Monday, March 30, 2009

Culture, politics, and society

The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed that for conservatives it is axiomatic "that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society." As one might suspect, it is an atomic truth of liberalism that politics is more fundamental and important to society than culture. The worst outcome, that which began in the late 1960s, is the politicization of culture; culture co-opted in the service of politics. I think this distinction helps because it shows how deeply-rooted liberalism is in the U.S. and why there is a persistent attempt to banish religion from the public square. Questions about what such a conservative view would mean for our initial decision to invade Iraq in the first place aside, how many times have we heard that in Iraq what we need is a political, not a military, solution? Have you ever heard that what we need is cultural solution? No! Why? Because religion, which is the foundation of culture, is seen as the obstacle to unifying and sustaining society. Nonetheless, we must ask, despite being the only predominantly Arab country with a Shi'a majority, how many Iraqis, especially leaders, actually listen to the Grand Ayatollah Sistani? Let me answer that one too- Not many!

Too often the trouble with religion is that religious leaders and people become liberal in the sense that they begin to seek salvation through politics. The Holy Father understands the priority of culture and how human culture, especially high culture, is not really possible without religion. He also sees the necessary link between Christianity and the advancement of western culture. Stated simply, the loss of faith leads to the coarsening and ultimate demise of culture. Msgr. Giussani also understood this very deeply and sought to communicate this in everything he taught. It is important that those of us who share Giussani's charism listen and learn, both from Giussani and the Holy Father, as well to and from Fr. Carrón.


clairity said...

So well said. It seems that as soon as we got the embarrassment of Bush out of the way with this election, all we're doing is politics. As if it has changed a thing in 30 years.

Fred said...

ah I felt a bit out of it for not getting into the political fray much lately. And now I see that it's not just shell shock from the election but a return to the cultivation that gets neglected during the battle.

Dcn Scott Dodge said...

"a return to the cultivation that gets neglected during the battle"

I appreciate your return and Sharon's constant emphasis on culture. I'm political enough for the three of us!