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The Future Church by John Allen > Discussion #2: Trend 3 and Trend 4

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message 1: by Manny (last edited Feb 04, 2017 08:16AM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3569 comments Mod
Trend Three: Islam
The questions raised by Islam—the hopes it generates, as well as the fears it elicits—are destined to cut across a steadily expanding range of issues in the twenty-first century. In effect, Islam has replaced Judaism as the most important interfaith relationship for the Catholic Church, and Catholicism has become a lead actor in the global drama surrounding the so-called “clash of civilizations",,,Whether Christians and Muslims can meet one another in constructive cooperation, or whether their relationship is destined to be one of conflict and rivalry—and the reality seems likely to be a mixture of both—their interaction will be a major driver of world history in the twenty-first century.

Trend Four: The New Demography
The Population Division reports that over the period 1950–55, the global fertility rate averaged 5.02, well above replacement level. The rate has gone down in every subsequent five-year period, reaching 2.65 today, meaning that it’s been cut almost in half...Contrary to Malthus’s expectations, today’s transition cuts sharply in the opposite direction, toward enduring levels of lower fertility. An alternative, and more popular, name for what’s happening is “The New Demography.” Whatever we call it, it means that sometime in the twenty-first century the world will begin depopulating, a phenomenon that has already hit Western Europe and Japan.


message 2: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3569 comments Mod
I have to say that reading Trend 4, "The New Demography," I felt was aging as I was reading. The more I read, the older I got! LOL.


message 3: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments Not involved in interfaith dialogue at any level, trend three felt more theoretical than the first two trends for me. The types of questions and possible implications were all in areanas that I have no personal experience of or contact with.

I will read trend 4 today.


message 4: by Galicius (last edited Feb 05, 2017 04:18PM) (new)

Galicius | 438 comments Trend Three: Islam
This is a chapter that I found disturbing. That is the mildest word I can use. There were so many current events since the publication that update what’s covered in this chapter that add to this state of affairs between Islam and Christianity. Denouncing bombings of Catholic churches in Moslem occupied lands, ritual offerings of Christians by spilling their blood—there is nothing like it in Christianity--and discussing future cooperation over tea and cookies does little to build bridges over which you could “walk over”, as Pope Benedict XVI said, between the Catholic religion and Mohammedan heresies. Allen does not mention the issue when the Saudis were building the Rome mosque they tried to have their minaret top the dome St. Peter’s basilica. They had to agree to have it one meter smaller. Why do the governments and the Church allow the building of mosques with Saudi money in Europe--this is happening in France right now--while it’s illegal for hired Christian laborers to practice their faith in their kingdom? The Saudis have a need for labor workers and bring in Christians but do not allow them any worship in their country. What kind of cooperation is it?

(I rewrote this paragraph three times to tone down my indignation--I already mentioned in this forum a local issue of a mosque that replaced a Catholic high school in NY.)


message 5: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments I found the fourth trend very challenging. I work on a parish level and much of what was written here is directly applicable. Our enrollment in religious education ministry is half what it was a decade ago. Our local high school has been graduating some of the smallest classes in a generation. And, yet we are one of the youngest parishes in our vicariate. Most of the parishes around us have several funerals a week while we have one a month. Our resources and our conversation is still focused on youth, attracting them, engaging them, supporting them. Innovations are in the area of young adult ministry, both single and young parents. Maybe we should be talking more about ministry to seniors. Wehave had several speaker programs that address issues around the aging process. We have tried to run some programs in the morning for those who are not comfortable driving at night. We do have a pastoral minister, a lay woman, who does outreach to shut-ins and widows and others who are older. There is a monthly lunch for older folks living alone, a grief support group that predominantly attracks widows over the age of 60, several small Christian communities that meet during the day which is populated by senior citizens and a Centering Prayer group that meets during the day. But, this chapter made me wonder what more we could be/should be doing now to be ready to support an aging church.


message 6: by Galicius (last edited Feb 07, 2017 07:59AM) (new)

Galicius | 438 comments Irene wrote: "I found the fourth trend very challenging. I work on a parish level and much of what was written here is directly applicable. Our enrollment in religious education ministry is half what it was a de..."

Your are more to the point than my concern with issues discussed in Trend Three that I can do little about. You are dealing with matters at hand in your home parish. I am too tied to keeping up with events in the world--Europe perhaps more than anywhere else—watching it gradually commit a cultural and religious suicide.

I fully empathize with your consternation over the demographics in your area. Our parish does not have a school. The religious education is done by laity in the form of Sunday 10:00 am mass. At the start of the mass the children-about 15-20 are blessed by the celebrant and ushered by their female teacher to an adjoining room for their First Communion preparation. They come back to the church after the homily. It’s a lot different than years ago when only the religious—nuns and priests--prepared us for First Communion, and Confirmation. Times have changed. The priest who prepared me for Confirmation later left priesthood and “married” one of his students. An auxiliary bishop who confirmed our daughter was shortly after relieved of his duties for having a long standing relationship. It is no wonder when young people see such issues—along with others that the media is so happy to play up— drift away from the Church once they leave home. It’s difficult to convince them that it’s not these headlines or the behavior of some persons that matter but that there is deeper truth to our journey.


message 7: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments I think there are lots of complicated reasons why those under the age of 40 or so seem disconnected to organized religion or only lightly connected. The contrast between the values we claim and the headlines of actions that violate those values are one piece. A move away from valuing external sources of truth is another. These generations do not see any good in creeds and institutional teachings. They freely pick and choose from a variety of sources to compile a plate that fits them at this particular moment. They seem to regard adherence to an external set of dogmas as either personally irresponsible or silly nonsense. They are more individualistic. A stable community is less important, whether that be a biological family or faith community. Rather, they seem to want a fluid community which they can move into and out of as it fits their shifting needs and interests. Mortality is not on their minds as it was for earlier generations for whom everything from child birth to an accident to an infectious disease could take the life of the young. I think this has caused attention to move away from ultimate questions to more prosaic concerns. How do I provide the opportunities for my child to get into the best schools and have the best health? how do I ensure that I enjoy life and progress professionally? And, we have fostered a culture of inclusion, tolerance, self-esteem, etc. In most religious circles, we have moved the conversation away from eternal damnation to eternal mercy. We want the faithful to develop a mature spirituality, to move beyond motivations of fear of God to motivations of love of God. In mature relationships, love is a much better motivator than fear. But, that shift has its dangers; it means a loss of control by the authority. And, in the case of spirituality, it has caused many to take God and God's providential care for granted. God will love me because I am infinitely deserving of love and because God's own nature is to love. Nothing more is expected of me in this relationship. Atheism and scientific rationality is acceptable today in a way it was not earlier. Although there are plenty of people who clainm to believe in God, but do not engage fully in the Church, there are also a growing number of young people who do not believe in any religious precepts. This is certainly not exhaustive, but it is part of the bredth of the forces at work.


message 8: by P (last edited Feb 08, 2017 11:56AM) (new)

P (patrickdugan) | 12 comments My comment is anecdotal about the New Demography. I recently turned 27, and my typical weekly routine includes Sunday Mass at 10am, Tuesday evening at 6, and bi-weekly on Sundays I sometimes attend at a friend's invitation a heretical womanpriest, er, "mass," at our local interfaith center. Only the Sunday morning Mass is remotely well-attended by folks of my generation, and the majority of those are as couples.

I have always dreaded having to talk theology, or religion in general, with people who have no sympathy for it. A few people I know went out of their way this week to comment on the sexual abuse report published in Australia, seemingly out of nowhere, apparently solely because I'm Catholic.


message 9: by P (last edited Feb 08, 2017 12:29PM) (new)

P (patrickdugan) | 12 comments This was an interesting, if extraneous (to me, anyway), comment by Allen: "Ironically, it turns out Marx may have been right all along when he predicted that capitalism would sow the seeds of its own decline, though not exactly for the reasons he thought" (147).

I think it's also relevant and important to mention with regard to the New Demography the developments in the U.S. over the past couple of weeks with immigration. This isn't meant to be excessively political, as the USCCB itself summarily condemned the White House's executive orders. Allen writes, "The last year in which white, non-Hispanic American women had enough children to replace themselves was 1971.... Hispanics in the United States have a median age of 27.... The median age for whites is almost 40.... American population growth will also be fueled by immigration, again with Hispanics making the largest contribution."

Almost 2/3 of Hispanics in America are Catholic, and the "retention rate" for Latinx youth is a staggering 70%.

Of course, on the other hand, the White House's current Chief Strategist has publicly suggested that the reason the American Church supports immigration and sanctuary is not theological but rather purely practical, because white Catholics are dying and Hispanics are its only hope.

Thoughts?


message 10: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3569 comments Mod
As to trend three, like Galcius I've already written else where on Catholic Thought how our church leaders see Islam through rose colored glasses. And John Allen is also equally optimistic about Islam and Christianity.

But based on what was written in Trend Three, I do want to qualify my prognostication with Islam. My pessimism applies to Sunni Muslims. I understood some of the differences of Shia Muslims, but I did not realize how different. I am not so pessimistic now concerning Shia Muslims, despite Shia dominated Iran being a nation that supports terrorism and is a world problem. Two reasons I am more optimistic on Shia Muslims. (1) I am very surprised at how much of an overlap they have with Christianity in a lot of different ways as John Allen points out. There's a common basis for real understanding there. (2) And perhaps more important is that there is a "church" structure to Shia Islam. Like Catholicism they have an educated clergy that interprets their religious documents and puts forth an approved reading of the texts. The clergy can stipulate passages as metaphor and alter the understanding of the literal.

Now with Sunni Islam, there is no such "church" structure. Everyone interprets the Koran as they personally read it, and when you come to a passage that could have ambiguity, the literal understanding will always win over the metaphoric. And the literal understanding of many passages in the Koran and elsewhere are quite horrifying. An analogy is with our Evangelical brothers and sisters who quite literally believe that the earth is 5000+ years old and that evolution never occurred. Koranic passages are not so innocuous. They require the subjugation of non-Muslims, and if you take it literally you get ISIS and the other terrorists. This is why I am so pessimistic about ever achieving peace with Sunni Muslims. They are following the Koran and the words in the Koran can never be changed.

By the way, there has been a remarkable conversion of a good number of Shia Muslims lately. You can Google it but here are two articles:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/ira...
and
http://www.charismanews.com/world/437...


message 11: by P (last edited Feb 08, 2017 12:47PM) (new)

P (patrickdugan) | 12 comments Manny wrote: "Now with Sunni Islam, there is no such "church" structure. Everyone interprets the Koran as they personally read it, and when you come to a passage that could have ambiguity, the literal understanding will always win over the metaphoric. And the literal understanding of many passages in the Koran and elsewhere are quite horrifying. An analogy is with our Evangelical brothers and sisters."

So Shia Islam : Catholicism :: Sunni Islam : the Reformed tradition.

That's clever!

Is it in the Islam chapter or elsewhere that Allen says something to the effect that many in the global South convert to Catholicism because it seems the rational alternative when compared to fundamentalist Islam and Pentecostalism? Such a different way of thinking about it than many of are used to in our secular culture!


message 12: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3569 comments Mod
P wrote: "
So Shia Islam : Catholicism :: Sunni Islam : the Reformed tradition.

That's clever!.."


Thanks, I've seen that comparison somewhere and I thought John Allen made it himself, though I've been reading so fast to keep up that I don't know what comes from his book and what comes from elsewhere.

As to Islam, I just read a confessional autobio called The Imam's Daughter by a Muslim girl whose family were immigrants from Pakistan to England. Her story describes the abuse she lived under by her abusive father, who is an Imam, and how she broke free to find Christianity and a loving God. Read my Goodreads review. I bought this book on a whim, since it was a Kindle sale for either 99 cents or $1.99, I can't remember. It's not the type of book I typically read but my intuition pronged me to buy it and I'm so glad I did. Even at the price of $5.99 now it's still worth it. I read it in five days, which is super fast for me, and I read it while trying to keep up with our current reading schedule. I couldn't put it down.


message 13: by P (last edited Feb 10, 2017 08:20AM) (new)

P (patrickdugan) | 12 comments Manny wrote:
"It's not the type of book I typically read but my intuition pronged me to buy it and I'm so glad I did."


Sounds to me as if the Holy Spirit guided you!

Does the author provide insight into the question of whether Islam is reformable or not? Just do a quick Google search and you'll see how popular this question is. Allen brings our attention (p. 110) to one Fr. Daniel Madigan, who argues that Islam has already been reformed, and requires a Counter-Reformation; it needs a Council of Trent. I've never heard or read a Muslim argue along these lines (admittedly, I don't read much about Islam).


message 14: by Manny (last edited Feb 10, 2017 08:35AM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3569 comments Mod
P wrote: "Manny wrote:
"It's not the type of book I typically read but my intuition pronged me to buy it and I'm so glad I did."

Sounds to me as if the Holy Spirit guided you!

Does the author provide insight into the question of whether Islam is reformable or not? ."


No, she doesn't get into that. At the end, after she reads the Koran in English where she learns what is really in it rather than how her community practices it she sort of half excuses it. She finds offsetting passages in the Koran to those used to justify her situation. But she doesn't get into the theology in great detail. The Koran is not the only scripture for Islam. There is the Hadith (which are dictates from Mohammed) and Sharia which is their religious law. She never discusses any of that. There are ambiguities in all those writings and from what I understand there are ways to prioritize the ambiguities. This is why a church structure would be so advantageous.

What's remarkable is how little most Muslims actually know of what's actually written. As the author describes, most Muslims only know of their religion from what is told to them, most Imams, like her father, are not exactly well educated, and what they are taught to memorize is strictly in Arabic, the language of the Koran, and to most Muslims Arabic is a foreign language since they come from disparate parts of the world.


message 15: by Galicius (new)

Galicius | 438 comments I don’t have any great faith in the Shiites coming to rapport with Christianity. Things got much worse in Iran after the Ayatollah went back and Islamists started to force headdress back on their female citizens over many protests. Burqas may yet be next. Christianity has as much chance for progress in Iran as the whirling dervishes. I also wondered why our government has supported the Sunni government, 911 notwithstanding, over the other.


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