Swallowing the culture

Swallowing the culture

Everybody’s talking about Joseph Bottum’s October First Things article called “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano: Catholic Culture in America.” In it, Bottum looks at the complete cultural collapse of the Church in America following the Second Vatican Council.

Both Amy Welborn and Rod Dreher, among others, have written about it. I have only just got around to reading the whole thing, so I’ll just jump in with some quick comments.

On the whole, I think the article is a good digest of the history of the upheaval in the Church in the US since 1960… and yet I don’t know that it’s a good diagnosis of the problem. First, I have to say that much of it is news to me. The problem with having been born in 1968 is that while I’ve lived through much of this time, I wasn’t aware of any of it, and those who are slightly older than me who did live through it don’t bother to talk about it because it’s not history, but memory.

Yet, that’s part of the problem. I don’t think most people who lived through that time, except for so-called professional Catholics of one stripe or another, have any better remembrance of these things. Sure, they may have heard about some of it on the news or read it in the newspaper. But their experience of the Church’s culture does not include doctrinal statements from the 1976 Call to Action conference or Vernica Luecken’s Bayside visions. No, their experiences include dissenting priests, loopy Masses, bad catechesis, and so on.

The loss of Friday abstinence

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  • Carrie, I don’t know what about my take on Bayside you’re disagreeing with. So you knew about it. Did most people? Did it have a discernible impact on their experience of the Church? No.

  • The real problem is that Friday abstinence was never abolished – but someone just SAID it was abolished and everyone believed them.

    I was hoping somebody would mention this. Thank you Michaelus.

    It really jars me when somebody pipes up with the myth: “But the Church changed Her mind about Fridays!”

    What a crock. Yet I’m betting most Catholics still believe in this myth.

    Folks. You’re not supposed to eat meat on Fridays! If that’s not enough of a penance for you (I know plenty of people who love seafood and hate meat) then you’re supposed to do some sort of penance…make some out of the ordinary sacrifice, or act of self-denial.

    Actually, the supposed “relaxation” of the abstainence rule, by all that is logical, should have the opposite effect. Refraining from meat is just the beginning. And, as I said, for some this is no penance at all!

    Every Friday is a “Good Friday.” The fact that people don’t realize this is hardly the fault of the Church.

    How do we accurately assess the problem and come up with a cure?

    Step 1: consider the planks in our own eyes?