We Can Convert this Culture. The Only Thing Lacking is Leadership.

We Can Convert this Culture. The Only Thing Lacking is Leadership. September 9, 2015

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle

We can convert this culture. The only thing lacking is leadership.

That’s my take in a post I wrote for the National Catholic Register on two of the most recent polls about the Catholic Church in America today.

Here’s part of what I said:

… The trouble with “opinion” polls is that interpretation of the results rests in the hands of the interpreters. That’s why a recent poll that indicated that fully 90% of Catholics approve of the Pope, and a whopping 89% of Catholics also approve of their Church, received a headline from the Washington Post announcing that “The vast majority of US Catholics who left the Church can’t imagine returning.”

Their bias is showing.

I spent my entire legislative life looking at polls like this and then doing what I thought was best, despite the poll. I knew that poll results were indicators, not hard thinking. In the final analysis, polls didn’t matter. What mattered was whether or not I could communicate my vision to the people I represented. To put it another way, what mattered was whether or not I could exercise leadership.

I look at the same polls that Catholic bashers mine for nuggets to throw at the Church, and I see attitudes, situations and off-the-cuff reactions to disparate realities. I also see enormous opportunity for conversion of this culture.

The poll I cited earlier was a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Pew Research Center released another, slightly different, poll showing much the same results. The emphasis of the poll by the Public Religion Institute was the impact that the so-called “Francis Effect” was having on American Catholics. The Pew Research poll was mostly focused on Catholic attitudes about family.

It’s impossible to create parallels between the two polls because their respective definitions of “Catholic” are so different from one another. The Pew Research poll opens the spigot wide, noting that up to 45% of the American population is in some way “connected” to the Catholic Church.

The poll also reveals that 90% of American Catholics believe that the best family situation for raising children is “a household headed by a married mother and father.” I’m not sure what slice of their sampling they used to get this number. Was it everyone they consider Catholic? Or was it just regular Mass-going Catholics?

Pew Research basically defines anyone as a Catholic who says they are Catholic. This includes people who haven’t been inside a Catholic Church in decades right alongside those who attend daily Mass.

But whatever sampling they used, that is a powerful percentage.


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6 responses to “We Can Convert this Culture. The Only Thing Lacking is Leadership.”

  1. A best family situation is an optimal situation. Not everyone has the advantage of an optimal situation. There was a time in my life when I considered my personal life experience to be considerably sub-optimal. I compared it to what was portrayed in commercial media to find it rather miserable. It was not until later in life when I met people who grew up in situations portrayed on TV that I came to realize how they were not as great as were presented. My sub-optimal family environment seemed rather ideal in comparison.

  2. Heterosexual lifelong monogamy has been through the fire before- and will emerge again- because it is the optimal model given our biology.

    Evolution requires that some non-optimal solutions be tried, to show what is optimal.

  3. That poll did give us reason to hope, but I guess when it comes to coverting the culture I wonder what your definition is of a culture converted. Are we going to end divorce, SSM, abortion, casual sex, pornography? Not in my lifetime.

  4. ‘Optimal’ does not mean perfection in every individual situation, it merely means that it presents the best odds of success given all of the alternatives.
    Incidentally – no one grows up in situations portrayed on TV. After all, how did Ginger happen to have so many changes of clothes after taking just a ‘three hour tour’? Life is messy and doesn’t resolve itself in 30 minutes.