Wednesday, October 29, 2008

AP: "The Sky is Falling"

For many years, Father A. has listened politely while people of a certain age state, as if it were a truth universally acknowledged, that the Great Depression was a good time for churches.  "People had nothing else," they say, "so they fell back on religion."  And then they add, wistfully, that the solution to "our mess today," meaning everything from teenage pregnancies to shrinking churches, "would be something like that ole Depression."

Looks like we'll get a chance to test their hypothesis pretty soon.

For the record, Father A. has spent much of the past year immersed in minutes of the United Lutheran Synod of New York covering 1929-1935.  And he can say, categorically, that these were not good years for churches.  They were terrible years.  A missions committee that had been planting two or more successful new congregations every year ground to a halt.  Pastors lost their parishes, parishes lost their buildings.  Nobody got paid, nothing got built.  Contrary to the myth, worship attendance wasn't especially good. 

The AP article linked above gives a foretaste of the feast to come.  It reads about the way a similar story would have read in 1930.  By 1931, the stories were worse, and in 1932, nobody had enough ink to waste on newspaper stories.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks. This is helpful info for the months ahead. Fasten your saftey belts.