Tag Archives: culture

Church or Coffee Shop: Thoughts on Space and Self-Reflection

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By Javier Soegaard

Wow. Careers are the new religion I guess. (This text from a friend spurred the following reflection. Blame him if you disagree or if your time was wasted.)

I was sitting in a nifty coffee shop along the South Boston Waterfront, just steps from the chapel where I work. Between sending emails and reading the waning pages of GRRM’s A Dance with Dragons, I noticed a cozy group of peers about 12 feet away. They were seated on couches, drinking their fancy latte-things, but unlike most patrons, they were not hard at work on laptops, tablets, and/or smartphones.

Instead, their implements were construction paper and markers.

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Pope Francis’ Weight of Glory and Motu Propio

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By Claire Bordelon

I’m the culture writer. I want to write about books, movies, music, and have the digital equivalent of a Finer Things Club. But Pope Francis’ issuance of two moltu propio has put a hold on that, since it invites a perhaps more authentic look at the role of Mother Church in our daily experience of the world.

As I said in my last post, it is quite easy to distance oneself from the world, but it is also easy to become so bound to her, bogged down in daily life, and even fearful of an in-depth examination of one’s life that we drown out what is often the only authentic voice speaking in our hearts. Pope Francis’ reformations of the Church’s process for granting annulments will no doubt be examined by far greater minds than my own, but it does resonate with the part of me that loves talking about culture because of what it points toward. Those pieces of art and experiences of human talent that resonate within us do so not because of the greatness they have in and of themselves, but because they echo some desire deep inside of us that perhaps we have not even noticed ourselves. As C.S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory:

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

The most beautiful things are the truest; they know the deepest desires of our hearts and feed them with the only sustenance that will satiate us.

Pope Francis’ comments on this revised system are beautiful in that they speak to the desire for clear judgment and authentic mercy, two attributes often absent from what was before a lengthy and uncertain annulment process. In streamlining this process, Pope Francis has not only strengthened the Church’s stance on sacramental marriage, but also reaffirmed that sense in the human heart that the world today would so quickly diminish or deny completely: that we are made for truth, and in truth we find our happiness. The beacon of marriage and all that the Church does to protect this sacred vision of Christ’s divine love speaks to the Church’s great insight into the human heart, speaking words of truth and wisdom even to those who have forgotten how to hear Her.

In the Holy Father’s own words:

The Church, showing itself to the faithful as a generous mother, in a matter so closely linked to the salvation of souls manifests the gratuitous love of Christ by which we were saved.

Into the Darkness: Catholic Culture in a Troubled World

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.

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Christian vs. Secular Music? These 5 Artists Don’t Make That Distinction

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By Sara Knutson

Cat or dog. Blonde or brunette. Coke or Pepsi. For better or worse, we tend to create opposing categories and forget the rabbits, redheads, and Dr. Peppers of the world.

The same is true in music. “Christian or secular” has long been used to categorize artists, but the stark contrast it implies oversimplifies the musical landscape and masks the long history of religiously-informed music.

By that I mean music created by artists who are thinking about life’s biggest questions from a perspective of faith. Their music may or may not reference God and would rarely be defined as part of the praise and worship genre. They may play both religious and secular festivals. They usually avoid Christian record labels. But their themes are undeniably spiritual, often drawing from Scripture.

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Love Without Boundaries

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By Claire McGrath

I just returned from an incredible trip to Belize, where, along with a few other Mount St. Mary’s students, I had the opportunity to experience the culture, paint the Belize Red Cross building, visit some schools and interact with students, and see some of the sights that this beautiful country has to offer. I experienced the richness of Mayan culture (which is just one of the cultures that makes up the people of Belize) and had the chance to do some service. Out of everything that I saw and did during this transformative experience, the people I met had the most lasting impact on me. During my stay in Belize, I had the privilege to meet many Belizeans who welcomed me into their homes and their lives.

The first few days in the country, I met Julio and his wife, who cooked meals for us, told us stories, answered our many questions, taught us about the Mayan culture in the Maya Center Museum that they run, and showed us their small chocolate factory (which, with its one room and few small machines, isn’t quite the sort of factory we are accustomed to). Ms. Amelia and her daughter-in-law Olga cooked a delicious meal for us in their simple but welcoming home. Reyes, a Mayan man living with his family in the village of San Antonio, allowed us to stay in his guest house, and we went to his home to dance and enjoy his marimba playing with other locals of the village. The next day, after eating a wonderful breakfast cooked by Reyes’ wife, Jenni, he took us to see his cacao farm, and then we sat around the table in Jenni’s kitchen as she taught us to grind cacao and made us a cacao drink. One of my fondest memories of the trip is sitting in Jenni’s kitchen, chatting with her and the other trip participants. It reminded me of being at home, sitting around the dining room table, chatting with friends and family.

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What Shopping Malls Can Tell Us about the Future of Hispanic Ministry

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In a recent TIME Magazine article, “Mercado of America,” a successful Mexican-American businessman has turned run-down and depleted shopping malls into commercial and cultural centers of activity in the South and Southwest by targeting the local Hispanic population. Beyond stocking his malls with stores catering to that demographic, José de Jesús Legaspi has also targeted culture. Shopping becomes a distinctly familial event, as young and old alike venture to “La Gran Plaza” for the day. In each mall, a Mercado: “[a] three-story bazaar packed with small storefronts selling everything from piñatas to PlayStations.” While parents and children shop and haggle in their native language (often Spanish), older generations will find places in the mall to sit, talk, read, and sleep. And since this place is designed to be a one-stop family shop, a wide variety of needs can be met, which means storefronts containing anything from grocery stores to DMV’s.

Legaspi’s model seems to have successfully resonated with Hispanics in America. However, there are already signs that this cultural reality is changing and morphing into something ever more in-line with mainstream American culture. This change, not surprisingly, is being spearheaded by the youth. TIME notes that “most growth in the Hispanic population in the U.S. is now being driven by children born here rather than by migrants.” This means that young Hispanics are more likely to speak, eat, act, and shop like mainstream American culture. For Legaspi and his business, this means that what is working today in his malls, will not work one day. And that “one day” may be sooner than we realize.

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Shameless Self-Promotion: Lumen et Vita Conference

This coming Saturday, Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry will host its Lumen et Vita Conference: “The Gospel and Contemporary Culture.”

Presenters include, in the 11:15 Session:

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Matt Janeczko, OFM Cap: “John Courtney Murray and Abortion: Rethinking Contemporary Paradigms.” Respondent: Chelsea Piper

Craig Ford: “Metanoia and the Missionary Aesthetic of Joy: How Pope Francis Won the Heart of the LGBT Mainstream in America.” Respondent: Elyse Raby

(Yes, that’s me! Also a note, Craig Ford is a heck of a smart guy too – a lot smarter than me.)

Here is the full schedule:

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