Saturday, February 10, 2007


It occurs to me that someone might read my previous post and misunderstand something. When I approved of religious freedom and the inevitable competition that pushes churches to make themselves attractive to converts, I so didn't mean to endorse the last wave of trendy innovations in Catholic liturgy, architecture, and music that began in the late 60's and is only now dying out.

The people behind those innovations claimed that they were trying to make the church more attractive to contemporary Catholics and the world at large, as if they were just humbly responding to some groundswell of popular demand. In reality, the changes they concocted were frequently forced through over the anguished and confused complaints of rank-and-file Catholics, and attracted few if any converts. I know, because I was in my teens and 20's then, and paying attention. These people were really only concerned with making it more attractive to themselves. Big difference.

In the long run, the only thing that gives any Christian church a lasting appeal to converts, not to mention its own members, is the person of Christ. In the short run, I don't know what will work best for other churches, but the best way for the Catholic Church to make itself an appealing place for Christ to be found is to (1) dump the dalliance with "Barney" Masses, fourth-rate pop ballads, sterile modernist architecture, and all the ugly rubble of the last forty years of experimentation, (2) rebuild its connection with its briefly rejected but still esthetically radiant traditions, and (3) preach Christ without giving a you-know-what about what will offend people.