I really appreciate this discussion and the Wilkin article. What interests me first is how did we come to this particular historical moment? One thing I love about Fr. Giussani is that he knew that we must focus on youth and education, if we care about culture. How do we raise, educate, and form our children? Imagine someone from an alien culture coming here and doing an ethnography -- what occupies our children? What do they see? What do they experience? How do they make sense of it all? This last question is perhaps the most interesting one.
It seems to me that we adults spend very little time with those younger than we are. In other times and places, the teenage years were a time of apprenticeship to a trade, and even younger children worked and lived alongside adults in farms, artisanal, and cottage industries. Now we "farm out" their education, group them into large cohorts, and leave their peers the job of helping them to form their opinions and tastes. These practices are relatively new givens, and I believe that we have to take them into account when we begin to address the question of culture, particularly the formation or transformation of culture. A great deal of awareness is needed -- and careful attention paid to the way in which we educate one another and the young.
This past week I've been reading and rereading the fourth chapter ("The Christian Existence") of "Traces of the Christian Experience" in which Don Giuss writes about culture -- "the new culture" which is characterized by "unremitting activity, unavoidable responsibility, a true 'service' in every moment, every word...; service to the Kingdom, that is, to the plan of the universe by which Christ heads all of reality" (The Journey to Truth is an Experience, page 78). The Christian question par excellence is, "How can I give myself as I am, serve all things, the Kingdom, and Christ evermore?" How we answer this question, each in his or her own way, according to our vocation, in concert, will be the "method" through which a truly Christian culture will grow and thrive. I don't think there's any other way.
And then Father Giussani says, "Simple, lucid, comprehensive sincerity and resolute magnanimity as a Christian concept of our own existence can develop easily and surely only in early youth" (The Journey to Truth is an Experience, page 79).
I really felt I had to post about CGS before I could begin to explore these larger issues along with all of you. I am convinced that we face a crisis in catechesis and in Catholic education (at least in this country -- I don't have enough experience of what is happening in other countries), and that we need to turn our attention to how we raise children and youth in this Christian conception of life. The prevalent model -- Catholic schools and weekend religious education programs -- needs urgent attention. I see CGS and GS as two methods that offer real answers to the problem of culture -- Christian culture -- how to sustain it and how to recuperate it.