Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Faith in the Global Market Place of a PostModern World

Good friend Ryan passed on a tip about an interesting article that appeared in yesterday's Oakland Tribune. "US faith market proving volatile" It points to what another friend and I were discussing yesterday, talking about the ways in which the Presbyterian Church (USA) is failing to really face the challenges before us. Instead of acknowledging the rapid paced growth, radically transformed desires, and technologically uber-enhanced emerging forms of communication, we seem to focus on polarizing cries regarding doctrine & dogma to rally the troups around the flag-pole in order to fight with, or against, our brothers and sisters. OK - so maybe I come across as a modernist liberal. Yet I'm not really. I think it's more about being a present participant in the emerging semi-worldwide - postmodern worldview and experience.

Here's an excerpt that I found poignant:
The survey found Americans freely changing their religious identities. Forty-four percent of American adults have left the religions or denominations in which they were raised. Some have found new faiths, some remain religious but have no affiliation, and some have abandoned religious belief as well as practice.

People who believe without belonging have become one of the largest groups in the religious landscape. More than 16 percent of Americans say they are religious, but don't identify with any particular faith group....

"One thing this study shows for me is that people are starting to see religion in a marketplace framework," said Jim Donahue, president of Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union.

"Once you see it as a marketplace, market principles apply. People are shopping around. It underscores America as a voluntaristic society."

The shift among faiths is the most brisk among those younger than 30, who are more likely to change affiliation across faith traditions compared to older believers."

We seem to be a church, at least in the PC(USA), that remains committed - or stuck - in our ways of doing leadership, discernment, and decision-making. We look to those that are established, experienced, and thus necessarily with vested-interests in preserving the familiar forms of institutions in order to ensure pensions, etc. Makes me think of the primary battle between Hillary and Obama, which has been cast as a choice between experience and hope/change. If you've read monteskewed before you'll know that I support Obama because of something he said, "We want to change the system we live in and expect that someone issued from that system can do it. It just can't happen." I think that the same thing is going down with Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow who is running for moderator of the PC(USA) this year. I have to wonder, do we - in the church - really want change, not for change's sake, but in order to authentically and organically lives as witnesses to the faith we profess today?


Monte said...

Read the article in the Tribune - also appeared in the Chronicle. I've gotten 4 phones calls in the last day recommending it...after I blogged about it. GOOD STUFF!

Arlynn Grimm said...

Dear Monte,
Your blog is fantastic. I am sharing it with my adult daughters. There is great value in it for each of them: a history teacher, a regional marketing specialist, and a real estate agent licensed in Florida and Maryland. I love the meditation.

Monte said...

Glad that you're joining the on-going conversation and that my ecclectic thoughts speak to you and get you speaking in turn.