Culture Transcends Politics


Head…


Cultural Marxists have left no stone unturned and declared most American institutions and traditions to be racist, sexist or transphobic - including: The National Anthem, ethnic foods and outfits taken from other cultures, Christianity, binary genders, music, statues, history, and yes, even math.[1] For the Left, ‘Everything is politics.’[2]


Politics have not only become all-encompassing but antagonistic. One telling definition of ‘politics’ is the ‘competition between… interest groups or individuals for power.[3] Politics is no longer a striving for the common good, but a fight for what is mine. The other is the enemy. Politics becomes a zero-sum game: one side wins while the other side loses.[4]


Neither society can survive such an approach to politics, nor will any individual be truly satisfied by it. Dave Rubin wisely penned, ‘When we fail to live a life outside politics, we become a slave to it.’[5] There is much more to life than a political struggle. And while a constructive politics plays an important role in society, it cannot be everything.


So, what do we do? We need to rediscover the reality and the importance of culture.


What is culture?


‘Cardinal Ratzinger explains that culture is ‘an attempt to understand the world and the existence of man within it… This understanding is meant to show us how to go about being human.[6]


We want to know who we are, why we exist, and what our purpose is. Answers to such questions transcend everyday practicalities; they seek for a meaning beyond the economic, political or social questions. We seek the transcendent values of truth, goodness and beauty, which in turn are signposts of the one who is all-true, all-good, and all-beautiful. We ultimately seek God. However, our first experience of these values comes from everyday experience, ‘To think of beauty, goodness and justice, one must first have the experience and an image of a particular thing – the beauty of a rainbow, the goodness of a mother, the justice of a father.’[7]


Therefore, if the question is purpose, then culture is the multi-faceted response. For the Catholic author John Senior, ‘culture is integral… [and] organic… all its parts – music, painting, literature, science, politics, philosophy, religion – move and work as one.’[8] These parts of culture only inspire when they contain elements of truth, goodness, and beauty. Otherwise, they never elevate us above the mundane; and we know that we were made for more.


How do we seek out and cultivate our appreciation of the true, the good, and the beautiful? Rooted in the approach of John Senior, I recommend:

  • Read great Western literature and poetry. In them you will find a rich patrimony of human and spiritual values.

  • Listen to classical music.

  • Go to art museums, especially ones with classical works of art.

  • Have frequent contact with nature and allow its beauty to inspire you. Disconnect from the distractions and superficiality of urban life. Experience God’s creation in its most pure form.[9]

  • Watch good movies and documentaries that inform and inspire.

  • Play an instrument.

Ultimately, man’s ‘intellect and will cannot be satisfied with anything less than a personal relationship with God.’[10] However, culture is both the preparation for and the expression of such a relationship. Culture discovers man’s transcendent dignity, and it is in that dignity and calling that he recognizes his inherent worth and that of his fellow man.


That is something worth preserving.


Fr. John Bullock, LC

TKC!


[1] Is math racist? New course outlines prompt conversations about identity, race in Seattle classrooms - Chicago Tribune [2] Thomas Mann [3] Politics | Definition of Politics by Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com) [4] https://dwightlongenecker.com/covington-catholic-rage-and-civil-war/ [5] Dave Rubin, Don’t Burn This Book: Thinking for Yourself in an Age of Unreason, chapter 10. [6] Fr. Francis Bethel, OSB, John Senior and the Restoration of Realism. Merrimack, New Hampshire: Thomas More College Press, 2016, 197. [7] Fr. Francis Bethel, OSB, John Senior and the Restoration of Realism… , 137. [8] Fr. Francis Bethel, OSB, John Senior and the Restoration of Realism… , 84. [9] Fr. Francis Bethel, OSB, John Senior and the Restoration of Realism… , 190.212. [10] Fr. Francis Bethel, OSB, John Senior and the Restoration of Realism… , 199.

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