Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

4/8/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

If urbanity can be called a virtue, then it's the kind of detachment from one's own taste and values that allows respect to be shown to, and relationships to be formed with, virtually anyone.

This deficiency cannot be blamed on the Left or the Right - we are all to blame for letting politics ruin our manners and damage our capacity for friendship. Aristotle would call this situation a reduction of all friendships to that of "mutual use" rather than pleasure or, much less, the pursuit of the same good.  Mutual use serves to bolster us in our opinions, corroborate whatever it is we believe is right, justify our hatreds, and insure we never change our minds about anything.  Thoughtlessness is the chief characteristic of such society; conversations become regurgitations of the pundits we praise for the purpose of publicly confirming our tribal allegiance.  Social occasions have become so boring they usually descend into recalling the most horrific story from the day's Drudge Report, or its equivalent.

It occurred to me only recently that one of the reasons I wear plus-fours on the golf course is directly related to the crassness I have described above - there's hardly an occasion when someone comments on my offbeat garb who does not turn out to be interesting as well as affable. - Deal W. Hudson on the golf course

It occurred to me only recently that one of the reasons I wear plus-fours on the golf course is directly related to the crassness I have described above - there's hardly an occasion when someone comments on my offbeat garb who does not turn out to be interesting as well as affable. - Deal W. Hudson on the golf course

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/8/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Jack Paar, Judy Garland, talk shows, T.S. Eliot, entertainment culture, crassness, Deal W.Hudsonurbanity, William F Buckley, urbanity, manners, dignity, beauty, Liturgy, culture, enthsuiasm, renewal, reform, respect, Catholic Culture, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - There were nights as a boy I was allowed to stay up late and watch Jack Paar on the Tonight Show which he hosted from 1957-1962. What I re-member most about Paar's style was his warm wit and sly charm but especially his gift for conversation, for creating a rapport and audience with his guests based upon humor, good will, taste, intelligence, and, a word I didn't know at the time, urbanity.

If you aren't old enough, or are too old, to remember Jack Paar take a look at this clip from his famous 1962 interview with Judy Garland. His ability to bring the best out of the fragile and brittle Garland attests to his ability to make anyone comfortable in his presence. (See also this compilation of Paar monologues hosted by Hugh Downs.)

As a high school senior, I started watching William F. Buckley's Firing Line, which started airing in 1966, for similar reasons. Although the conversations were about ideas and politics, Buckley would converse with guests diametrically opposed to his conservatism without the atmosphere being poisoned by rancor - with the exception of Gore Vidal!  Buckley's capacity for friendship across ideological lines, such as with John Kenneth Galbraith, was grounded, I believe, in the respect his showed them, while often cutting their arguments to ribbons. 

Urbanity is a good word for both Paar and Buckley, because their type of detachment was of the urban kind, shared by men and women who have grown accustomed to living, and making friends, at an intersection where many cultures, classes, and ideologies meet. This is not to say that urbanity cannot be found in the suburbs or on the farm, but the need to engage a diversity of viewpoints, ethnicities, and social classes is a necessity of city life.  If urbanity can be called a virtue, then it's the kind of detachment from one's own taste and values that allows respect to be shown to, and relationships to be formed with, virtually anyone.

There's little urbanity in American culture at the present moment - relationships like media, the arts, education, and much entertainment have become politicized, or even worse, made purveyors of ideology. It's liberal vs. conservative, Democrat vs. Republican, pro-abortion vs. anti-abortion, pro-gay marriage vs. anti-gay marriage, pro-immigration vs. anti-immigration, Fox TV fans vs. MSNBC fans, and so forth. Within minutes of conversation with someone met for the first time, those polarities inevitably are mentioned in order to determine just "whose side you are on." If mutual delights were previously mentioned - music, movies, golf - they are promptly forgotten if a divide is revealed.  There are exceptions, but they are becoming, to my eye and ear, fewer and fewer.

Whereas in the 80s, conversations took on the appearance of the Phil Donohue show - with its insipid exploration of feeling states - the paradigm of social interaction nowadays is political talk radio. If  T. S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was re-written the refrain would be, "In the room the women come and go talking of Obama's birth certificate."

This deficiency cannot be blamed on the Left or the Right - we are all to blame for letting politics ruin our manners and damage our capacity for friendship. Aristotle would call this situation a reduction of all friendships to that of "mutual use" rather than pleasure or, much less, the pursuit of the same good.  Mutual use serves to bolster us in our opinions, corroborate whatever it is we believe is right, justify our hatreds, and insure we never change our minds about anything. 

Thoughtlessness is the chief characteristic of such society; conversations become regurgitations of the pundits we praise for the purpose of publicly confirming our tribal allegiance.  Social occasions have become so boring they usually descend into recalling the most horrific story from the day's Drudge Report, or its equivalent.  I was saved from such a scene recently when I was introduced to an elderly Texas oil magnate who was marvelously articulate on the subject of Stetson hats, about which we formed an immediate bond.

It occurred to me only recently that one of the reasons I wear plus-fours on the golf course is directly related to the crassness I have described above - there's hardly an occasion when someone comments on my offbeat garb who does not turn out to be interesting as well as affable.  My 20's golf dress appeals to those whose fields of vision have not been narrowed to the "headline news" or morning stories on Fox & Friends. Only yesterday I exchanged cards with a Mr. Smith, no kidding, from Greenville, SC with a marvelous smile and a few more years than I on his frame, who I will soon be visiting at his home.  I have no idea of his politics or political affiliation - it won't matter.

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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

The Marriage Meme of Francis: What Did the Pope Just Say about Marriage and Family? Watch

Image of Pope Francis presiding at a marriage Liturgy at St Peters.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis embraces the unchangeable truth about marriage as solely between one man and one woman, intended for life, open to life and formative of family as the sole Meme - using the word properly.  That is why you will not read much about the crystal ... continue reading


What is 'vape?' The Oxford Dictionary proclaims it the new word for 2014 Watch

Image of Even while media outlets, health organizations and scientific studies continue to debate the benefits and pitfalls of e-cigarettes,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What does the word "vape" mean? Before anyone jumps to negative conclusions and think that it means something untoward - rest assured: vape is both a noun and verb, according to the Oxford Dictionary. They've gone as far as to proclaim vape as their new word of ... continue reading


Meet the doll that's flipping the world upside down! Watch

Image of Lammily, is a new doll that is proportioned just like the average American 19-year old woman.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A simple art project by a graphic designer has become the most coveted toy for the 2014 Christmas season following its November 19 release. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nickolay Lamm made a doll he named Lammily, who is what Barbie would look like if she was ... continue reading


The Bloody Battle of Tarawa in 20 extraordinary photos Watch

Image of U.S. Marines advance while under fire from Japanese defensive positions.

By Robert Mullen (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Battle of Tarawa was one of the bloodiest and costliest battles to the U.S. in WWII in terms of men lost per time spent in combat. During the 76 hour battle from November 20-23, 1943, on that small Pacific Island, about 1,700 U.S. personnel were killed, and ... continue reading


What's the biggest danger to America? It's not nukes and it isn't terrorism Watch

Image of China is well known to have an extensive cyberwarfare program, and often utilizes civilian hackers as well as its own military personnel.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The head of the National Security Agency revealed to a Congressional panel that China and "probably one or two other" countries have the ability to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructures through cyberwarfare. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Massive collection of Catholic artifacts leave Italy for the first time in 700 years: Their destination? The Big Apple! Watch

Image of For the first time in 700 years, artifacts of St. Francis of Assisi will be removed from Italy. They will be put on display in New York during November, December and January.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An exhibit of medieval manuscripts and papal documents that have close ties with St. Francis of Assisi will be held at the United Nations in New York from November 17 to the 28. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The exhibition is titled "Friar Francis: Traces, ... continue reading


Obama gives amnesty while bracing for next 'surge' of illegals in 2015 Watch

Image of Children in holding facilities during 2014, a year where the surge of illegal children occurred.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Obama has revealed his plans to shield about five million illegal immigrants from deportation, he has federal agencies getting ready for another mass surge of illegal immigrants during the spring of 2015. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As ... continue reading


Obama declares all out war on Republicans over immigration reform Watch

Image of President Obama is expected to give a speech on November 20, outlining his plans to execute immigration reform via executive action.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Even after warnings from sitting and incoming House and Senate Republicans that unilateral action on immigration reform from President Barack Obama would not be tolerated, the president has gone ahead and outlined a plan to relax the rules and regulations of U.S. ... continue reading


Another black eye for Democrats: Obamacare architect makes off with $6 million in taxpayer money Watch

Image of New videos released in November show that the architect behind the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, holds nothing but contempt for the American people.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The architect of the fiasco that has been the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Jonathan Gruber, was paid about $6 million in taxpayer money between 2009 and 2014. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This is about 24 times what an average, full-time American worker would ... continue reading


See the list of MOST FREE countries in the world, the results will surprise you! Watch

Image of Land of the Free no more, Americans report a significant decline in personal freedom under the Obama administration.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

America is supposed to be the land of the free, so Americans themselves might be surprised to see that the United States actually ranks fairly low on the index of personal freedom when compared to other nations. Instead of occupying the number 1 spot, the USA has ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-2, 2-3, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46
31 'When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
20 In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 23rd, 2014 Image

Bl. Miguel Pro
November 23: Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter