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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Urban Catholic Confusion

The other day I had cause to drive through my old neighborhood in south Minneapolis, where I lived for about 3 years or so. The neighborhood is borderline "inner city", although I'm sure the sociologists and urbanologists and demographers refer to it as fully inner city.

It is a place where the gangs roll, the working class resides, and the young college grads get a start. It borders the hip Uptown area and during election time, both the blood of the residents and the signage on the lawns are blue as they come.

This is a place where the dissident Catholics reign supreme in their castle of the Church of St. Joan of Arc. This is where the yuppies meet the urban downfalled and get a social conscience, completely forgetting about their moral consciences.

While I lived there, I never heard anyone talk about God except to take his name in vain. I will admit I spoke to more than a few Baptists who exclaimed that God is good and thanks be to Jesus, and I found their faith to be an oasis in the desolation of the desert that is south Minneapolis.

Oh, sure, there were some good points to living there...I loved to run around Lake Nokomis, and blade around Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet (now a hotbed for armed robbery, car vandalisms and car thefts). Glad I'm not there now.

South Minneapolis is a place where every block, or several houses on a block display rainbow flags and you have to drive carefully on the unplowed, icy side streets between closely-parked cars in order to avoid hitting a vehicle displaying some sign of "Gay Pride" or some other New Age slogan.

This is where St. Joan of Arc parish resides, and overflows...and where other dissident parishes such as St. Stephen's and Annunciation bring in those who worship the ideals of the democratic party and forget the God created the very ground they walk on and the society that surrounds them. They declare themselves gods and choose what they want to believe on the basis of what's popular.

It was that sense of rebellion I held for quite awhile, this sense of "challeng me and I will trample you," that we are seeing from the social justice mongers, the gay-rights activists, and other dissidents.

I had forgotten about God, too, and about his will for me. When I lived there, I was one of them...an urban Catholic. I went to Mass when I wanted to go to Mass...and I went to communion, having bought into the idea that Jesus would want me to recieve him...won't that bring me closer? After all, I was a "good person", and my immoral decisions were not going to send me to Hell. It was OK for me to do what I was doing, live the way I was living, and I would be OK.

That's what I was fed in south Minneapolis. I was never a parishioner at SJA, but I did go there once and was shocked at what I saw. I tried all the parishes around me, and although I was a pariah myself, I learned that Urban Catholicism was a different religion than the one I grew up with.

Every parish I went to was all about the individual and what the individual wanted. The various parish ministries mimiced ACLU-backed programs which should have been financed by secular government, but instead were staffed by urban Catholics who refused to mention the name of Jesus for fear someone would be ticked off.

If they did mention Jesus, it was in disregard to what he actually taught.

I was struggling in my faith, and struggling to come back to the Church...and I was held back by this non-theology. I went to parishes such as St. Albert the Great which sported a Religious Education Director, a woman, who gave the "homilies", apparently by popular vote. Every time I went there I got a lession in social statistics. I felt like I was attending a seminar. No one knelt at the consecration. I wasn't ever sure what the consecration was, but I did know there was a space of time where people were supposed to kneel, and it was supposed to take place when the priest was at the alter with the bread and wine.

I had been away for so long, but I could not find home...I found Urban Catholicism. Religion by committee.

I learned the following about Urban Catholicism:

* It's not just dissident: it's a whole different religion
* It is built upon several pillars:
- social justice, which is the focus of every "gathering" (not Jesus, not the holy sacrifice of the Mass)
- homosexual activism-- it looks to activism as a guide in how to thwart the Magesterium and dis' the Pope.
- reinterpreting the Bible to fit current culture
- ask "what is Truth" without actually seeking the real answer, and rather, redefine "truth" according to the individual

And it's dangerous. Why?

It's not because of social justice. Many programs are good, heathly and beneficial programs. They are not inherently bad...but they have become the focus of the parish worship, taking the place of the worship of God. Those "ministries" which support abortion, homosexual activism, and the like...now THOSE are inherently evil. That's a different post, though.

Urban Catholicism is dangerous because people are seeking God and are not finding him. They are not finding him the the Church he founded but when they walk through the door they are greeted warmly and ushered over to a table where they can sign up for various ministries. Then they are hooked into something they don't understand...an organization that is not Catholic, but calls itself Catholic.

It is dangerous because questions go unanswered or are swatted away or they are told that ideas such as "sin" or "purgatory" and the like are "old theology" and "not relevant". Do what feels good! That's what God wants...for you to be happy!

There is no such thing as redemptive suffering.

These people come into this alternative religion, they are told that the Church they grew up with has been updated and everything they were ever taught is now obselete. They are taught that ever mortal sin is OK, no longer a sin, and they raise their children with this dubious lack of theology.

These are Urban Catholics. They are not really Catholic, they just call themselves so. There has been no formal break from the Church, just the passive-aggressive "in your face Rome" rebellion that not all believe they are carrying out.

So pray, everyone. Wherever you are, pray. I was lost and Jesus found me and brought me out of that wasteland. There are many others...and they don't even know they are lost.

Lost, but not forgotten, lost, unknowing pariahs, needing prayer, needing to understand the faith which has never been taught to them. Some, such as SJA and St. Stephen's, are in open rebellion, but others are just bumbling in confusion and theological desolation.

I know that this does not exist solely in south Minneapolis, so pray, all of you...pray that the lost may be found and the rebellious find need to come home.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here! Here!

Dont you just love how these parishes hide their agendas behind social justice. also how they put homosexuals and racism in the same group. Like a black man needs to repent of being black. One has nothing to do with the other! The difference is Homosexual acts take someone actively choosing to do that act. When are these people going to understand that the church does not hate the sinner, just the sin!!

Adoro Te Devote said...

I once had a friend (liberal non-Catholic, non religious in any way), who thought the whole "Love the sinner hate the sin" thing is a "cop out". I tried to explain it to her but I was not a very good authority on the subject. She didn't get it...in her mind, and in the minds of these people, they ARE their sin, they define themselves primarily by what they do behind closed doors and think that we all need to "see" them in this manner.

They cannot seperate personhood from their sexual acts.

Very sad.