So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Arming up in the culture war: "Engaging persuasion rather than culture war combativeness."

There is a war, a culture war, whether we care to acknowledge it or not. Some contend, and reasonably so, that our approach to waging this war requires a kind of tact that facilitates engagement without surrendering the truth of our position. Fr. Raymond de Souza, a nationally ranked and eloquent commentator on faith and community, edits Convivium, a journal of religion and public life. The point he makes regarding engagement merits careful consideration:
North American life hums with the assumption that every private concern is now fit material for public debate and social action—every concern, that is, except for religious faith. National columnist Fr. Raymond de Souza, as editor of Convivium, pushes back on this marginalization of religion, though from a posture of engaging persuasion rather than culture war combativeness.
No one should seek to be merely combative for the sake of winning arguments. Yes, we should try to win arguments. We should do so by:
  • modelling Christ;
  • respecting the dignity of our opponents;
  • insisting on freedom of speech and freedom of religion and conscience;
  • appealing to fairness and justice rooted in the natural law;
  • inviting others to join us in the search for deeper understanding;
  • identifying, evaluating and correcting error by presenting facts, i.e., proposing alternatives that are true and convincing;
  • choosing language which is engaging, accurate and fair;
  • creating additional opportunities for follow up discussions.
The above is predicated on us knowing our own story. That is, the Catholic story. Without knowledge and diligent practice of who and what we are and why we believe what we (should) believe, no one will take our proposals seriously. Catholics who are faithful to the Magisterium are the most effective witnesses to the Catholic legacy. Foremost, we must invite and allow the Holy Spirit to inform everything we do in service to our fellow men and women. We can do nothing without God.
NOVEMBER 18, 2014
Why Culture War is Unavoidable 
by JAMES KALB (excerpt from Crisis Magazine)
Every culture has an orientation determined by basic commitments and views on what is most important and therefore sacred. A society needs to hold such things in common if it is to survive and remain functional in times of stress. They differ from society to society: Soviet culture was based on the sacredness of the Party, Catholic culture on that of Christ and the Church, and revolutionary French culture on that of the Nation and the Rights of Man.

The need for a sacred focus that all members of a society are expected to accept and defer to makes culture war inevitable when there are enough people who disagree strongly on what that focus should be. Examples of such situations include the struggle between prophets and polytheists in ancient Israel, and the struggles between Christians and pagans in the Roman Empire and early medieval Europe. (The Catholic struggle against atheistic secularism is a struggle of biblical scale.)

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There is outright use of force: the Roman persecutions, the Muslim invasions, the various crusades (defensive wars waged ineffectively against invaders who persecuted Christian minorities), the military phases of the Protestant revolt, and the persecutions and martyrdoms of this century and the last. And that leads us to concerns raised by the very concept of a culture war. Wars of religion have a bad name. They are fought over the most basic issues, so they easily take on an unlimited quality and destroy the goods they intend to advance. Even so, there is nothing odd about a struggle over what basic conception of man and the world should orient our life together. Such struggles, however dangerous, can’t be abolished without abolishing man. (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.)

Liberalism claimed it could do so by separating politics from religion. We could all follow our own opinions and engage in mutual persuasion while joining together in support of a political system that put ultimate issues aside and concentrated on practical matters on which all could agree. The claim hasn’t panned out, since ultimate issues matter practically. Liberal societies, like others, have a conception of the sacred that they promote through official catechesis and propaganda on the one hand and suppression of dissident views on the other. The forms of suppression are mild, in line with the general mildness of modern social disciplines, but they make up for that with a comprehensiveness of application made possible by modern social organization. (Liberalism, in the 21st Century sense, is a religion of man, a false religion.) So instead of laws against blasphemy and religious tests for office we have laws against what is called hate speech and politically correct demands such as compulsory “celebration of diversity.” (Pakistan and Canada are not so very different, eh?) The purpose and effect are the same.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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