Folk costume Christianity. Credit card Catholicism. Pop culture’s conflict with tradition.

Catholic women living in present-day society are presented with problems both The Virgin Mary and Saint Catherine never had to think twice about, Dr. Nancy Dallavalle said at a campus lecture Wednesday.
Dallavalle, a Religious Studies professor, said that being a public Catholic woman means sticking to your institution even when it appears to be based on consumerism and an appearance merely made for show.

In 1964, Carl Ronner tried to explain to a room of women the difference between expressing the Catholic faith publicly and privately. Though it was a good attempt, this topic spoken by a man always seems to come out as commands of how women should act, said Dallavalle.

Ronner introduced the concept of ‘Folk costume Christianity,’ or the idea that many Christians put on an appearance that they are following their faith, but they are missing the true essence.

Now, 40 years later, Dallavalle stands by this idea, claiming that women each day are falling into this trap. Paired with society’s obsession with consumerism, women feel they can buy into a religion and keep up the appearance of a devout Christian. This ‘Credit card Catholicism’ is ruining the true essence of the religious institution, Dallavalle said. ‘ ‘ ‘
Attending mass just to be seen, putting a large sum in the church’s collection plate, playing the role of dedicated catechism teacher to be photographed in the town paper are all examples of this faulty attempt at worship.

Dallavalle says this new way of Christian life, ‘feeds your inner soul, but leaves it turned inward.’

Although people feel they are playing the part of active members of the church, much of their actions are self-centered rather than an attempt to better the Christian community. This is the product of today’s pop culture which conflicts heavily with the religious experience.

Though there are many problems for Catholic women to deal with presently, a practical concern is focused on young adults. According to Dallavalle, many young women are Catholic in a private sense, but they lack the motivation to get involved in the public institution.

Currently, the upcoming presidential election involves more Catholic ideals than most people recognize. Young women entering the voting booths for the first time are making a decision that will ultimately affect topics such as abortion rights, the death penalty, and other questions of religion and ethics.

Even if it appears modern society conflicts with religion on certain issues, Dallavalle tells women to ask themselves this question, ‘Is my integrity being compromised by my continued religious membership?’

She assures young women that valuing a religious institution but having your own set of ideals is challenging but it ultimately can be achieved.

In a question and answer segment following Dallavalle’s lecture, a woman expressed her upset that bishops are often attempting to silence the voice of religiously involved women. It is difficult to speak out about current events when men are silencing us.’ In response, Dallavalle simply said, ‘Don’t these guys know we all get cable?’

Town of Fairfield resident Kathy Gilbert, excited by the somewhat controversial nature of Dallavalle’s words, said the church might be becoming ‘an archaic institution, creaking like Noah’s ark.’

Though she was impressed by Dallavalle’s take on the situation, Fairfield University sophomore Rosanna Corvino voiced a similar opinion to Gilbert but from the perspective of a young adult.

‘I understand how Professor Dallavalle is attempting to relate Catholicism to young people,’ Corvino said, ‘But I just don’t see how you can actively support anti-Christian ideals like abortion and still consider yourself truly religious.’

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