View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What is Catholic Culture?

The folks over at the Catholic Culture site are running an article about restoring Catholic Culture ("Restoring a Catholic Culture: Where Do We Start?").

Philip Lawler, commenting on the recent election and the failure of Catholics to vote as a block to support the Culture of Life, notes that we need to live as Catholics: "What if there were enough of us striving to live an authentically Catholic life so that our neighbors couldn't help but notice? Inevitably they would notice, too, if there was something a bit different about the way we lived: something distinctive, something attractive, something clearly in keeping with the teachings of the Church. We need to bear witness to the power of Christian principles, to act as the yeast within our society."

He says we need to replace secular hedonism with Christian humanism.

And he points out that the Catholic Culture site will be attempting to help Catholics challenge the world.

We'll help serious Catholics identify the people who are proposing helpful new initiatives, consistent with Catholic principles, in the fields of education, family life and law, health care, immigration, and foreign policy-- not to mention the pro-life movement. We'll call the attention of loyal Catholics to the books and magazines they should be reading, and the other web sites they could be visiting. We'll help them to identify others-- individuals and families-- who live nearby and share their concerns. In short, the Catholic Culture site will serve as a meeting-place and resource center for thoughtful Catholics interested in building a quiet, productive "counter-culture" in our society.

He give some suggestions that I won't go into here. He expresses them far better than I can. And I am not here to promote the site.

But I do have my own ideas about culture - separate from the pro-life and political battles that seem to the only part of "Catholic Culture" that gets attention.

Lawler is right - we need to be a leaven - but that leaven has to extend throughout all of our cultural actions.

What movies do we go to? What periodicals do we subscribe to? What television shows do we watch? What books do we read? What music do we listen to?

Those are all part of culture. When we say we watch a show that promote promiscuity, for example, what message are we conveying about what it means to be Catholic? That we are just like everyone else and we act just like everyone else? What is that doing to our own view of the world and faith? How are they affecting our own moral judgment?

I'd like to see us support and create a CATHOLIC culture. Not as a way to separate ourselves from the world, but as a way to be an example.

As consumers, we need to choose books, television shows, movies, music and more that present views and ideas compatible with Catholicism. We need to encourage artists who try to create with faith in mind - and even better, Catholic ones. If we have talents, we need to use them to promote the Catholic vision.

I'm not talking here about theological treatises - though that might be fine if that is your inclination - or dull tracts and bland poetry and well-meaning but boring movies. The work has to be aesthetically pleasing and intellectually stimulating. But some of that is out there - we just need to use it.

Teens and pre-teens, for example, should forget Twilight. Read and view the Chronicles of Narnia, for example. Or Lord of the Rings. Those classics are better for any of us than occult-steeped romances.

For Christmas this year I gave each of my daughters (ages 20-25) copies of Chesterton's biography of St. Francis, sharing with them two of my own Catholic passions, but not attempting to shove it down their throats.

I don't know if they will read them. I hope they do. Maybe they will - when they are ready.

But the books are there, waiting.

Imagine if every Catholic in the U.S. received gifts that might plant seeds of Catholic Culture?

I plan to write more on this ...


Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

But the books are there, waiting.

A good priest gave me a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1996. It sad unread on my bookshelf until 2001, at which time I devoured it. So there is a precedent ...

10:51 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Here's a bit of irony.

Clare and her husband, Matt, came over tonight to open gifts (they had been at his grandparents' in Pennsylvania on Christmas Day).

Clare gave me a book she thought I'd like - Chesterton's St. Francis.

I roared with laughter, then she opened her gift and began to laugh as well.

11:00 PM  

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