Twenty Somethings- Lost?

Here is a notice from an upcoming conference at Fordham. The topic speaks for itself and the Jewish community would have much to learn by analyzing the similarities and differences. Any thoughts on the loss of the Twenty-Something in Judaism from this program?

The first major difference in the way they run a conference that I notice is that Fordham is bringing in to speak the best experts in each field, the ones that wrote the definitive books. Centrist Orthodoxy only brings in people within that community who are at least temporarily approved. So they have the experts in popular culture, Centrism only brings in those who have read the books of the experts.

Another difference is the role of the empirical data. Centrism at best will bring in someone who did a minor study without controls and non random sample. At Fordham, the bad news empirical data is placed front and center. There is an issue to talk about. They actually mention that religious kids are hooking up.

Finally, a more subtle difference is that Centrism uses a model of deviance, similar to Dobson. If there is a problem in a child, then it was the fault of the parents or the educators. Centrist social psychology stacks the deck in favor of the perfection institution, it was just a deviance in the implementation. Here the model is social trends and autonomous choice. (I may fiske the recent Azrieli survey on parenting as an example).

But then I realized that this is not fair. They Catholic seminaries are not taking in this data or having this discussion. Rather, it is University in the hands of the University Professor laity that is having this discussion. I suppose if the seminaries wanted to know something they would also invite an acceptable clergy who was in the audience and not one of the actual speakers.

When evangelicals make these lists of why 20 somethings are not affiliated, they also include provincialism and lack of culture. These are not current Catholic problems, but they are Centrist problems.

Twenty-somethings raised as Catholics are swelling the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated. Even those who continue to identify as Catholic are regularly absent from the pews and are likely to judge faith less important in their lives than did their parents and grandparents. Yet many twenty-somethings hold traditional beliefs about God, prayer, and life after death; many express spiritual yearnings and the desire to serve.

This two-day conference will examine the lives of young adults and their relationship to the Catholic Church—or the lack thereof. From sexuality to spirituality to service, the conference will present the data, and explore the issues, obstacles and opportunities that mark the fraught relationship between twenty-somethings and the church in today’s cultural, economic, and religious contexts.

The speakers include leading experts and practitioners: James Davidson, Robert Putnam, Melissa Cidade, David Campbell, Carmen Cervantes, Donna Freitas, Colleen Carroll Campbell, Tom Beaudoin, Rachel Bundang, Bill McGarvey, Marilyn Santos, Tami Schmitz, James Martin, Robert Beloin; and twenty-somethings themselves

Friday, January 28, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Twenty-Somethings: The Known and the Unknown
What the data shows about young adults and the church

Saturday, January 29, 2010, 9:30-5:00 p.m.
9:45 a.m. Session I
On Your Own?
Student loans, job searches, finding friends and housing, the parish and social scene—a look at the economic, career, social, and religious challenges twenty-somethings face. What are the implications for religious communities?

11:00 a.m. Session II
Sex and the City of God
Hooking up, casual sex, cohabitation, later marriages, and same-sex relationships are cultural realities for twenty-somethings. How does this affect young adults’ ties to Catholic communities, teaching, and values, and their own desires for lives of integrity and wholeness?

1:00 p.m. Session III
Frenemies? Popular Culture and Catholic Culture
The complex encounter between church and culture: How do twenty-somethings navigate the varied terrains of church culture and popular culture? How does the church engage the media-saturated, sensory-charged, and socially-networked lives of twenty-somethings?

2:00 p.m. Session IV
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” Yearnings of the Spirit
Prayer, preaching, service, Scripture, liturgy, sacraments: what do twenty-somethings seek and where can it be found?

3:15 p.m. Session V
An Inconvenient Church: Reasons to Love or Lose Catholicism
Live From New York: What twenty-somethings are saying about the church.

Full Schedule and Announcement Poster.

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3 responses to “Twenty Somethings- Lost?

  1. The speakers include leading experts and practitioners: James Davidson, Robert Putnam, Melissa Cidade, David Campbell, Carmen Cervantes, Donna Freitas, Colleen Carroll Campbell, Tom Beaudoin, Rachel Bundang, Bill McGarvey, Marilyn Santos, Tami Schmitz, James Martin, Robert Beloin; and twenty-somethings themselves
    Another difference is inviting the youth themselves in to explain where they’re coming from.

    • To their credit, the orthodox forum did actually invite 20 somethings to discuss when the topic was sexuality. The problem was their being told to speak in euphemism – to say intimacy and not sex, and that only the good and basically pure were invited.

      • You forget the attitude of some of the middle aged [orthodox] participants:
        My teenage daughter will be married by the time she finishes Stern; there is no way in hell she will be living on the UWS in ten years. Therefore this is not relevant to me or my community. It was like they were covering their eyes and ears and doing the hear no evil see no evil dance – albeit with more bluster and less dancing.

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