Lots of people wonder why young people leave the church. Most people that look at this question ask those that left why they chose to leave. They then analyze the data, and select reasons that seem satisfactory to them. Secular or liberal-minded folks conclude that the church is too backward on social issues like sexual orientation and the status of women. The church needs to “change” to “get with the times.” Progressive-minded folks conclude that the church is not accessible enough. More music, louder music! Create great social opportunities. Invite even the lukewarm to participate in everything. Above all, people ought not to feel judged or like there are rules they ought to abide by to be welcome. Maybe then people will come back.
My favorite movie about Jesuits (thus far) is The Mission. It’s got beautiful music, sweeping scenery and a simple, sad, but hopeful story about missionary priests who are willing to die for their faith. I like unambiguous stories that give me a clear side to root for. About two and a half years ago, I got to read Silence, a masterpiece by Shusaku Endo. Silence is a grim and complex book/film. The film adaptation is not the sort of feel good Christian movie that pastors urge their congregations to go see.
Silence was made by the acclaimed director Martin Scorcese. Even though you may not have heard of it (it was beloved by critics but a box office flop) it was a labor of love and packed with talented, well known actors. You really owe it to yourself to see it. It’s beautiful, thoughtful and uncomfortable; and the main character is deeply flawed.