A friend of mine sent me the following New York Times article on the phenomenon of Hispanics losing their religion as they assimilate to life in the United States. The article closed with the following passage, which, even in an article full of thought-provoking passages, found disturbing:
Jesus Cerritos, a 37-year-old construction worker who immigrated from Mexico 18 years ago, said he spent his weekends running errands, going to Wal-Mart and watching television. His children, ages 11 and 9, tell him that church is boring and that they have no desire to go, but Mr. Cerritos has mixed feelings.
“Here, the people get more materialistic,” Mr. Cerritos said. “The culture here is really barren. There’s no traditions.”
If he were still living in his hometown of Guanajuato, he said, “I would probably go to church.”
The culture is indeed barren, Mr. Cerritos. I know how assimilation works, and not all of it is bad. Learning the language, getting an education, taking advantage of the entrepreneurial atmosphere that makes our nation a great place are opportunities as well as responsibilities. It would be no different than learning at least a modicum of German if I were to live in Germany, as I did for more than three years.
What is not good is losing sight of the transcendent values germane to the core of one’s identity. As a Christian, I must confess that it is quite easy to lose sight of the eternal during the day, when I can easily become more concerned with returning calls, buying groceries, doing laundry, studying, and a myriad quotidian trivialities that can choke the Spirit of God inside of me.