Your Neighborhood Cathedral

Jan 6 2013 @ 10:37am

A recent NYT article covers trends in American Christianity, such as meeting in movie theaters and coffee houses. Pivoting off the article, Walter Russell Mead declares that "[e]ntrepreneurialism and adaptation is in the DNA of American religion," and sounds a hopeful note about the religious life of millennials:

In America today, Catholic, liberal Protestant, evangelical and African American churches all in their different ways face the challenge of a generation that isn’t necessarily happy with the forms of faith they’ve been offered. As millennials mature in their personal faith and their theological and cultural reflections, we should expect this generation to come forward with new ways of stating and living the Christian message. There will be conflict and wrangling; “New Lights” and “Old Lights” will struggle over doctrine and practice as they have done since Jonathan Edwards’ critics attacked the Great Awakening. But if history is any guide, the new generation will find and express an authentic and compelling interpretation of the ancient faith, and American politics and culture will be shaped in large measure by the answers the millennials find.

Rod Dreher, while skeptical of such trends, finds a potential upside to these churches:

I think these nouveau Protestant guys are onto something with their ideas of church coffee shops and other community-center activities. In medieval times, the church was not only the place for liturgy, but was also a community center of sorts. In Chartres, for example, the great cathedral was in those days a community gathering place; merchants even sold goods inside the church when liturgies weren’t going on. That may have been pushing it too far, but as a general matter, I think it’s not a bad thing at all when a community makes the church a center of its common life, and not just during worship.