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.
- 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.
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.)
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.