Monday, August 22, 2005


Pope warns against `do-it-yourself' religion

COLOGNE, Germany - Young people should beware "do-it-yourself" religion, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday to an estimated 1 million Roman Catholics attending World Youth Day ...

... The pope on Sunday said that "there is a strange forgetfulness of God in many parts of the world. But there is also frustration," and this dissatisfaction has led to "a new boom of religion."

"I have no wish to discredit all the manifestations of this phenomenon," he said. "There may be sincere joy in the discovery. But if it is pushed too far, religion becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it. But religion constructed on a `do-it-yourself' basis cannot ultimately help us. Help people to discover the true star which points out the way to us: Jesus Christ."

Michael LaRocco, 16, who attended the Mass with classmates from St. Peter's Prep School in Jersey City, N.J., said he was awed by the experience of being surrounded by a million others sharing the same faith.

"Back home, we hear that nobody goes to church anymore, nobody believes," he said. "This kind of shows that's a lie. A million people, traveling from around the world, camping out in a cold, wet field, just for the chance to share in this experience. It's clear, we're all here because we believe."

Yes! I know from personal experience that sometimes on a secular college campus it can seem as though no one is seriously interested in the "big questions," philosophy, or religion. Especially religion. But it would be provincial to think that this intellectually and spiritually light-weight culture is the norm for humanity. If you look around the globe at the spread of democracy, the rise and fall of Marxist regimes, etc., philosophy matters. And the vast majority of the world is highly religious, whether the religion in question is Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or other faiths. It's just a tiny corner of the globe - Western Europe and some (shrinking) parts of the United States - where religion does not play a major role in people's lives and the public square. Lots of people think devout Christians or Muslims or Orthodox Jews are "weird;" however, in terms of raw numbers, it's the non-religious folks who are the oddballs ;)

I also appreciate the Holy Father's comments on DIY religion. This has a lot to do with the rise of the "self-improvement" trend, which seems to be seeping into Christianity. I know that some people criticize Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life" on that score. Not having read it, I can't speak to whether the book has problems or whether it's beneficial ... There is always that danger, however: that "proclaiming the Gospel" turns into selling a product like prescription drugs or diet plans - a "fad" that explodes on the scene and then fades away, leaving no positive progress behind except lining some preacher's pockets.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting article! Laura Ingraham had a great segment this morning on this- esp on how coverage is scewed to make it look like there are less people there, and that most of them don't agree with the church.

    :rolls eyes:

    Silly liberal press, will they never stop?