The following is from The Barna Research Group:
Do you remember when Catholics were a distinct segment of America, and many people wondered what to make of them? Those days are long gone, according to the latest Barna survey. Catholics are not only the largest denominational group in the U.S., but are now part of the social mainstream. The survey explored 97 facets of the lives of Catholics and compared them to national norms. The outcome is striking - and, in some cases, disturbing.
I have to agree with our friend Genevieve at Real Clear Religion, CATHOLICS MUST RECLAIM THEIR SPIRITUAL AND CULTURAL DISTINCTIVENESS - see her comments on this by clicking here.
I find it interesting that from educators as well as from catechists there is growing concerns about the dumbing down process and how it has us spiraling into what seems like a black hole of empty and barren information. From math and science to history and anthropology to religious studies ... all of these have undergone a serious thinning of their roots by such contributing factors as teaching/learning through 'sound-bytes', attention deficit, hyper-distraction, on and on. This spiraling is and has the effect of what Girard calls a crisis of desire (compulsive, preoccupation of the other).
So trying to peek my head out from within this spiraling vortex, I can barely make out a problem; how to get my arms around such a profound concept when I want only the simplified version of our Christian faith because I am caught up inside the spiraling vortex of keeping up with everyone else. (Is this what they call a crisis of priorities?) Am I the only one in this vortex?
So I ask, are we 'doing' ourselves any favors by dumbing ourselves down by stretching ourselves so thin on a steady diet of constantly 'doing'? And what is this 'doing' for us? Or better yet, does not this 'doing' originate from our desire, that is our compulsive, preoccupation of the other? Wouldn't we be wise to re-orient our desire - in other words, wouldn't we be better off abiding in the One True Source instead of being tossed to and fro for all our 'doing'?
Possibly this dumbing down is part and parcel to the dying of the old foundation of knowledge that is being destroyed by the revelation of the Gospel. But as this occurs, and all foundations crumble, including our psychological grounding, the problem is that we need to be about the business of the Gospel, as told by the Sermon on the Mount.
The following is but a very short excerpt from The Gift of Self by Gil Bailie as he reflects on a quote by de Lubac.
"There is no unique subject: no personality without otherness; no consciousness turned in upon itself; no real being without intersubjectivity; no real knowledge nor ontological density without mystery. And no man without God." - Henri de Lubac
For us studying these thoughts as we are: No real knowledge without mystery or better yet: no real knowledge without genuine transcendence. The old logos, the old religions which gemmed up their gods out of the sacrificial scenario and created a false transcendence (like I said before suddenly instead of being preoccupied with each other and then there is this crisis and then ... they are preoccupied with the gods). This is not what de Lubac is talking about. When he talks about mystery, he is talking about Real Transcendence. Just because the world is filled with false ones does not mean there isn’t a Real One. It just means we are hungry for it and we will fall for anything that simulates it. ...
Real knowledge requires transcendence now, because the other kind of knowledge was based on a false transcendence or else it has no transcendence at all and then it becomes mechanical. Enlightenment knowledge is basically mechanical knowledge, it appeals to no transcendence and therefore can work in a mundane order of things, but it cannot deal with the fundamental problem, which is our fallenness. We can take Enlightenment knowledge and crank it up as much as we can and it will create all kinds of breakthroughs, many advances in medicine and technologies, etc., etc., but it won’t do a thing about the fall because it has renounced any aspiration in that regard. But the knowledge that has something to do with the fall is going to be transcendence and it is going to require that we abide.
We fast-forward to the modern world where we increasingly say, ‘I cannot abide’ him or her, leaving more and more of us scandalized by the compulsive preoccupation with the other...
This has been a long way around to say that I invite everyone to the Emmaus Road Initiative (E.R.I.) of Gil Bailie and the Cornerstone Forum. I have found it to be a rock solid tool for reflection mixed with the Gospel and prayer - a tool right for Catholics to reclaim their spirituality and cultural distinction as well as this helps to build up the Church (you know that we Franciscans are into that). Check the times and places for the next E.R.I. near you and go to the website for E.R.I. sessions via CDs and audio files to discuss the material with others, enriching the experience and helping to pass on the faith.
Remember, "the unity for which Christ lived and died is not an abstract ideal. It is the result of hard work: suspending judgment, choosing others before self, forgiving, seeking reconciliation rather than nursing hurt pride. In other words, it requires that we die to self in Christ. The fruit? The blessing of God's peace!" -- Magnificat July 17, 2007