Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"The art of living, as taught by Christ"

A local Catholic center (once a high school, now a "Catholic Center for Evangelization") makes the claim that "Atheists, agnostics, and believers alike must consider the question of God’s existence," and further that "this is precisely why everyone has a place and a home" there.

Here's more about "The Mission":
For those who consider religion non-essential in their lives, we hope to begin friendly conversations.

For those who do not believe in God, we hope to share the beauty that abounds within these walls and in the hearts of all who call St. Paul Inside the Walls, “home”.

For those who doubt and may have drifted from the Church, we hope to listen attentively to their thoughts and experiences.

For those who practice the Catholic faith, we hope to deepen their identities in Christ by reflecting upon beauty, truth, and goodness and by providing them with the language of discipleship.

Within these walls, we are forging new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and conditions of our days. The methods and expressions employed allow the question of God to be placed in context through our sharing of personal experiences in seeking God.

Arising from the truth that all peoples must consider the question of God is the possibility that all, also, can find greater joy and hope. Everyone is welcome at St. Paul Inside the Walls, for the art of living, as taught by Christ, is the only means of possessing such true joy and everlasting hope.

Is it just me, or is this way of thinking not of an entirely different order than what generally gets discussed when considering this topic?    Aren't we getting the cart before the horse when worrying about "attracting young people" (for instance)?  I realize the "youth issue" is a problem for the Episcopal Church in particular - but doesn't that in itself say something about how we approach the thing? 

Isn't it better to acknowledge and consider the entire world and its questions and issues?  Isn't it better to simply state that all human beings "must consider the question of God’s existence"?  Doesn't it make more sense to put the question that way, as if it were actually a question worth considering and thinking and talking about?  And as if there were actually one kind of person - the human kind - we who all have at base the same questions, feelings, desires, and experiences?  (Not to keep harping on the issue, but A.A.'s Step 2 looks at the question in the same way, considering it from all points of view.  That's because A.A. wants to speak to every alcoholic, because every alcoholic is in mortal danger.)

Doesn't it strike you that putting this question first - and flatly stating that "all people must consider it" - demonstrates a calm confidence in both the human beings involved and in the discussion (and whatever answers may come of it) itself?  And wouldn't it be good to talk about "beauty, truth, and goodness" - as if they belonged together as one thought?

We continue to worry about "falling market share," when what we ought to be considering is the whole world and all its people - and what Christianity is for, and what questions it answers.   Why ignore "the question of God's existence," or shrug it off, as if it weren't a live issue?   Catholics can invite people to consider this question, because they can easily draw from their own massive intellectual (and spiritual) tradition - and show how "the art of living, as taught by Christ" can help people "possess true joy and everlasting hope."

In other words:  they have a program.

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