Sunday, September 20, 2015

Amazed and Afraid

Hi Everyone!

I hope you got something from watching episode one.  Bishop Barron (He was just ordained a bishop last week!) is a very talented and knowledgeable theologian and has the ability to present the truths of the faith in a way that is easy to understand and stimulates the intellect as well. I have watched the series numerous times and I find that I discover something new each time.

What really struck me about this episode is the statement he makes right at the beginning that Jesus compels a choice.  Barron states that Jesus either is  who he says he is or he is a bad man.  There is no middle ground.  This challenges a very common view of Jesus, that of a wise man or great teacher. About 10 years ago a study was released by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Notre Dame University called the National Study of Youth and Religion. Researchers came up with the term "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism to describe the religion of most youth in America.  They defined this as


1. God created the world and keeps an eye on things from afar

2. We should be good to one another

3. the meaning of life: be happy

4. God isn't really involved in our lives unless we need him to help solve a problem

5. If we are good in life we will get to heaven.

( for more information go to http://youthandreligion.nd.edu)

Now, there is an element of truth in these statements, but they are incomplete from a Catholic perspective. One of the greatest challenges they pose is that the focus is on the self.  For the Catholic Christian, it is about Jesus Christ and giving him glory in our praise and worship and in our daily tasks.

In addition, the concept of God portrayed via moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD) fails to challenge the person at all.  Our Catholic faith challenges us to grow in faith and love and to live according to our nature and our gifts and abilities. MTD also fails to engage the intellect and can easily lead to faith being seen as myth or folklore, some important lessons taught, but largely a form of entertainment or irrelevant to the activity of daily life.

The Catholic Church understands that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah who came into the world to invite us to participate in the divine life, share in the divine mission and to accept His gift of eternal life. Catholicism isn't a brand of religion, it is a way of life, committed to living in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Barron mentions two important claims of Christianity that are central to our Catholic faith: 1. God became a human being and 2. Jesus was raised from the dead.  The most important of the two is the Resurrection. No resurrection, no Christianity.

I invite you to share your own thoughts in the comment section. What struck you about the episode, what stood out? What new understandings did you come away with? What new questions? Do you see moralistic therapeutic deism at work at all among your peers or in our society (or in your own life)?

I also invite you to comment on others' comments. I would be great if we can get a conversation going. The only rule at play here to be respectful of others.

Fr. David

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