Service Engine Soon!

Mr Goodwrench Service engine. Soon! The The warning light. The fears. The knowledge that you forgot something, when that warning light came on. For two days last week, that warning light came on. Then it disappeared.

When I grew up there was this sense of belonging. I had always bought American cars, out of a sense of loyalty. Specifically either Pontiacs or Chevrolets. In an era when Japanese cars had been increasing their market shares.

When I grew up, the archbishop in Minneapolis-St. Paul was from here. I actually knew him. And then I moved to a different state where that local bishop was from my home parish. That sense of belonging does not happen much any more. Anywhere in the United States. Not since that college of cardinals started electing non-Italian popes. Not since those foreign cars came to America in great numbers. Since 1979, this was the same leadership model of the last two popes. Imports. In St. Paul, the archbishop was from Pontiac country, from somewhere in Michigan. But who really cared when the archbishop came from?

The Catholic News Service carried an Anchorage by-line on a story today, reporting that many young adults are arriving on campus increasingly having had no formal religion, without any language of faith, and expressing little interest in finding the ultimate truth. A study on religious affiliation by researchers at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut found that about 22 percent of adults 30 and younger identify themselves as “none,” not identifying with any particular religious group. The irreligious, unreligious, anti-religious, and anti-clerical now number 34 million, since 1990 having almost doubled. Not all of these “nones” are atheists. Many believe in God but don’t believe in the church, the temple, or the mosque. Barry Kosmin and and Ariela Keysar, the lead authors of the report, indicate Vermont is the state with the highest number of unaffiliated. “Every region and state in the country is showing the same trend,” said Kosmin. A large percentage of former Catholics, a disproportionate number of Catholic men, are in this category. Kids born since 1979. In a world of fast food franchises, people born in a particular place, where all thing once had been local, were reflecting the world that they grew up in.

Every five years bishops make Ad Limina visits to Rome. According to canon law Number 399, a bishop needs to report to the pope an accounting of the state of his diocese. The bishop delivers a written report on the state of his diocese as well as a renewal of his pledge of dedication to the Holy See. The Pope then delivers his own address to the bishop, offering his perspective on the challenges facing the Church in that diocese.

Service engine. Now! If the diagnosis is bad, the treatment plan is worse. About that warning light which had appeared in August. And the mechanic, from one of those franchised shops, found nothing and just turned it off. And now here I was dealing with all this. Again.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops had now announced they were turning back the clock to pre-1965, with the language of the Catholic Mass, come 2011. The pope did not care that these were the prayers used in the English speaking world for more than 40 years. Where was the owner’s manual? It had all the instruction. When leadership is imposed from afar, what was the appeal of such a world to the young. With indifferent leadership, who could identify? In their lifetime, the only thing local was the catcher who played for the major league team in town. At least this baseball franchise was locally owned, anyway.

Leadership had been from afar all of the lives of the young, with church leaders, a lot like most of the executive staff at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, coming from places far away, sent here. A lot like in the days of the British Raj, like the Brits had tried to rule India. Most of us went about our daily life not conscious of this. Who really cared when the editors and publisher came from? While the Minneapolis Star Tribune was coming out of chapter 11 bankruptcy this month. And who really cared when the archbishop came from? This was the “who really cares” generation. Because institutions no longer had a structure showing who really cared about anything except politics. Who was conservative? Who was liberal? Not since that college of cardinals had been stacked with appointments, with litmus tests over issues like Humanae Vitae. Who really cared about this community? Everyone just seemed power hungry. For their side of the tug of war. With a pope delivering his own address, offering his perspective on the challenges facing the Church in my diocese.

The declaration over time of an identity. While watching a child grow, a parent witnessed the development of an identity. It happened to people and it happened to institutions. That unstated conflict part of the institutional advancement. That part of the unstated conflict to become known. In branding. In becoming well known. Or not?

What exactly was the significance of the meaning of a brand? Now with General Motors bankrupt, what exactly was gonna happen to my brand? In the near future? Was it indifferent leadership to a changing world that had affected GM? What would happen to people in states with the highest number of unaffiliated? Getting their auto parts? What would happen to the community when government bodies like the Metropolitan Council tried to formulate plans for the future? For things like mass transit, limiting parking lots, creating green zones? When all politics was really local.

So God …. and this shared dominion that came invisibly after Creation. And through His vehicles to become well known. A God who desired a human population. The initial excitement of getting a license. Of having a car. The Model A. The Model T.

God and the movement in the story of God, with the crises to become well known. That was part of the unstated conflict in His story with his own Chosen People. In search of greater attention. It seemed a part of God’s own inner conflict. The ultimate in humbleness versus His exploding power of Creation. With the invasion of those cars from Asia. In the poetic connection of religions and the automobile.

And so God’s vehicles to become well known. In the green world … for those not realizing how you or they got here. And not realizing where you or they were going. With whatever vehicle which got your ancestors here … to this point. As it became time to choose your own model… Or not.

Limiting parking lots. Temples and churches and parking lots.

The warning light was flashing. Service engine. Soon! It once had been important to know where the mechanic came from. Did he know the Pontiac brand? In a world where once there was concern whether there would be any trained mechanics, for this part of a generation that was not choosing a model, with 22% not having any vehicle, the question was now one about movement. Yeah, the green movement had come to our shores. And in a strange way, these people were going to be going it alone. Without any kind of brand. But in need of a ride. Relying on mass transit, with no personal investment.

That Trinity College in Hartford had released a report on all of this which might suggest that this trend would have a large affect on the future of America. As General Motors goes, so goes the nation. When Your Jack Is Broke

Parking lots, temples, and churches. And increasingly, a larger share of the local population in need of a ride. But Who really cared? In a Creation when apathy was the opposite of love, what exactly would be carrying if not exactly moving this next generation and the following generations thereafter?

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1 comment so far

  1. paperlessworld on

    In a report by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, the actual number of Americans calling themselves Christians has fallen in 7 years — from 78.4 percent in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014 — per today’s released Pew Research Center Survey. As an appendix with the survey, the national percentage of those calling themselves Catholic fell about 3.1 percentage points, from 24 percent to 21 percent. In Minnesota, the number identifying themselves currently as Catholic since that day on April 24, 2007 that Archbishop John Nienstedt took over as archbishop of the Saint Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese — not long after April 19, 2005 that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope — dropped to 22 percent, from 28 percent in 2007.

    In a study of comparative religion, how does the number of those raised Catholic who eventually leave the faith — 32 percent — compare to the percentage of those raised in and then left other denominations: Presbyterians, 59 percent; Episcopalians, 56 percent; Methodists, 54 percent; Lutherans, 42 percent; Baptists, 39 percent. Actually a much lower percentage than that of mainline Protestant denominations, the Catholic number stands out because of the great number of Catholics in the United States, compared to the rest of Christian churches.

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