“There’s a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt.” — Gordon Sumner
There are moments where you just have to chuckle at the hilarity of it all. Our parish has a regular mass schedule. The last mass of the week takes place at 5:30 PM. This mass is usually reserved for younger people as the music is more contemporary and younger people get started later and later on the weekend.
This past Sunday was Halloween. Anyone that has a pulse knew the attendance was going to be spotty at best. The priest attributed it to the Houston Astros. Their game wasn’t going to start until well after mass was over. Meanwhile, the deacon’s sermon seemed to center on the evils of Halloween. It’s a ten billion dollar industry and there are people starving in Bethlehem. The whole evening was a symbol for what is going on within the church.
Of course, in this case the church is a more generic label. The priest and deacons at our church are nice enough. They work hard at what they do and are as assessible as they can be to the needs of their flock. However, one can’t ignore the facts. Fewer and fewer people are coming on Sundays.
If it is possible, the trend is even more pronounced at the parish where I grew up. It might not be an exaggeration to estimate that the congregation has shrunk to 25 percent of what it was when it was at its peak. I still remember serving on the leadership council when we suggested doing exit interviews with families leaving the parish. The priest balked. He said, “they weren’t leaving the church. They were just moving away because of their jobs.”
Indeed. In the wake of the events on January 6th and the herculean efforts to cover it up and explain it away, the conservative movement has become more and more untenable. If one’s faith “requires” them to be conservative then it is no wonder that millions are leaving in droves. It isn’t even so much that one’s faith requires them to be progressive (although my interpretation points me that way) but that the meaning of being conservative has changed dramatically in recent years.
The recent flack about “let’s go Brandon” seems to cement this in a way that’s overwhelmingly sad. To them, this is a clever way to say “F Joe Biden”. For most of us, we just want to shake our head. Why are we telling Biden to f*** himself? What exactly has he done?
The juxtaposition is impossible to miss. The last leader was somehow ordained by God despite all of his personal failings. God chose him. God blessed him. It was God’s will that he be in leadership. Yet, when other men are chosen to be in leadership and they are immensely more qualified and morally better they are somehow denied that same providence. God didn’t choose them. God didn’t bless them. It was somehow necessary to throw the entire apparatus of religion against them.
All of this came to a head during that mass on Halloween. A chalked line has been drawn around the integrity of the church and it’s place as a relevant moral authority in our age. Those in leadership can’t even identify the victim. Missing the real reason people weren’t there may have been purposely ironic, but it could very well also be a symbol of what’s happening. Some are putting all of their chips in the middle and betting on a hand of nastiness, jealousy, and narcissism. Will the last guy or gal in the church please turn the lights out.