In light of every thing going on with Kapernick and Trump, etc.... I write this here as a simple reflection of some thoughts for us in ministry. This is only based upon my experience and the things I have seen.
So a few weeks ago I attended a Youth Ministry training where we did an exercise where everyone named both positive and negative words associated with Christianity or Catholicism and to say the least some interesting things came up amongst the youth ministers....
Me, being who I am and always trying to include the ideas and viewpoints of the young people I serve I brought the same questions to my teens. Ironically the very first and most consistent answer that was a negative word people associated with Christianity/Catholicism was "racist". To keep it clear, I have a very diverse group ranging from White kids, to Hispanics, Philippinos, Indian, Bengali, Chinese, as well as African American, and more. And I will say that in my experience in the church, sadly I have personally seen/received some discrimination from certain people in leadership positions on many occasions.
I understand this is a touchy topic, but I do want to explore a little bit of why this may be the perception amongst young people in New York City which is naturally muti-ethnic and multi-cultural.... Moving forward let me also make sure I point out how I don't use the word "multi-racial"(to be explained at another time)
Statistics say that by the year 2020 in the U.S., 55% of those who are under 18 will be non-caucasian. They also state that there is a 50% increase in youth who identify as multi racial since the year 2,000. Lastly, in 2012 54% of Millennial Catholics were Hispanic and that number is estimated to be higher for Generation Z. (let me add that I believe that does not include the illegal immigrants)
So now, what does that mean for us?... What I have seen is some conversations start about "including more ethnicities" in the bigger conferences, and as the faces shown in some of our documents. In fact not too long ago, when events took place in Charlottesville, North Carolina the U.S.C.C.B. issued a statement which states directly "We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured."
Now if this is the case, then why is it that the teens would still feel this way?....
What I have come to think is something I witnessed as I visited a prestigious college not too long ago. I saw many different colors of people, from all sorts of backgrounds, yet the standard of behavior seemed to be the same... In other words, the campus was very "multi-ethnic" but not very "multi-cultural".
What does that mean? Well, if we look at culture as more than the arts, language, food, or clothing and start to see it as the way in which we view and interact with the world then we can see that our education system, politics, and sadly even some leadership in the church has presented that there is one ideal way of seeing the world/interacting with it. For example,(understanding this is in some ways a stereotype but also very true in places I have seen) in some African American communities, as well as Caribbean Hispanics it is more of the cultural norm to be louder, not only in the way their voice is projected, but also in music, etc..... Yet, I have seen many in the church condemn this behavior stating that only those who are silent are closer to God. Another example may be the standard for a man to be of high stature he must feel comfortable wearing a suit and tie. Lastly, I have seen where certain genres of music(not content of the music) are deemed "more spiritual" by many groups within the church.
As the Gospel of Matthew states in chapter 24 verse 14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations..."
I believe this was a way of Christ inviting all people to the kingdom despite their cultural viewpoint or behaviors... Of course this is to say that behaviors that are directly sinful should not be allowed, but nevertheless all morally sound lifestyles should be welcome into the church without judgement. As one person told me "A youth minister does an injustice to his youth when he/she mistakes charism for orthodoxy ."
I have yet to see any of the major Catholic figures address some of the racial tension in our country, and I have heard about less of it addressed from the pulpit and/or in our ministries. Sometimes it is also disheartening when we only hold up high the images of Saints from particular nations, and not others. Although it is an uncomfortable conversation, I do believe it is a cross to be picked up in our modern times here in America.
I end this in saying, let us work to be both "multi-ethnic" and "multi-cultural" in our approach in engaging all people/all nations for the Gospel of God's kingdom and his Church.
- The Symbol
- All is Love
These are my thoughts . . . My Beliefs . . . My Actions . . . Everything I do. This is the documentation of my quest towards creating more unity in the community by authentic #LOVE.
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