This migration began in earnest back in the 1990’s and is not coming into its own. I look at my own experience and understand that those of us, back then, were on the forefront of this migration among X-er’s, and now even more so among Millennial’s.
These are the general 5 reasons:
Icons & Symbolism
From the article:
“The departure of young people from “new” churches to “old” ones can be deeply confusing to many who grew up with strict denominational boundaries. However, it has the potential to lead to healthy, restorative spaces for many of God’s people. After all, we are all one church. As Brian Zhand expresses it; ‘we need the whole body of Christ to properly form the body of Christ. This much I’m sure of: Orthodox mystery, Catholic beauty, Anglican liturgy, Protestant audacity, Evangelical energy, Charismatic reality — I need it all!’”
“I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end and thinking about the beginning.
“There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes?
“I know that you are unable to imagine this.
“Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seemed to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the deep blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.
“And still the brain continues to yearn, continues to burn, foolishly with desire. My old man’s brain is mocked by a body that still longs to stretch in the sun and form a beautiful shape in someone else’s gaze, to lie under a blue sky and dream of helpless, selfless love, to behold itself, illuminated, in the golden light of another’s eyes.
“Underneath the worship of God lies silence, a wordless praise, an eyeless vision. When a mind gets faith, it does not get it as it gets a knowledge of England’s history, or as it gets a knowledge of sparking plugs. For ‘gets’ is the wrong word. The word which rings true is not ‘gets’ but ‘receives.’ If you get faith at all, you feel as though you receive it. You hardly asked for it. You may not have wanted it. It came. ‘Nulla fides divina nisi infusionem’ – no true faith without a descent upon you; as it were, poured out, from on high.”
[Owen Chadwick, “The Spirit of the Oxford Movement”, p. 307]
“The fear [more like profound respect leading to complete trust and adherence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; she inebriates mortal with her fruits…
“The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish. She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast.
“To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life.” [Sirach 1:14-20]
“The Church, in common with the whole redemptive process, does not exist as the fruit of human endeavour, which has shown time and again by the bloody collapse of ‘civilized’ rationality to be incapable of attaining anything that is lastingly healing. Thus the Church cannot be reformed by human effort and ingenuity, any more than sin can be reformed by good will. We must hear the gospel of the incarnation as a summons to self-abandonment before all else, not as a reassuring endorsement of the best we can humanity do.”
– Rowan Williams in his book, “Anglican Identities”, p. 89-90, writing on on Michael Ramsey’s theology of the Church.
This is the problem we have today – those who still rely on Modernist notions for their base foundation of what can be known for sure are still trying to reform the Church by human endeavor and some kind of human ingenuity – and it isn’t working. There is too often a reliance on late 20th-Century American socio-political ideology (of the Left or Right) rather than what the enduring Tradition reveals to be the ways-and-means of the Kingdom of God. For example, demanding “rights” is not at all the same as living into “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
With respect to the “reform” of our Church (in this case, the Episcopal Church), what is needed is self-abandonment to the gospel-of-the-incarnation (understood in a Postmodern way), which is completely tied to the deep and flowing stream of the enduring Tradition (for us in its Anglican form) taken up by us from generations past, experienced anew in our own day, and if we are faithful we will strive to understand how to pass it on to the next generations.
What will we do in this Anglican form of the Tradition of ours when we think about issues of a numerically and financially declining Church – a Church that has nearly lost what once was significant influence for the good within society – within a culture that no longer thinks and acts within a Christian worldview?
“The Bible does not supersede labour, but by its very form proclaims labour to be fruitful… There is, no doubt, a restless desire in man for some help which may save him from the painful necessity of reflection, comparison, judgement. But the Bible offers no such help. It offers no wisdom to the careless, and no security to the indolent. It awakens, nerves, invigorates, but it makes no promise of ease.” – B.F. Westcott, “Lessons from Work” (London, 1901) p. 148 as found in “Anglican Identities” by Rowan Williams (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 2003) p.76.
So, does everyone have a right to their opinion? It depends what you mean by “opinion” and by “right,” I suppose. But, no, everyone does not have a right to every opinion, whether their own or by taking on the opinion of someone else.
Secondly, I say something like this: “I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this room, it’s no longer true. You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.”
A bit harsh? Perhaps, but philosophy teachers owe it to our students to teach them how to construct and defend an argument – and to recognize when a belief has become indefensible.
The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse…
Perhaps that’s one reason (no doubt there are others) why enthusiastic amateurs think they’re entitled to disagree with climate scientists and immunologists and have their views “respected.”…
So what does it mean to be “entitled” to an opinion?
If “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion” just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true, but fairly trivial.
But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.
Attention clerics and search committees of the Church – This short blog post: Rectors (Pastors): The Odds are Against You! from an experience, retired cleric (Fr. Robert Terrill) is simply the reality and everyone has to face up to it – particularly those bishops with jurisdiction, especially the Executive Council, and finally the General Convention (throw into the mix seminary deans and professors).
“Again the question, ‘Parish clergy, do you want to improve the odds?’ First, you must be a strong leader. Barna’s [Barna Research Group] studies found that churches that ‘call’ caretakers, healers, managers, administrators, teachers or consensus builders fail to gain ground. Good intentions coupled with the title of Pastor or Rector is not enough. Barna states, ‘toughness is requisite for leadership in making decisions that disturb the status quo but benefit the body.’ The point is that leadership is not about being loved by everybody. It is doing what is best for the parish even though it may stir up some complaints or disturb tranquil settings.”
What Freitas finds most disturbing about hookup culture is that most of those who participate do so less than willingly. The students that she interviewed almost always saw their hookups as imposed by social expectations or as random acts—”It just happened” was a prevailing theme. In this context she has illuminating observations about the link between hookup sex and alcohol. Students “pre-drink” before going to parties because they want to be numb enough to do things that they would not do if sober. At some level they know that engaging with sexual behaviors of various sorts with strangers and casual acquaintances is demeaning. They brace themselves to do these things because they “know” that this is what “everybody” does at parties.
This is an interesting piece by John Ortberg, pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He details seven aspects he thinks trendy notions of “spiritual formation” have picketed up, recently, and the baggage clinging to it coming from people who just want the latest trendy thing in their spiritual lives (mostly my interpretation).
A couple of the examples I find good:
1. I hate how spiritual formation gets positioned as an optional pursuit for a small special interest group within the church. People think of it as an esoteric activity reserved for introverted Thomas-Merton-reading contemplatives. I hate that. Spiritual formation is for everyone. Just as there is an “outer you” that is being formed and shaped all the time, like it or not, by accident or on purpose, so there is an “inner you.” You have a spirit. And it’s constantly being shaped and tugged at: by what you hear and watch and say and read and think and experience. Everyone is being spiritually formed all the time. Whether they want to or not. Whether they’re Christian or not. The question isn’t if someone will sign up for spiritual formation; it’s just who and what our spirits will be formed by.
6. I hate how hard spiritual transformation is, and how long it takes. I hate thinking about how many people have gone to church for decades and remain joyless or judgmental or bitter or superior.
The practice of the “Christian Spiritual Disciplines”, which is at the core of the Imago Dei Initiative, is incredibly ancient and varied. As Mr. Ortberg states, it is incredibly hard and it takes a long time – from glory to glory, in the way we experience the ever deepening insight and humility that results from the practice of it.