Today I saw a post by the vibrant and witty Chelsea of Chelsea Talks Smack that really summarized the attitudes of most (or at least many) "twenty-somethings" toward Catholicism. I'd encourage you to read it; it gives a good sense of the overwhelming mindset of our demographic - how we relate to orthodoxy, and what we mean by tolerance.
Liberal-minded young people take great satisfaction in the virtue of their own tolerance: they accept anyone and everyone for who they are, no matter what they do, accept an infinite plurality of separate but equal truths, and in short, strive to annihilate a system of values which could hurt someone's feelings - which could, God forbid, judge someone. Whether this is primarily a self-defense mechanism, to protect themselves from judgment, especially self-judgment, is a good question for another time.
Instead, I'd like to focus on the prevalent attitude among these twenty-something liberals toward those people who disagree, those people who subscribe to (the liberals would say manufacture) the system of absolute values. Like Catholics.
Chelsea mocked the Catholic practice of praying for God's mercy on the soul of the deceased at a funeral.
Now let's forget the question of whether they're right - we'd be here all day. Instead let's just imagine that some people, doddering old fools though they may be, believe in praying for God's mercy - believe all the Catholic hocus-pocus and mumbo jumbo. Let's imagine they believe that God is all-powerful and all-loving, and that one's relationship with him is all that matters. Won't those poor old fools want to pray to him? Want to pray for his mercy, and pray that their recently deceased loved one can enjoy the glory of his presence forever?
And won't an open-minded, tolerant, compassionate soul, even one who knows the old farts are way off-base, allow them the measure of comfort they gain from their silly rituals? Won't the tolerant, fresh-faced, future of America allow them unbegrudgingly the practice of their separate but equal beliefs?
Because if the young liberal refuses such magnanimity, which I find to be the case more often than not, he or she should take a closer look at the mantle of all-inclusive pan-religious tolerant peaceability he or she is wearing. And he or she might find that it's actually a mask and cape of militant atheism.
In which case, the escape from self-judgment has led to self-delusion, and the courage to face down tradition has led to cowardice which perverts good, tolerant intentions against themselves.