As we continue our look at the relationship between the New Evangelization and the Bible, I would like to turn to an article from Frank J. Matera, the Andrews Kelly Ryan Professor of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America. The article is found on the USCCB's Doctrine site, under the Intellectual Tasks section. You can read the whole article here. Below are two selections from this paper. The first assesses the current situation in the West where the Christian narrative is competing against others, both religious and secular. The second section comes from the end of the paper, where Matera makes three points about how Scripture can contribute to the New Evangelization:
"Consider for a moment why movies, literature, art, and pop culture are so important. On the one hand, they entertain us. But on the other, they are always telling us stories that capture our imagination. These stories are important because they help us to understand the story of our lives. And so, when we read novels, listen to music, look at art, or watch movies, we insert ourselves into the story world they create to understand something of the story of our life. Christianity has a compelling narrative inscribed into its architecture, music, and especially its Scriptures. But today we live in a world of competing narratives: secular stories as well as religious ones, narratives that de-construct meaning as well as narratives that create meaning. Whereas formerly Christianity could present its holy men and women as models to be imitated, today we live in a world that models itself after entertainers and sport figures; we live in a world of competing narratives, and all of them are vying for our allegiance."
"First, it reminds us that we must provide people with a narrative that will help them understand the story of their lives. We must provide them with a narrative that explains who they are, what God has done, and what God is doing. We must provide them with Scripture’s story that gives them a profound and abiding sense of hope. Second, the outline of this narrative is already found in the sacred texts we proclaim every week. But the narrative will only come alive if we understand and present it in a credible way. Our task, then, is to understand the narrative anew in light of our time and our place. Third, if we hope to proclaim the gospel in a world of competing narratives, we must proclaim a narrative that enables people to understand the full dimension of salvation: the salvation of the body as well as of the soul, the salvation of the community as well as of the individual, the salvation of creation as well as of humanity. In a word, we must proclaim a vision of salvation that includes the whole of God’s good creation."