HERE and discover these radical women and their traditional ways. The unbending rhythms of prayer and silence and worship have beckoned more and more young women (twenty somethings). With their long habits and disciplined regime, these conservative sisters have become, it seems, the new face of radicalism.
I am not here to report on a successful convent but to remind folks that those who appease the culture, who work to make the Church culturally friendly or even relevant, have become the new face of traditionalism. Those who believe the Church has its own culture and one of its most important traits is that it does not change with every whim of fad or trend, have become the new radicals. And it is not limited only to Roman Catholics. The same is true among Lutherans.
The praise bands and casual worship styles of the baby boomers are no longer radical but ordinary -- run of the mill. Youth are increasingly finding these dated and even trivial as they search for that which does not change and for those things that help to tie them to the living heritage of the past. For these youth, the radical future lies with liturgy, chant, silence, hymnody, and truth yesterday, today, and forever the same. The day when it was radical to hoist a guitar and sing "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" have come and gone. Thank God. The whole nature of the worship wars has shifted and the new face of the radical future looks like altar, reverence, vestments, chant, and hymnody. It has moved away from the sermon as a story or many stories with a moral to the deep encounter with the mystery long hidden and now revealed in Christ.
I know because I have three twenty something kids and none of them wants anything to do with the kind of worship the boomers like me used to think attracted youth. They are radical traditionalists and they are not alone. Look at Higher Things as the new radical while the Terry Dittmer style of youth ministry has become old fashioned and, perhaps, passe. It is something to look at for those who are into charting movements within the Church. I hope that our church body is awake enough to realize what is happening and to pay attention to it all. We run the distinct risk of marginalizing ourselves to the sidelines by sticking with something that is so 1960s and 1970s and enjoyed more by people in that age group than by their children and grandchildren.
If a convent flourishes in the face of dying monastic communities all across the nation, maybe there is a signal there worth noting... It is something to think about, that is for sure!