Sunday, August 21, 2005

DIY Religion

Maybe it's a little odd for a Baptist pastor to write so much about the Pope (check out my earlier posts entitled Hell-Bound Pope Sign, Anti-Christ No More, and Pope Found To Be Catholic). Perhaps it was that I dated a young lady who was pre-Vatican 2 Catholic (15+ years after Vatican 2!) Maybe it's the class I took in seminary on Roman Catholic Theology (because I liked the professor, a Dutch guy named Dr. Kiweit.) Maybe I'm just jealous of the cool hats Catholic clergy get to wear. Who knows?

Anyway, I just read a new article on
Yahoo this morning about World Youth Day in Germany... Pope Benedict had some very interesting comments for the nearly 1 million folks who camped to celebrate Mass with him:

He asked them not to see religion as a "consumer product" where people choose only what they want from it and disregard rules that are sometimes difficult to observe.

"Religion constructed on a 'do-it-yourself' basis cannot ultimately help us," he said. "It may be comfortable but at times of crisis we are left to ourselves."

In other words, a faith based primarily on my personal choices is only as good as the quality of my personal choices. When you take into consideration my own track record:
  • Angel Flight slacks & silky flower shirts
  • the musical stylings of Barry Manilow
  • western shirts with pearl buttons on the pockets
  • 50% of the wargames I bought that I never played against another person
  • the aforementioned Catholic young lady & our dating relationship
  • for that matter, the vast majority of my crushes, infatuations & dating relationships
  • letting my hair grow out where it looked vaguely like Woody Allen
  • my struggle with an addiction to pornography
  • and so on... becomes crystal clear that any faith based on me is doomed to failure. One good strong "wind" in the weather system of life & I'd collapse like a house of cards. I need something (well, Someone) bigger than me.

My guess is that you're in the same boat.


Anonymous said...

Of course, he doesn't mean the same thing you do, Mark. To you and I, DIY religion is saying "Jesus is a nice guy, but not the Son of God." To the Pope, DIY religon is using birth control.

I really can't see how the RCC is going to pull out of its European tailspin as long as it has rules that everyone knows don't get followed. Heck, Italy' birthrate is the lowest in Europe! I doubt they can all count the days of the month that well....

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Actually, I'd say that DIY religion to me is "I believe Jesus died for my sins, but the whole 'obedience' thing is like going to a buffet - you pick what you like and leave the yucky stuff sitting there."

I realize that it's easy to focus on birth control with Catholics (I'm way too much of a white guy for the rhythm method to work for us - I can't dance worth a darn!) :-), but there's more to RCC teachings than "reproduce like rabbits" and "don't do it till you're married."

As for their European tailspin, I'm not sure we as Protestants should do a lot of finger-pointing on how well we've done in Europe. The issue is struggling with a truly post-Christian society...