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America's churches are dying

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Bob Cook, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I'm sure the priests' love for young boys hasn't helped either.
  2. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, true, even though that controversy seems to have died down.
  3. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    See, I'm just embarrassed for the people involved when I've been to one of the "new school" church services. It reminds me of when characters on TV shows were in bands (I'm thinking of the Zack Attack here) and would sing those terrible, upbeat songs, and I would just be mortified. Give me an old-school service any day. Otherwise, for me, it just doesn't feel right.

    Obviously, this is very much a "to each his own" situation. I'm betting a lot more people my age agree with exmediahack. It's just not for me.
  4. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    In many ways, it's the other way around -- the growth in the Third World has made the Catholic church more conservative, and that spills over to the U.S. and Europe. I remember reading something in the Atlantic a while back about that, including some surmising that it may not be long before the next Pope is from, say, Nigeria.

    Living in a community that's overwhelmingly Catholic, I've also noticed a very rapid loosening of the grip the church has had on daily life, and which kept it (and other churches) thriving. It used to be any Catholic family around me (southwest burbs of Chicago) wouldn't dream of sending their children anywhere but a Catholic school. Now it's gotten so expensive, a lot of families just can't swing it anymore. At my wife's old high school (Mother McAuley), something like 70% of students are getting financial assistance -- and why not, with the $10,000-a-year pricetag. With families not enrolling their kids in school, they're taking the first, radical step (at least around here it's radical) of reconsidering their whole affiliation with the Catholic church. That's how it started for my wife, who grew up in your prototypical South Side Irish Catholic family.

    My church, which is United Church of Christ, probably has more than half of its membership made up of ex-Catholics. More often, though, people just leave the church -- as anyone does with any church -- entirely, rather than look for another denomination.

    Interesting, too, with the megachurches, is that even though those vacuum up a lot of Catholics and oldline Protestants, many times they don't have staying power beyond the pastor who founded the place.
    A notable recent example: Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/30/local/la-me-crystal-cathedral30-2010jan30

    The problem is that often megachurches are full of spectators, so once the main part of the show (the preachers) is gone, they're off to the next thing. It's been very hard to make a megachurch sustainable for the long, long run.
  5. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    I will only note that this Sunday, my wife took me on a tour of her old Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, and the (beautiful) parish church of a parish that went from white immigrant middle-class to burnt out war zone in the 1980s and now appears to be ethnically and racially-mixed working class was packed for the English-language mass. It's an anecdote, not data, but there was a church still going strong.
  6. dieditor

    dieditor Member

    I'm with you. Maybe it's my own personal hangups, but those types of services make me feel very uncomfortable.
  7. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    Also an anecdote, not data, but the Catholic church I attend in my college town -- the one that specifically serves the three universities here -- is packed for its masses.

    There are three well-attended Catholic parishes within two miles of one another where I live (including the parish within walking distance of my house that I don't like).

    On the other hand, a parish from a neighborhood that has fallen into urban prairie territory just closed. Sometimes, church attendance has as much to do with demographics as anything else, especially for old-line denominations.

    Traditionally in heavily Catholic areas, parishes were founded by the ethnic group that settled that particular neighborhood. My mom's hometown -- population 8,000 -- had two large Catholic parishes, one with a German heritage, one with an Irish heritage.

    With those ethnic lines having faded or morphed in the last 100 years, there's a lot of parish redundancy in high-density areas that no longer serves its original purpose. Thus, you have a lot of churches that hang on, but whose original parishioners have assimilated into the population.

    And not all Catholic parishes are on board with the conservative streak coming from Rome. I've found that there's "cafeteria churches" as well as "cafeteria Catholics".

    My church is one of them. Its pretty hardcore on abortion, but it is liberal in other ways that would make Pope Benedict pee his pants.

    Then again, my sister, who's had nothing but negative experiences with the Catholic church in adulthood, has never "found" the kind of parish I have had the good fortune to in my adult years. She bailed on the church about six years ago.

    And count me in the old school service group. Catholic masses are about as old school as it gets, but I hate any nod to contemporizing it, especially holding other people's fucking hands during the Our Father.
  8. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    I come from an Eastern Rite (Byzantine) Catholic tradition (before I swore off religion few years ago). If you want old school, that was where it was at. A lot of the ceremonial traditions of the liturgy were things fresh out of the middle ages. When the church went all out, the beauty of the service would be without rival. Gold. Incense. Tons of candles. Pitch perfect choirs. The calls to Constantinople. Very moving stuff in a sense.

    When it wasn't playing all the pomp and circumstance up, the services were efficient. They were fast (usually 25 minutes or less) exercises of repetitive chants. A lot of times there would be no sermon, but I suppose the tradition centered more on a strange form of meditation and reflection than seeking advice from the priest. People did like that though.

    I'm not a part of the church anymore, but from what I heard a Russian priest has taken over. He's hard to understand, rambles on too much and is very unethical (and borderline criminal) in the way he handles money. Church attendance has hence plummeted.
  9. HackyMcHack

    HackyMcHack Member

    After plugging in with a very large contemporary Methodist church while living in another city, I plugged in with a traditional -- but highly successful -- PCA (conservative Presbyterian) church when I took my current gig. The common thread? The two churches in question both have ministries to young professional adults, and in turn that has brought the next generation into the church. The bad news is that most churches don't do that, and in turn that has caused church membership to dwindle.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I'm Jewish, and to me, one of the reasons attendance in my Reform synagogue is down is simply, the services are too damn long.

    Friday night services go anywheres from 2 1/2 to past 3 hours. Kids don't want to sit still for that long, and they've even provided small toys at the back for the young ones to keep them occupied. Not to mention, the rabbi will skip a few passages of the service, but rambles in the sermon for anywheres from 20 minutes to half an hour. Even the cantor has confided to us that he thinks the service is too long for today's bunch.

    Meanwhile kids get bored very quickly, and look at going to synagogue as some sort of chore.

    I remember visiting a friend, and going to her church one Sunday (I don't remember what denomination). The church service was done in 45 minutes, and included a small skit with two people. I was shocked that the service was that short.
  11. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    The LDS Church keeps growing.
  12. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Allowing for multiple ports to park the car is a central selling point.
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