My peers knew it. My mentor knew it. My instructor knew it. Deep down, even I knew it.
My originally-proposed project topic on the future of Catholicism was way too broad. Trying to project the future of a religion “with 1.2 billion members in every corner of the world” (as I stated in my previous blog post) is way too difficult, especially in just 10-20 pages. If I did take a crack at it, I’d need at least a book.
I knew I needed to narrow my topic, but how? One possibility I considered was to examine the practice of Catholicism in an area where it is thriving, such as in Asia and Africa, and compare it to an area where it is declining, such as in the West. However, this topic requires analyzing a host of other factors far beyond merely Catholicism, and the Statistician in me just couldn’t bring himself to risk comparing apples to oranges.
Another option was to focus specifically on the future of the Catholic Church in the United States. As I mentioned previously, the Church here in America is struggling to pass on its faith to the next generation of Catholics. Perhaps my project could focus on what many see as the root of the problem–the crisis in the liturgy. That would have been a very good idea…if I hadn’t already written something very similar back in English 225.
Finally, the answer hit me. And how obvious it was! Examine the future of Catholicism in an area I don’t know much about. After all, this is a research paper. And which area? Asia sticks out to me because of a class I took my sophomore year about Christian missionaries in Asia. Since any projection of the future must be strongly rooted in the past and present, the knowledge I learned from this class is an ideal starting point for my research.
So, I will be examining the future of Catholicism in Asia. Funny how the addition of a mere two words can turn an impossibly broad topic into something that is actually doable.