This post has only a little to do with church, and only a little more to do with liturgy. It is a reflection on life and society that has been a long time coming. I have been haranguing my long-suffering wife for years about this topic, and as the phonomenon seems to be progressing so rapidly of late, I figure that the time is right to unleash it on the world.
Some years ago, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, coined the term “Defining Decency Down”. It is used to describle the slow, creeping deterioration of our societal mores wherein behaviors that were once considered disgusting and taboo are now considered normal and healthy.
Well, I am now borrowing and adapting that term to define the similar slow, creeping changes to what is considered decent and appropriate behavior and dress. I call it “Defining Slackness Down”. Nowadays, attire (and attitude) that was once to be seen only in teenagers on vacation is now considered acceptable nearly everywhere and anytime - even considered “Sunday Best”.
There is a phrase, “the clothes make the man” , but it really should be “the clothes reflect the man”. That is, the voluntary decision one makes as to is or her attire reflect the attitude with which that person approaches everything in the world. The man who dons a suit approaches himself and everything else in the world with an attitude completely different than the one who chooses a wrinkled t-shirt, shorts and boat shoes. If an example is needed one need look no further than the term “wife beater”, used to desribe the tank-top style shirts worn consistently by the drunken male sleazeballs seen in the infamous “Cops” TV series.
The extrapolation of this is that people in such a flip-flop wearing society expect to approach everything with a sort of slack, casual attitude. It is the projection of the personal comfort “uber alles” worldview. This is the reason that everywhere, no matter where you go, people don’t seem to give a damn about anything - anything that is ecept themselves. This is the all-pervasive flippant don’t-give-a-rats-ass about you attitude that we have to fight in so many situations is the ultimate result.
In the movie “Patton”, General Patton, as played by George C. Scott, was charged with turning a losing army into a winning one. His first observation - and definition of the problem went like this.
“You want to know why this outfit got the hell kicked out of it?
Hell, a blind man could see it in a minute. They don't look like soldiers.
They don't act like soldiers. How in the hell can they be expected to fight like soldiers?”
Well, the same can be said about our society today. People don’t look like they give a damn. They don’t act like they give a damn. How can they be expected to actually give a damn.
Perhaps, after all, this post does have to do with liturcgy and the church. Look up some photos on line. Take a look at the congregation at a tradtional mass. Then take a look at the congregation at one of the “progressive” masses. Which group do YOU think looks more like they give a damn about the fact that God himself is on the altar???