The Synod is fast approaching the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The hierarchy, genuine and loving, is taking this time to rejuvenate Cream City.
From time immemorial, leaders of religious communities have been calling for the revitalization of their places of worship. Much of this involves looking for ways to grow their parish and appeal to the younger generation.
Since the Sixties in particular, Roman Catholic presbyters have felt embarrassed by their traditions and feel the need to get more “hip” with modern culture in order to properly evangelize. Indeed, they feel like they are in a rural town which has just banned singing and dancing (see Footloose).
Frightened by such ridicule, they have made it a point to bring singing and dancing to the altar itself. (Can’t you just picture Kevin Bacon shouting, “Let’s dance” underneath falling confetti?) Unfortunately, this has not made the Church any cooler. Regrettably, this has simply led to a whole new set of ridicule. On television, pastors of all denominations are mocked for their stunted social skills. Instead of being that freshman standing against the wall at the homecoming social, they have chosen to be that senior from the chess club who thinks he can dance. What was once a non-event has become a public embarrassment.
Confronted with such difficulty, the Church in Milwaukee should endeavor to be timeless. Rather than continuously attempt to stay up to par with modern culture, why not adopt a style which gets better with age? Why not try Vintage Catholicism? (Ed. note — if George Weigel can do it, why can’t I?)
Milwaukee is home to many exciting initiatives for young professionals: Newaukee, Art Milwaukee, Fuel Milwaukee, etc. Yes, we have praise and worship rallies. But many young professionals want culture. Why not try appealing to the young adults who want to attend the Symphony to listen to Mozart’s Requiem on Thursday night and get hammered at the Brewers game on Friday? We can get them to hear Mozart’s Requiem in the way it was meant to be heard (at Mass!) and help them drink in moderation. Why not teach these young Catholic adults about the Benedictine Lectio Divina and traditional monastic fasts before they head off to the Buddhist monastery to practice Zen and refrain from eating during Ramadan? (For those parents reading this, your children may be doing this at Catholic university near you. Wake up!)
Or, we could keep trying the same failed ideas used over and over again, as we watch the Milwaukee Church become totally irrelevant, wasting this great opportunity with the Synod. It’s at times like these when I remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.