All posts tagged: Millennials

Science Is Not as Important as We Believe

The New Evangelization is not about measuring up to science and speaking to its disparate methods. Science matters. Right? If idle chatter on the internet is to be believed, then absolutely. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s tweets are consistently in the news, and, even if not the force he once was, Richard Dawkins remains a household name. The latter continues to go around endlessly delivering lectures; the former has begun to spin himself as the voice of reason in a disordered age by appointing himself and the unofficial editor of President Trump’s proposed space force Benedict XVI, of course, called Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene “a classic example of science fiction.” Meanwhile, laughing at Neil DeGrasse Tyson is basically a parlor game in some circles. And yet, somehow, we are told that religion must speak to science. As the number of “nones” in the United States grows, we have been tasked with finding a way to convince them that the Catholicism does not stand in opposition to reasonable, scientific inquiry. There is no shortage of write-ups arguing that …

Homo AvocadoPanem: An Anthropology of the Millennial Sacrificial Imagination

In May of 2017, Tim Gurner, Australian property developer, poked fun at the quotidian luxuries endemic to Western young-adult culture, instructing millennials to “lay off avocado toast,” and save their pennies for a house down-payment instead. Gurner’s glib remark prompted mockery both of the popular breakfast item’s obscenely inflated prices, and a waterfall of similar critiques directed at privileged young professional class who indulges in it. Even prior to Gurner’s comments, plenty of thinkpiece hay has been made of millennials’ spending habits, causing consternation and bemusement.[1] Millennial spending habits have engendered speculation on whether millennial aversion to materiality is merely a delay in their maturation into appropriate American adult materialism; or whether millennials are forging a new way of imaging success.[2] In many respects, millennials are foregoing material goods and gains for more intangible goals. Generally rejecting flashy material purchases (such as luxury cars) as indications of status.[3] The millennial generation employs other metrics to measure status. Because a majority of millennials prize access over ownership,[4] living in a space where they can access cultural …

Don’t Panic About Nones Who Stop Believing

Sooner or later—probably sooner rather than later these days—children stop believing in Santa Claus. My younger brother was an exception to this rule, although to be fair there were a lot more cultural supports for Santa Claus in the early 60’s, and my parents always arranged for someone dressed in convincing Santa attire to arrive in our front room parlor every Christmas Eve. However, we reached a point when the good Sisters in our parish school finally called my mother in and said, “It’s time to tell him.” My brother was devastated to learn the truth, but also embarrassed by the fact that it was not revealed to him sooner. I think of this often when I read all the hand-wringing about “Nones” and young adults “leaving the church.” According to research conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Pew Research Center, between 50 and 60 percent of people who claim no religious affiliation (the so-called “Nones”) report that they simply “stopped believing” in their childhood religion, usually before age 30. Of course, …

Debunking Abortion Myths: Part 2

Political rhetoric often gives the impression that Americans’ views on abortion may be neatly categorized along ideological, generation, and gender lines. However, this ethereal narrative blurs and even obscures the on-the-ground reality: Americans’ views on abortion are far more complex than our prevailing political narratives are usually willing to admit. A Salon article entitled “How to Argue with Your Relatives About Abortion: A Few Arguments that Won’t Work with Pro-Lifers and Some that Might” by Shawna Kay Rodenberg (introduced in the first post of this series) gives advice on how to successfully argue with your Aunt Cheryl about abortion over the family dinner table. Ms. Rodenberg ascribes to the myth that millennials are overwhelmingly pro-choice. This generational argument is a common abortion myth, one that is called into serious question when we take a closer look at polling data. In fact, we find a much more complex picture, one that reveals that the generation gap may actually run in the other direction, that is, Aunt Cheryl is more likely to be pro-choice than her millennial …

Millennial Catholics and Fish Fridays

Michael O’Loughlin of America Magazine has a report on Millennial Catholics, drawn from a recent survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). While the report doesn’t reveal much change from a 2008 survey on the same topic, there are a couple of areas of concern. But when it comes to millennials, changes in how Catholics practice the sacraments are more dramatic. Take Lent, for example. In 2008, half of all millennial Catholics reported receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday. Now, that number has dropped to 41 percent. The number of millennial Catholics giving up something for Lent dropped 10 points from 2008 to 36 percent, and those donating money or trying to change negative behavior dropped 18 points, to 28 percent. Some Catholic habits, however, are proving stickier. More than half (58 percent) of millennial Catholics still do not eat meat on Lenten Fridays, a dip of only three points since 2008. But Catholic millennials mirror their non-Catholic peers, showing a downward slide when it comes to attending religious services, prayer and belief …

The Mass for Millennials: Holy Communion

“I want so much to be yours, and there is only one thing constantly in my way–that I am myself.” —Monica, The Jeweler’s Shop, Act III.3 For the first two acts of Karol Wojtyla’s The Jeweler’s Shop, the play follows the paths of two married couples. In the third act, we find that the children of these two couples–Monica and Christopher– are now in love, and on the verge of marriage. Because of her parents’ strained union, however, Monica takes pause at the thought of marriage. Monica fears that to be drawn into relationship means the inevitable loss of one’s self. When I read the dialogue of Monica and Christopher, I find that Monica’s doubts and misgivings resonate deeply with me. Monica seems to dwell on her own shortcomings, and on all the uncertainties the future holds. “Will it not be a mistake, my dear, will it not all come to an end?” she asks Christopher. Monica is terrified of herself, of her ability to withdraw into her own ego, to drift apart from her beloved. Particularly …

The Mass for Millennials: The Homily

When I speak to young adults about why they have left the Church, they often say something about the homily. The preaching is boring. It’s unrelatable. It’s long. It’s like listening to insider baseball. It’s like a terrible essay with no organizational structure. While one would hope that our young adults would stick around, recognizing that the reality at the heart of the Mass is worth receiving even when the preaching is mediocre, perhaps these young adults are testifying to something important. Some young adults may be looking for entertainment in the homily. References to the latest music or films. Practical advice. But there is something about the dissatisfaction with preaching that suggests young adults know that the homily is meant to lead to an encounter with Christ. It is not an occasion for the priest to offer a seminar in historical-critical exegesis. It is not time to offer one’s disconnected thoughts on a papal encylical or apostolic exhortation or general cultural phenomenon. It is not the time for the priest to regale the assembly …

The Mass for Millennials: The Liturgy of the Word

Remember. Sometimes, it takes the opening movements of the mass for my mind and heart catch up with my body. As I sing the opening song, sign myself with the Cross of Christ, and join the presider and community in prayer, I take a few deep breaths as I allow the rhythm of the liturgy to wash over me. Sitting down in the pew for the Liturgy of the Word, I enter into the practice of listening – to open up my ears, my heart, my soul – to receive the Word of God. Sometimes it takes more work to quiet the disjointed thoughts running through my mind and allow myself to be fully present to the presence of Christ in the Scriptures being proclaimed. Yet cultivating this practice of listening is essential for as we participate in the Liturgy of the Word, we encounter the story of God’s mercy and love proclaimed for us both in this moment and throughout all of salvation history. Life today can easily become fragmented and isolated. We sit …

The Mass for Millennials: Glory to God

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk 2: 13–14) In the celebration of the liturgy, the Glory to God occupies a unique place. On the one hand, it is a response: we have just participated in the Penitential Act by recalling and confessing our sinfulness as individuals and as a worshiping community, and we have just heard the priest pronounce the concluding blessing “in which the forgiveness of sins is given.” The only response that makes any sense in the face of such a gift is to cry out “Glory to God in the highest.” On the other hand, the Glory to God is also an anticipation: we are poised on the verge of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in which we proclaim in Scripture and enact in ritual the mysteries of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ in such a …

The Mass for Millennials: Penitential Act

Silence is not a common feature in my life. As a musician I am rarely without a song in my head, and this song can find its way out of my mind even with the slightest prompting—if a word, phrase, or chord progression resembles something in a song I love, I begin a full rendition. I’ve been known to accidentally hum in class absentmindedly, much to the dismay of my teachers. Heck, I even talk in my sleep. So silence is not something I deal with often, and thus it is not something to which I am accustomed. If conversation dulls with a friend and silence threatens to rear its abrasive head, I am comfortable dropping a joke or lightening the mood with an anecdote. When “moments of silence” are called during prayer services, I often fidget my way through them or lose myself in thought about some completely disconnected topic. But these instances of silence are significant in our culture, which is clear from their frequent use in somber services. Silence does more than …