Thursday, May 12, 2005

We vs. They

Spending time last weekend with a bunch of teenage Catholics, I started wondering what the average American teenage Catholic thinks about the Catholic Church these days.

I've read recently, though I can't recall where, that teenage American Catholics are largely apathetic. I'm wondering if that's true. I'm really not sure. Granted, I was with a giddy Confirmation class of 13-year-olds. They spoke of attending "Life Teen" masses and activities at Church. (Sounds fun!) They seemed far from apathetic.

After a rather exhaustive web search, the most recent info I could find on the topic was a rather dated article from the National Catholic Reporter, circa 2001. It was a review of Michael Carotta's book "Sometimes We Dance, Sometimes We Struggle", which reportedly chronicles the spirtual development of adolescents. Carotta reports that 40 percent of American Catholics are under 38, and half of those are teenagers or younger. (You do the math.)

He offers an interesting view at what we (Catholic adults) think compared to what they (Catholic teens) think.

We emphasize community; they value individual faith.

We teach with words and books; they learn with slogans and visuals.

We emphasize the knowing; they are interested in doing.

We offer a moral map; they want a moral compass.

We tell a story from start to finish; they see multiple plots with no resolution.

We stress our uniqueness; they value diversity and commonality.

We treasure our religion; they seek spirituality.

We value counseling; they seek confession.

We speak in theological language; they understand plain English.

We observe feasts and holy days; they interact, participate, create.

We value training and caution; they use delete.

We refer to Vatican II; they invent Vatican new.

Interesting perspective. What do you think?


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