New data tell us that one-fifth of US adults (19.6 percent) "say they are 'nothing in particular,' agnostic or atheist, up from about 8 percent in 1990. One-third of adults under 30 say the same," according to Pew Research Center data that the Washington Post reported today in an article by Michelle Boorstein.
According to the article, "Many pray, believe in God and have regular spiritual routines." They are not godless. But they probably have no community with whom they share their spiritual life.
These are our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers, our children.
It disturbs me that 20 percent of those around me may have no one sharing their spiritual journey. It's often a messy journey, with lots of twists and confusing markers. It helps to hold someone's hand. It helps me to hold hands that reach through the centuries, hands that touch Jesus.
In the current America magazine, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the first president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, writes about the church's emphasis on connecting with others. "The new evangelization [happens when] the Gospel is proclaimed with new enthusiasm, in a new language, which is comprehensible in a different cultural situation and with new methodologies that are capable of transmitting its deepest sense, that sense which remains immutable."
I think he's proposing that we express the most profound faith we know by connecting with those around us through their everyday words, media, language, lifestyles, and activities.
The most profound thing I know about faith, hope, and love is that they happen in community. To me, that is the great truth of the Trinity: that divine life is inherently communal.
Do the unaffiliated 20 percent experience a community / communion that feeds their spiritual quests? Where and with whom do they find it? How many of them are restless or feel alone in their spiritual life?
Where do I experience that kind of community / communion? How can I share it?
What "language" (of words or activities or media or...) can express my deepest faith to others around me, in ways that they are able to hear?
Some may hear best through how I live my life, or through stories of how others live - sisters, saints, or good people around them. Others might hear better through the rich intellectual traditions of the church - the past and present writings in which thoughtful people consider, debate, and explore the great questions of human existence in relation to the divine. Others might hear through an occasional update or question in Facebook or on Twitter.
An individual invitation can be most powerful of all. "I'm doing this. Want to come with me?"
Personally, this website is my invitation to "come with me" as I journey with the wise women of LCWR. It is fueled by my desire to keep learning and praying with the themes that LCWR leaders have expressed with such vitality and eloquence: contemplation, dialog, community, solidarity with people who are marginalized, prophetic life and voice, and joyful hope.
I think the LCWR message and methods can have strong appeal and welcome value to people way beyond those who are actively involved with a church. But I don't know how to reach them. Any ideas?