Sunday, August 21, 2005

papal ponderings

This is a very interesting article about Pope Benedict's visit to Germany. Among other things, he has called for an end to DIY religion.

As a good Protestant, this is a tricky statement for me, which is why it's probably intellectually (if not spiritually as well) good for me to read it. On the one hand, I understand his point completely. The Pope would like to see a return to more traditional forms of religious worship and ways of living out faith and spiritual values in daily life. I, for one, am not entirely comfortable when I walk into a church and see a full drum kit where I would expect to see a cross. On the other hand, I know that this is the setting which has brought a great many people into Christianity. If this kind of worship brings them peace and helps them make better choices, all well and good.

The tricky part, of course, is that all religions are to one extent or another DIY. They are institutions created by and for people. I think that the Pope might be calling for people to struggle more with faith, to be made uncomfortable with the issues raised and to face that challenge head-on, rather than seeking a fuzzy version of that experience.

3 comments:

Joe said...

You might want to see the whole homily, at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20050821_20th-world-youth-day_en.html for more context. It strikes me that Benedict is largely talking about the difference between spirituality and religion. I'd extend it to say he's criticizing a lot of "pop religion" which has a vague Christianity without a tie in to tradition. (And, in fairness, specifically Catholic tradition. But he's our Pope, let someone else worry about the Hollywood "kabbalists".)

As a good Catholic, of course, the idea that religion is communal, not individual, is no challenge to me at all. I see your point about Christianity being essentially DIY for the last 2000 years or so. I think the Pope is saying that there's a lot less DIY if you've got two thousand years of tradition on your side than if you've just gone out and bought a copy of "Dr. Phil's Purpose Driven Moved Cheese For The Soul."

But then, I'm deeply challenged by people who are religiously observant with no spirituality apparent in their lives. Double-edged sword.

tommyspoon said...

After reading the article and the homily, I can't help but feeling thus: He may be talking about community, but he's also talking about bureaucracy.

I really love the former, but I really detest the latter.

Rachel said...

I've not yet read Pope Benedict's homily, but I must admit a raied eyebrow when I (with Lemming on that occasion) walked into a chruch and saw a drum set (enclosed in clear plexiglass) where I usually expect an altar. I subsequently now call that church (one of those big "Community Christian" churches): St. Ringo's Church of the Holy Drum Set