Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/22/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Whatever way Catholics address the challenge of living in this culture, it should be focused on bearing fruit rather than accepting barrenness.

To simply accept the culture as being invulnerable to Catholic prayer and action is both cynical and ignorant. The history of the Church testifies over and over to the impact believers have on the course of events and the shape of the culture.  The cynicism, of course, is merely a pretext for either sloth- indifference to seeking what is good - or cowardice, in unwillingness to seek the good in the face of danger.

Over my now 30 years of being Catholic, I've paid special attention to the various ways Catholics engage the culture. In 1984 I entered the Catholic Church having gradually given up the Southern Baptist faith I embraced as a college student at the University of Texas.

Over my now 30 years of being Catholic, I've paid special attention to the various ways Catholics engage the culture. In 1984 I entered the Catholic Church having gradually given up the Southern Baptist faith I embraced as a college student at the University of Texas.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/22/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: culture, cultural.culture of life, civilization of love, politics, faithful citizenship, Catholics, moral coherence, rights language, declaration, An American Conversion, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Over my now 30 years of being Catholic, I've paid special attention to the various ways Catholics engage the culture. In 1984 I entered the Catholic Church having gradually given up the Southern Baptist faith I embraced as a college student at the University of Texas.

As I recounted in my memoir, An American Conversion  (Crossroad, 2003), one of the primary reasons I was attracted to the Catholic Church was the pervasive fear of culture and higher learning I had experienced as a Southern Baptist minister.  The Catholic faith and tradition promised a richer understanding of the interstices of religion and culture, grounded in the historic syntheses achieved by St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dante, St. Thomas More, John Henry Newman, Leo XIII, Christopher Dawson, G. K. Chesterton, Jacques Maritain, and Hans Urs von Balthasar, to name only those who influenced me.

Alas, I found that what I discovered by reading my way into the Church I met on the ground only rarely - such as with the late Cardinal Avery Dulles. No doubt it was very foolish of me to expect the grassroots piety and practice of American Catholics to resemble the idealized Catholicism I had constructed from my years of study.  Although the suspicion of culture is not as bone deep among Catholics as it is among Southern Baptists (and that is slowly changing) there is a palpable struggle that manifests itself through various forms.  The five models below are an attempt at capturing some of the basic postures of American Catholics toward the culture.

    1.    The Wall: Among what are often called "conservative Catholics" the guiding principle is to protect the family from harmful influences of the secular world. A culture is created inside the home, among a small circle of friends, usually connected to a parish and school, that serves as a Catholic sub-culture in which traditional piety is observed and traditional values are taught.

    2.    The Filter: Catholics who are a bit uncomfortable with establishing a separate sub-culture attempt to operate as filters both to themselves and their family members. They see the culture as needing to be addressed, but through a Catholic lens determining the beneficial and demeaning.

    3.    The Acceptance: These Catholics accept the culture as a given, the place where we must live our lives, a place with an unstoppable trajectory of its own. Their faith offers them personal comfort in a confusing, and often bruising, world.  They avoid asking big questions about the culture or making dramatic gestures to change it. This model probably represents the largest group of Catholics.

    4.    The Infiltration: These "stealth" Catholics, without declaring themselves, seek to change the culture from within by reforming institutions, building families, communities, and creating a network of friendship and associations that can gradually transform the culture. 

    5.    The Witness: Finally, there are Catholics who seek to transform the culture without concealing the fact that they have religious intent. They are evangelizers, witnesses, albeit in a Catholic mode, and self-consciously look for opportunities to prudently challenge unbelief, answer outright scorn, and dispel meaninglessness.

Each of these models, except for the Acceptance, have strengths that make them a reasonable way of dealing with the challenge of being an authentic Catholic in a culture growing more alien and hostile in the 21st century. Individual Catholics find their way according to their own lights and in concord with their own skills. 

I wouldn't be surprised if some readers see themselves as having inhabited more than one of these models at various times in their lives.  When our children are young, the Wall has strong appeal, as the children grow, and we grow older with them, certain aspects of the other models may become more appealing. 

To simply accept the culture as being invulnerable to Catholic prayer and action is both cynical and ignorant. The history of the Church testifies over and over to the impact believers have on the course of events and the shape of the culture.  The cynicism, of course, is merely a pretext for either sloth- indifference to seeking what is good - or cowardice, in unwillingness to seek the good in the face of danger.

These are two vices that Catholics often manifest whenever election day comes around. Acceptance is a kind of modern Manicheism that regards the world as irredeemably fallen, making a person's interior spiritual life nothing more than a refuge. But, "by their fruits ye shall know them," spoke our Lord (Matthew 7:16); thus, whatever way Catholics address the challenge of living in this culture, it should be focused on bearing fruit rather than accepting barrenness.

© Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2016
Universal:
Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.
Evangelization: Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.



Comments


More U.S.

St Augustine on a Personal Relationship with Jesus Watch

Image of St Augustine

By Deacon Keith Fournier

But we too can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ's Heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we ... continue reading


Five-year-old invents 'Kindness Day' Watch

Image of Five-year-old boy treats officers to a lunch from Subway.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Five-year-old William Evertz Jr. saved up his allowance for several months in hopes of purchasing a Power Wheels police car but realized his money would better benefit others. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Wednesday, the Winslow Police Department in ... continue reading


Two nuns found murdered in Mississippi home Watch

Image of Police have found two nuns slain in a Mississippi home.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Two Catholic nuns have been found dead in their home after they didn't show up for their work. The pair worked as nurse practitioners out of state. Police are investigating the deaths of two Catholic nuns after they missed work. The pair were found together in a ... continue reading


1 city, 2 days, 52 OD's Watch

Image of Opioids in the United States have appeared in the form of elephant tranquilizers.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Heroin laced with carfentanil, the most potent commercial opioid known to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine, is being dealt on streets across the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to CNN, carfentanil significantly slows breathing and is ... continue reading


The shocking NEW reason why young people are leaving church Watch

Image of The youth are leaving the church, but why?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

It's a surprising find, but it's also true. Americans are giving up on God. A Pew survey reveals that half of the people who have quit going to church no longer believe in God. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Nearly a quarter of the nation no longer attends ... continue reading


Massachusetts nun loses rosary to lesbian couple Watch

Image of Lesbian muggers rob nun of her rosary beads.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Sister at the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth convent was mugged by a lesbian couple, who left with the nun's rosary. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the <a ... continue reading


'Right Before I Die': Photographer reveals heartbreaking truth on taboo topic Watch

Image of One photographer captured people's dreams as they drew closer to death (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Photographer Andrew George decided to interview and photograph people close to death for a project titled "Right Before I Die." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - George's project earned an exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and he explained the ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier: Jesus Walks with Us on the Dusty Road of Life Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We can learn a vital lesson from this account in the Gospel of Luke; one which can radically reorient our entire life. Jesus is always with us. He accompanies us on the Way of our daily life because He IS the Way. (John 14:6) But, we need our eyes to be opened. ... continue reading


Marian procession to commemorate birthday of Los Angeles Watch

Image of Los Angeles will hold a Marian procession and a votive Mass for the city's 235th anniversary.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The city of Los Angeles will get a Marian procession to mark its 235th anniversary on August 27. The city is named after Our Lady. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The city of Los Angeles has a very long name. Officially, the city is known as, "The Town of Our ... continue reading


Government finally admits truth about Area 51 Watch

Image of A truck transports a mysterious, covered object to Area 51 under tight security.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Daily Mail has posted pictures of the mysterious fleet of planes that flies workers into Area 51. Area 51 is the secret Air Force facility that is rumored to house alien technology. The existence of the base was only recently acknowledged. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
17 My child, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11
4 Sing to God, play music to his name, build a road for the Rider of the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 14:1, 7-14
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone to share a meal in ... Read More

Reading 2, Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24
18 What you have come to is nothing known to the senses: not a blazing ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 28th, 2016 Image

St. Augustine of Hippo
August 28: St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers ... Read More