More on culture and evangelization

Rod Dreher blogs about Russell Shaw’s January 27th CWR piece, “Culture and Evangelization”:

The force of the mainstream cultural current is so strong that it often seems the only communities that successfully resist it are those who take a rock-hard communal stance against it. What Shaw is warning against is a bunker mentality. I think he’s right to do so. One reason that it took so long to deal with the problem of clerical sexual abuse is because generations of Catholics had been taught tribalist habits from the immigrant church experience. I imagine that this is one thing that Shaw has in mind. One of the dangers of a tight-knit community is that it becomes more difficult to point to wrongdoing within that community, because many of its members see that as threatening the cohesion of the whole. This is not just true of Catholics; it’s true of all human communities.

Anyway, how do we strike a balance between being in the world but not of it? Some conservative-minded folks I’ve known adopt the strategy of denying that there’s a problem with the mainstream culture. It has seemed to me that they do this because the challenges are too great to think about … so they choose not to think about them. That is, they understand, and will say, that we do live in a degraded culture, one that is aggressively hostile to conservative values — but they seem to have effectively surrendered their children to this culture. On the other hand, you have the bunker brigades, of which Shaw writes, people who are afraid of everything, and who may instill their children with this same rigid fear. Last year, I was accompanying friends on a visit that took us to the home of a conservative Catholic homeschooling family. It struck me that there was only one piece of art in the house that wasn’t devotional, and no books on any shelf (that I could see) that weren’t either devotional or written with a heavily Catholic focus. The impression I got was that this is an airless, rigid place. I could certainly have been wrong, but the impression was of a bunker. I’m sure that had I talked to the parents, we would have agreed on most things regarding the threat the mainstream culture poses to our religious and moral values. But we have significantly different responses to it, our families.

Read Dreher’s entire post on The American Conservative website.


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About Carl E. Olson 1120 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.