The case against mix-and-match spirituality

Call me old fashioned, but yes, I would say, to be a good Catholic you have to believe in God,” she said. “There’s a problem with the hyper-individualization of Millennial religion. The advantage of an institution is that it forces you into conversation with people you might not agree with. It forces you to grapple with a tradition that includes hard ideas. It forces you to have, for at least part of your life, a respect for authority that inculcates the sense that you have something to learn, that you’re not reinventing the wheel, but that millennia have come before you. The structure of institutions, for all their evils, facilitates that. And we may be losing that.”

Wieseltier posited that it’s being lost because Americans are trying to bring to their religious experience the same level of customization that they expect when shopping. “They treat their tradition as consumers–or let’s say, consumers with loyalty to one store.” More than other panelists, his forecast was gloomy. “On the question of what is true or false about the universe,” he said, “Americans are not interested anymore.”