"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
One theologian says it's difficult to import the standards 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 a 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
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.