Friday, December 14, 2012

Opposition of the I to the We

"The we disappears and the I appears before God" headlines an article that bemoans the distorted understanding of secularization that gives rise to individualism and passivity. Rather than discovering our authentic faith during the Year of Faith, the article contends that we are likely to find, under the banner of the new evangelization, according to many scholars and theologians in Korea, that the biggest obstacle to  our faith is an increasing individualism.

Individual  spirituality is making  inroads within the faith life of our Christians. Pope Benedict has alluded to this tendency in one of his interviews, saying
that passive and individual spirituality can now be seen in the life of the Church. Korean scholars see personal profit, satisfaction, and the increase of excessive selfishness as derivative of this thinking. No matter how strong the idea of the holy may be, centering on oneself is growing stronger. Individualism can readily be seen in the globalization that is taking place in Korea.

Many see this drift towards individualism as the key in reading the future. 
Religion is  influenced by this trend in society.  When religion is reduced to the private, the social elements are discarded.

One theologian says it's difficult to import the st
andards used in the West to determine the results of this transformation within Korean society. We can see the drift away from community by those who have ceased going to Mass and confession and have become tepid. This has been operative in the Church for sometime. Another scholar sees postmodernism and its stress on the 'me' against the 'we' as having a destructive influence on the understanding of religion for many.

One element of  this change is the reliance on religion to make one feel good and
to provide blessings. One of the surveys made in 1998 found that most people when praying are interested in their own or family needs. In Korea with our folk religion, which is centered on the self, this modern tendency fits in well. And one scholar feels that it is developing into worship of the self.

A Catholic Time's survey
on spiritual life and community, first made in 1987, found that 73 percent of those surveyed thought community life important.  The same questions, asked  again in 1998, found that 63 percent considered community important. In the last survey in 2006, only 38.6 percent considered community important. A clear sign of a  continual drop in the way Christians see community life, and supporting evidence for those who see the tendency toward individualism. 

In conclusion, a leader in the the studies of Catholic culture says that although we have a statistical increase in the number of  Catholics, there is a decrease in identifying with the community, a lessening of religious sensibilities, and fewer people who are willing to sacrifice for a cause.
The mystery of church community and of a community of love as being essential to Christianity are goals that the Church has to address in its teaching, liturgy, and ways of living the faith as it moves forward into the future.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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