Skip to main content

A Nation of Heretics Pt. 3: Church in Decline

In my previous post I spoke about the glorious hey day of Christianity in the 1950's.  In this post I will list Ross Douthat's 5 principal causes why Christianity began to fall apart in the 1960's and 70's:

1) Political Polarization.  During most of our country's history religion played a healthy counterbalance to both political extremes, right and left.  A great example of this was the civil rights movement which was begun by ministers and priests not politicians.  However, in the 1960's this balance was disrupted mainly by the Vietnam war, but also because of other contributing factors.  With this divide Christians were forced to choose between progressivism (democrat) vs. conservatism (republican.) This divide continues to this very day.

2) The Sexual Revolution. In the 1960's the birth control pill was developed and manufactured for general use.  Now people who considered themselves loyal to Christian teaching all of a sudden found themselves at odds with their personal morals. Compounding this matter even further was Pope Paul VI's provocative encyclical, Humanae Vitae which reaffirmed Catholicism's traditional teaching on procreation.   Thrown into this mix was the new counter culture which challenged mainstream American views on adultery and homosexuality.

3) America began developing a more global perspective.  Innocuous on the surface, this compassionate shift was seen as the healthy outgrowth of a more tolerant society.  But the problem with this new perspective was that it began to also change the way people viewed Christianity.  Suddenly it was cooler to become a Buddhist then a Methodist, to learn new forms of prayer such as transcendental meditation instead of the "Our Father" or to follow "gurus" instead of ministers or priests.

4) The Spread of the term "Judeo-Christianity."  Originally this term was viewed favorably as an indication of the unity shared by both faiths in the founding of this country.  Conversely in the 1960's and 70's this led to wide scale propagandizing against Christians in their treatment of Jews throughout history.  All of this propagandizing led to such wild claims as calling Pope Pius XII "Hitler's Pope."  The goal of all of this was to make society believe that Christianity was bad and that society needed a new belief system or "an new age of Aquarius." to replace antiquated views.

5) America's Wealth.  John Wesley once famously declared, "wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion."  American saw unprecedented economic growth after World War II.  The result of this being that more and more people began living in suburbs instead of urban areas.  For years the bedrock of the Catholic faith was the dependable upswing of immigrants building and attending churches in urban areas.  Another consequence of this was that fewer and fewer men and women were entering seminaries and going into careers which were more lucrative.

I realize that this list isn't exhaustive, but I believe it does begin to shed some light on the contributing factors of Christianity's decline in the 1960's and 70's. 


Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was a notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is a famous scene in the Bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident, Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments, I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob, I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He, in fact, encouraged this honest…