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More of the same...
on 9 January 2014
I am rereading this book as it was so bad (you can learn so much about the good from what's bad), and I have realised the analysis of the problems is spot on, but as soon as the turn to solutions, they show they don't understand the first thing about the importance of architecture, scripture, ecclesiology, the Eucharist, and Holy Orders. In fact, they know hardly anything Catholic, and so the book is written as if they're just Protestants interested in church growth who are sympathetic to some of the 'useful' ideas Catholicism might bring to the table.
HOWEVER: the biggest problem with the book is their generalised Parishioner they call "Tim" (from Timonium, in Baltimore where the church is based).
The argument of the book is that this 'Tim', who is the average, de-churched secularist in the parish, has to be pandered to if we are to get him into church. Except 'Tim', is like an obese kid who wont eat his vegetables or do anything good for him unless he's cajouled with some kind of reward, and it doesn't involve commitment, discipline, or exercise. So, of course, 'Tim' will not like Real Catholicism, so their solution is to make their 'church' (what they call 'environment') 'seeker friendly' (remove the bits of Catholicism 'Tim' won't like). In short: indulge 'Tim'.
In essence, as it relies on ideas from Protestant Evanglicalism, what the authors advocate is what Protestantism ends up doing: being completely disingenuous and ending up a 'bait-and-switch' scam in order to get them in - except they've jettisoned the guts of Catholicism in their quest for punters, and left an empty and pathetic shell of the real thing.
If you read the book, they express one aim, yet clearly want another. Their aim in the book is to run roughshod over the 'old-school' (Modernist) Catholic consumers (who were the 'Tims' of the 60s and 70s), and simply replace them with new 'Tim' (Post-Modernist) consumers (who they presume won't be problem-ridden complainers like the old ones). But, before they know it, 'Tim' consumers will prove themselves to be as intransigent as the old-school consumers, unless they constantly keep reinventing themselves, and thereby create a constantly changing 'user-base' AKA congregation. One day, they'll have to introduce 'Lap-dancers for Jesus' in order to attract 'Tim'. That is, have a programme which, by its nature, has to be alienating a percentage of the congregation, in a desperate attempt to attract the new: a revolving door church. They will find themselves, as they have always done, running to stand still as their fundamental operating paradigm is flawed.
Lastly, the book is filled to the brim with non-sequiturs and question-begging statements put across in an authoritative manner, without any justification apart from the fact one of the people - the 'authorities', in most cases Protestant Pastors they had read - had said it.