Posted Comment: “Many young people I know are practical atheists, God and the Church aren’t even on their radar.”
Practical atheists? Yes. Not on their radar? I disagree. I think that God and the Church are very much on young people’s radar. The problem is that there are so few opportunities to actually discuss God and the Church in our society which continues to become more secular.
Most young people are at least aware that there may be a God and are also aware that the Church has much to say about the fact that there may be a God. Not only that, but our everyday lives remind us of this possibility. Birth, death, sadness, sexuality, science, love, loneliness…all these experiences are opportunities for us to explore the possibility of God and the viewpoint of the Church. Sadly, we often push through that sense of inquiry because it’s not effective and won’t help us pay the rent.
Do you want to explore the questions you have about God and the Church? The Office of Young Adult Ministry will be hosting three Conversations at Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Streets NW in April and May. The format for the evening is pure Q&A, and we will have two panelists who will discuss whatever questions the audience. The three topics for this spring are science and faith, sex and contraception, and the GLBTQ community.
“[Young adults] said that they need a forum not only where misgivings and doubts can be expressed but also where the teachings of the Church can be clearly articulated in response…much of what young adults feel regarding the institutional Church arises from a misunderstanding of what the Church actually teaches.”
-Sons and Daughters of the Light, USCCB
Join us for this unique opportunity!
For complete information on Conversations, visit our News and Events page. This event is open to the public.
2 Replies to “Conversations on Atheism”
I don’t think that the youth are atheists I believe that as a community we keep the youth away and they just don’t know enough about God to understand who he is and what he has done for us. We as a society have gotten lazy and make assumptions that its someone else’s job to educate the youth. There is no longer a sense of a village helping to raise a child. We are quick to judge youth, but how many of us welcome them or correct them?
I am a young person, and I teach young people. What I find interesting is that despite their inherent reaction to religious practice (it’s boring, it doesn’t appeal, it’s archaic), there is not a similar reaction to questions of meaning, destiny, and human experience. When religious practice is understood as method to verify whether the Christian claim offers something fulfilling to these basic human questions, it no longer seems alienating to them.
Unfortunately, most religious education isn’t very Christian. Instead of proposing Jesus of Nazareth as the response to an individual’s human need and the fulfillment of the human person, he is proposed as a moralistic guide, a theologically interesting problem, an emotional experience, or historically coincidental model of modern ideology. Practically, on the religious spectrum within Catholicism, this brings about the idea that Christianity is about either moral perfection or volunteerism, either an esoteric unitarian deity or a doctrinally rigid logic exercise, either a retreated feel-good emotional high or a warm fuzzy when you do something good, and finally either a reactionary to modern sensibilities or a political radical with egalitarian ideals.
One of the challenges that I see facing the church in the modern culture is the capacity to speak about Christ as a response to the intrinsic needs of the human heart (justice, love, truth, beauty). Speaking for myself, but also aware of what I see in my own students, the only attractive claim is that Christianity in its original impetus is the audacious claim that a relationship could be lived with the meaning of reality Himself in the community of believers who belonged to Jesus of Nazareth. That this relationship was both satisfying and erupted an ever deepening thirst in front of all of life. That this claim was totalizing and attractive is not because it was true (although that is essential) but because it was useful, in the sense that life could be lived better this way.
Unfortunately, in the typical parish, and even among the more interesting proposals I’ve seen made by the diocese, this attractiveness is always lacking.
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