Wednesday, 30 November 2011

How do you evangelise a Zombie?

I have worked, during most of my career with young people aged from 16 years of age up to 24 and beyond. They came from all sorts of backgrounds and had all sorts of beliefs or none at all.

A third of them were excellent students, well behaved and diligent. Another third were just there; they existed, they scraped through their assignments and they finally passed through the system (I can identify with that sector, I was like that in my time so don’t give up hope on them  completely).

The final third are the walking dead; some College staff referred to them as “the knuckledraggers” – what unkind person could have used that phrase?
But, it was true. They grunted at times, they were, largely, unwashed, they could not actually string a sentence together and they could not hold a knife and fork.
 They could not tell you who Churchill was let alone Jesus Christ.

Amazing but true.

The problem is, of course, that these are the children of the latch key kids generation.
Their parents came home after school (if they ever went there) to an empty house, not a home.

Food came from the freezer and was microwaved to an instantly edible mush. It was consumed in front of the television (porn videos from under dad’s side of the bed?) and it was eaten using only the fingers. Easier and it saved on the washing up.

If you think that I am painting a damning picture, you are right. But it is also true. And this is the next, evolved generation. The generation that are adept at playing computer games for 12 hours at a stretch, the generation that has lost the art of communication.

Now as Catholics we have a mission in life to lead others to Christ. Not in a Jehovary sort of way, that is crass. Not in a Protestant TV  evangelical sort of way, they wouldn’t watch it. And certainly not in a happy clappy, cheery wavy, Catholic charismatic sort of way. That way only fools the charismatics.

The Holy Father has charged the Bishops to evangelise in 2012 but I’ll bet you a meal for two at McDonalds that no attempt will be made to make contact with the massive numbers, possibly hundreds of thousands that I speak of.

Why? Because it’s hard. Because the number of clergy the Church has that are versed in communicating with young dissidents does not run into double figures, because the ideas cupboard is bare; not only bare, the Bishops have forgotten that it ever existed!

We need new ideas, new ways of approaching this group. They are so tragic, sleepwalking to Hell. They need saving.

But who will save them?

And more to the point – how will they be saved?

Watch this space for some attempt at answering this troubling situation in a few days time.


  1. I think the way that the institutional Church has tried to answer this in the past is by trying to make Faith fit the culture. In other words, they took cultural "things" and made them "Faithful."

    It doesn't work, or at least it hasnt. The only way I have seen such evangelization take place is when the culture is juxtaposed with what the Church teaches, and the zombies are shown an antidote for their disease. But like any good zombie, they dont think, and doing nothing is easier than doing something... so you must show then that what is offered is hope and something better. That is the hard part, because many who evangelize dont understand why the zombies are the way that they are.

  2. I'll look forward to reading your further thoughts on this. When I started to attend Mass, one of the pleasing things that struck me was the greater variety of types of people in the congregation compared to the (rather polite) Anglicanism I had come from. Part of the solution strikes me as the 'thinginess' of Catholicism: it offers (and should offer) things -sacraments, sacramentals etc- rather than just words. Also the immediate, childish (childlike?) appeal of glittery things. Banks look special. Courts look special. Why shouldn't Churches and priests look special too?

  3. I think some of these zombiefied young people are suffering from a neurological deficit as a consequence of poor attachment in infancy and childhood. It is very tragic.
    One thing which would make a significant difference to young people would be to restore to marriage and motherhood the special status that they once enjoyed. This would, of course, require a radical change in social policy .

  4. Social policy is what we need to get away from! The government needs to back off and let families raise their own children. These children are the ultimate success story of a culture of control, surveillance and manipulation. They are mass produced humanity, fit to become a unit of production, a 'human resource' that will be controlled by managers and bureaucrats. They will provide a comfortable living for hundreds of government employees throughout their miserable lives, as they are pushed from one agency to another, being classified, medicated and manipulated by one set of experts who will then pass them on to another set to diagnose the 'behavioural problems' that were caused by the first gang. We've got to claim our lives back: embrace Mother Church and reject the Nanny State. And change is only going to come one person, one family at a time.
    To look for grand initiatives from the top down is to play into the hands of the system that got us into the mess we are in. Sadly, too often, the hierarchy has aped the secular system, and bishops have become bureaucrats instead of shepherds. So we're not likely to get any lead from them.