December 29, 2004

Friends vs. Family

Secret Agent Man answers a query about why Protestant churches often appear more successful:
A lot of what you mention, it seems to me, has to do with the following question: "Why aren't people as excited about their families as they are about their friends?" We spend lots of time with our friends, far more time in many cases than we do with our families. Relationships with friends seem more intense, more comfortable, and often "click" better than familial relationships.

Protestant churches have a spring-like freshness that puts one in mind of a first love. Many are begun as "niche" churches that cater to the specific needs or theological quirks of the founders. Like-minded people then join, experiencing the "friendship rush" described above. This happens even within denominations, with one Lutheran Church being the elegant home of empty-nesters and retirees, and another across town tailored to young professionals or blue-collar families. When this goes too far, one has insular, tight-knight cliques which are the very antithesis of "Church." But it does make for a high level of interest and satisfaction among members.

Catholicism is more like the family you were born into, or the one you acquire over time. All the stupid time-wasting cantankerous crap your family can put you through is there in spades. You can fight for ages before you realize that nothing's going to change and you'll just have to put up with it, somehow.

No comments: