death spiral

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 10, 2006

Remember the old saw about swatting the ox between the eyes with a two-by-four "to get its attention"? In an LA Times op-ed, Beliefnet's Charlotte Allen takes the timber to liberal Christianity, the progressivist congregations Mark Steyn collectively calls the Church of the Flavoured Condom:

When your religion says "whatever" on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it's a short step to deciding that one of the things you don't want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church.

So why are progressive churches in decline? Because, they insist, they're hindered from becoming as progressive as all God's chilluns want them to be. Allen's not buying:

So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better get with the liberal program -- ordain women, bless gay unions and so forth -- or die. Sure.

The sardonic congratulation offered by atheist H.L. Mencken in the 1920s rings truer than ever: "The great achievement of liberal Protestantism was to make God boring."

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 11, 2006 3:23 PM ET USA

    We can only pray that Martin Luther is in the purgatory that he so vehemently denied exists. Either way, he needs no other hell that to watch what his heresy has wrought.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 11, 2006 1:28 PM ET USA

    "how does this comport with optimism that many may convert to Catholicism? . . . our loudly-dissident and quietly-faithful US Bishops have convinced the public that we are just as liberal " There are already some 200,000 adults officially joining the Church in the U.S. every year. Many, according to Scott Hahn and other converts, do so fully aware of errors of many church members (including leaders), but recognizing that the Catholic church is uniquely more than the sum of its congregants.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 11, 2006 10:28 AM ET USA

    When churches make belief ridiculously easy and arbitrary; the followers must keep wanting things to be easier and less doctrinaire. God is not boring; liberals make religion boring!

  • Posted by: SentimentalGent - Jul. 11, 2006 5:37 AM ET USA

    Maybe the Catholic Church should switch gears in its ecumenical dialogue process and focus on the evangelicals and fundamentalist churches, since they, in addition to the Orthodox, may be the only Christian churches to be in existence in 50 years along with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Rome. It's interesting to think about what the founders of those mainline Protestant denominations are thinking about their progeny and the fruits of their own schisms.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 11, 2006 4:24 AM ET USA

    Allen suggests Episcopalian / Presbyterian numbers are falling, even with influx of disaffected Catholics, to the benefit of other protestant denominations. So, how does this comport with optimism that many may convert to Catholicism? Answer: it doesn't. Irrespective of official Church teaching, our loudly-dissident and quietly-faithful US Bishops have convinced the public that we are just as liberal, it's just that old men in the Vatican won't permit the changes. We must preach against sin!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 10, 2006 8:55 PM ET USA

    Many of us are discouraged and depressed by the news of the machinations of men.We forget that God, in His boringness(praise His Holy Name), is the ultimate gentleman Who does not intrude where He is not wanted. As is stated with assertion in Scripture, He laughs at the plans of men. He has a sense of humor which most of us don't possess. Perhaps He considers Diogenes "blue humor" a refreshing relief to the ponderous self importance His creation affects.We take ourselves seriously. He does not.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 10, 2006 8:22 PM ET USA

    God is so incredibly boring. He concerns Himself with such little things in His creation. At Mass yesterday we prayed for rain to end the drought. There must have been at least one pure soul praying because we have straight down from the heavens with no wavering unforecasted rain...don't know about the situation in Dubuque. While men curry favor, power, and useless worldly treasure our boring God is still taking care of the things which support His much loved creation.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 10, 2006 4:47 PM ET USA

    By Mencken's own testimony, he was an agnostic.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jul. 10, 2006 3:18 PM ET USA

    Perhaps the most interesting thing about the excellent piece is that the LA Times found it newsworthy enough to be on the op ed page. For some of us (including, I suspect, most of the readers of OTR) it's as obvious as that the sun rises in the east.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 10, 2006 1:41 PM ET USA

    How can a church which preaches that "anything goes" expect to hold people who are in search of justification? Once they hear that what they are doing is all right, why bother to continue to attend? They no longer live in fear of condemnation. They need no one to tell them they may continue in their behavior patterns. No spiritual imperative to impede the self pleasuring.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 10, 2006 11:22 AM ET USA

    Mencken, whereever he is, will no doubt be heartened by the ecumenical progress that this great achievement has made throughout the Catholic Church, particularly in Los Angeles, home of the shark that jumped in a resplendent liturgical dance ensemble. Thank goodness Steyn didn't call it Church of the Dental Dam.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 10, 2006 10:47 AM ET USA

    Just to add a note, Diogenes, to this fine post: It could also be said that the great achievements of liberal politics are to try to make life stale, predictable and utterly boring.