… scruffy skateboarders launched perilous jumps in a soaring old church …watched over by a mosaic likeness of Jesus and a solemn array of stone saints.

The Wall Street Journal, January 3-4, 2015

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Christianity seems to be dying.  Belief in religion is disappearing, it seems.  In the Netherlands 42 percent of the population is not affiliated with any religion.  In France, 28 percent.  Germany, 25 percent.  England, 21 percent. The U.S., 16 percent.

This is a complicated problem to explain.  In part, we do not experience life as we once did.  We seem to live removed from any sense of the sacred nature of a life, its holiness, its transcendence.

Life has shrunk and in being shrunk, it becomes flat, without meaning and purpose and as a consequence unhappiness and despair grow and are manifest in depression, narcissism, suicides, addictions, broken families, abortions, neglected children, loneliness, a loss of intimacy and the small, bitter and selfish politics of division.

Without belief, love evaporates and God fades away for many.

Recently, I have noticed a flatness in the homilies I hear in church.  They often appear like old records – music that is familiar but quaint in a way, and more a memory of what is lost than what is present.

These homilies do not connect and rarely inspire, breathe life and speak of man and women today.

It is, in some ways, a significant mistake to train clergy in yesterday but not today. The growing decline in belief tells us how great a gap we have and how unable we are to touch others with the words that heal and sustain today.

Our plight reminds me of a song written by British singer Jez Lowe entitled Old Sod.  It is a song about a balladaire who woos a gal and quickly deserts her and the child to pursue his aimless life.

In the lyric, the women laments “lullabies” she sings can no longer comfort her son … and she says to him in the song:

“Your father will never be daddy to you, and never whatever to me … The dark was his light, like yours is tonight.  His music, it wooed me and licked me.  It stuck to the bone, like moss to a stone but he rolled away soon as you kicked me.”

What will you do without God?  Who will comfort your child?  How will a family exist?  Who will be a father to a son?  A mate to you?  Sir, where will you get your comfort and your identity?

How will we love when the churches are closed?

Shalom.

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