings are in place) and it has at times seemed doomed due to those imperfect humans within it. But it continues and will continue, in one form or another. And also because if someone wants to put Jesus on trial, well…the last time they tried to do that, he just came back stronger…
I have no doubt that sometime in the coming decades the church (both big and little C) will be attacked politically, financially, legally - in every way. I have no doubt that at some point we will be worshipping underground again. When the church is oppressed, she is also most fervent.
And so it is. God, the Church and religion have been declared dead so many times by so many people that all the obituaries put together exceed the number of words contained in the Encyclopedia Brittania.
That said, God, the Church and religion in general seems to have more lives than the critics would acknowledge. Religion in America is alive, well, vibrant and contributes mightily to the strength of the nation.
In fact, the greater the efforts to bury religion only serve to bloster it. That was clearly noted by Michael Lerner, of Tikkun: Within an article that will clearly anger many- for cause and because of many oversimplifications, there are many truths to found:
...But what has been absent from the liberal program has been “subjective caring”: helping people feel that they are part of a society in which people actually do care about them, that they are not just anonymous cogs in a big machine that periodically spews out some financial benefits to keep the system from overheating. And this is precisely what the churches offer but the state does not.
What liberals continue to miss is that human beings have other kinds of needs, for example a need to be valued, to be cared for, to be loved, to be recognized, and to feel that their life has some meaning and purpose and is not just a means to someone else’s needs. We call these spiritual needs. Their fulfillment cannot be easily measured by objective evidence or quantitative research. So, during the heyday of the American welfare state, Democrats built government programs that gave no value to “subjective caring,” and government workers were penalized if they were so inefficient as to take time to actually show personal concern about the people who were receiving “objective caring.”...
Liberals mistakenly assume that if only the Right were to go away, everything would be fine. But that’s not true. People experience pain in their lives because of the ways in which society is organized, not because of the Religious Right. The Religious Right acts in ways that use and manipulate pain, and for that it needs to be challenged. But the challenge will get nowhere if it doesn’t simultaneously recognize these “meaning” or “spiritual” needs.
That’s why the “keep values out of the public sphere” approach of many secular liberals is such a non-starter. The public sphere is saturated with the competitive materialistic values of the society. Institutions are judged to be efficient if they produce money or power. There’s nothing neutral or objective about that criterion of productivity—it is itself a substantive worldview that is built into the normal operations of daily life, reinforced by an educational system that teaches children to compete to get ahead so that they can get the right jobs and earn enough money to be “successful.”
Is it any wonder that people who want different values start to question the worth of our public institutions and seek to de-fund them, or to send their children to private schools and get the government to supply funding in the form of vouchers, or to support candidates who call for lower taxes? They want a different kind of world in which there is far more caring, and far more value given to cooperation and love and appreciation of nature and community.
The Anchoress only states a truth of the ages: "When the church is oppressed, she is also most fervent."
She isn't referring to the institution that is the church, but rather, she speaks of the foundation of the Church- those who put their trust in God and find peace under His tent.