Each of us is conditioned to notice certain things more than others when we encounter "the media." As a "religious professional," my ears are tuned to any mention of how people spend Sunday morning. (Naturally, I have my opinion about how they should be spending it.)
So the ears of my heart perked up when I ran across this bit from Cal Thomas' most recent column to appear in the Warsaw Times-Union (he's talking about Time magazine's list of the "100 most influential people in the world"):
Who on Time's list fits the definition of "influential"? Not Tim Russert, who is a terrific interviewer, but how much influence could he have at 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning when millions are in church? "If it's Sunday, it is 'Meet the Press'" he signs off every week. No, if it's Sunday, for more people than watch his program, it is church.
I have no intention of marking myself as a fossil by indulging in a "back in the day" rant about the due observance of the Lord's Day. (Although the first time I tried to buy a case of beer in Indiana on a Sunday, I felt like I was "back in the day"!) While I am veritably jubilant to read that there are more people in church on Sunday than watch Meet the Press, a claim I have no reason to doubt, the attitude evinced by Mr Russert in his sign-off remains an emblem of the still-emerging post-Christian era in western society.
Would I have wanted Christendom to endure a while longer--at least until I've moved on to the life to come? Sure. If given the opportunity, I would roll back the clock on that one. Here's the thing: Those of us who are leaders in the old line churches, especially those of a sacramental-liturgical ilk, are pretty much clueless about how to "do church" in any other way than the model we inherited from the era of Christendom. What I and my "religious professional" colleagues are formed for is to be faithful "village parsons"--to lead worship, preach and teach, be the presence of Christ to people at the watershed moments of their lives, and, if we're reasonaby competent, build some community along the way.
In the meantime, though, the acreage of unharvested grain is increasing exponentially (see here for a sobering reality check), and post-Christian Christianity needs to get its act together. The obstacles are a lot more formidable than competing with Tim Russert for quality time on Sunday morning.