By Claire Bordelon
I made the mistake the other night of tuning into the VMAs. After watching for about 12.5 seconds, I changed the channel, but was still disturbed. What has happened to our culture? This thought has crossed my mind many times, but has really stayed with me over the past few days. It’s also a question posed by many amid the decline of spiritually and intellectually engaged communities. We no longer have the luxury of existing in a world where Christian sensibilities operate in harmony with the cultural landscape of our communities. It’s tempting to respond to this rift by clinging to the Church, and surely this must be a part of our response. However, devoting oneself to the Church doesn’t mean completely disengaging with culture.
There is a trend among some to preserve their faith by rebuking every aspect of the world, putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the threatening culture they so fear. However, this extreme separation adopts a sense of fatalism that is more threatening to the Spiritual vision than anything Miley Cyrus has ever done. If the world is continually in decline, with no hope of conversion or change, we may as well just wait around, absenting ourselves from the public sphere as much as possible until Christ comes to destroy everything.
But we are a people of hope. And being hopeful means engaging with the world (being in it, not of it); as Hans Urs von Baltasar wrote, we must travel with Christ into the darkness of the world. We may insulate ourselves from its destructive force by educating ourselves, praying diligently, and promoting true harbingers of elevated culture (which is what this series will attempt to do). Above all, we persevere in a troubled world, safe in the knowledge that the beautiful, good, and truthful elements of culture for which we advocate will speak to the deepest desires of the human heart and participate in man’s pilgrimage back to Christ and His Church.