I was reading an article from Christianity Today about a new book: Souls in Transition, written about the generation currently about 20-30 years old, and their church attendance and spiritual trends. That being the group of folks I’m hanging out with, I was somewhat interested; it was an average take on increased rootlessness, a longer period of restless transition, and so on. But I was struck by how the author, an otherwise reasonable sociologist, responded to the interviewer when asked about how the churches can connect with these people: they can try to form intergenerational relationships, work on campus ministries, and whatnot, but right now they aren’t “catering to” the young and the shiftless, because they are “catering to” married couples with children. The churches of God enter into the catering business, and then wonder why young adults don’t want to go there! I’m more surprised that the couples do.
Plato and Aristotle talk a lot about souls – the government is there that (some) men might live well, do noble actions, and better their souls. Hobbs and Locke talk a good deal about property instead: the government exists so that people don’t hurt or kill each other over the necessities of life (Hobbes seems to have invented the description of life in a state of nature as “nasty, brutish, and short”). So the tutor asked: what about noble deeds? Are they just going to be given up on because different factions of Christianity couldn’t coexist in the 16th and 17th centuries?” Several of us answered “churches and whatnot can do that.” But if the churches are involved in catering and uniting into cafeteria venues, I’m not sure they can. Do we believe in noble deeds?