The Culture War: To recognize evil, first know good.

Note: Blog Stats indicate many readers of this blog click on the post about the Inquisition. There is a fine new article on the Inquisition by Fr. Brian Van Hove, S.J. at Ignatius Insight, here.

Note: New column at Inside on the how the U.N. robs the poor is here

I’ve been thumbing through Peter Kreeft’s How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis.

Each time I revisit this book I am struck by some pithy observation that jerks me up short with an “of course!” exclamation. This time the point was: When we sin, we do the devil’s work. (p.30) –and by extension that to recognize evil, one must know the good.

Does that stop you in your tracks? We too often think of our sins as minor failings. We think of it as simply “falling short of the mark.” We are out of the habit of thinking of sin as an objective evil. But where I sin, I aid Satan. (“He who is not with me is against me.”)

It seems to me that the culture war is more than bringing morals (Not “values”) back to the public square. Hard reality check: Most people, including Christians, no longer know what is good. They know longer know the WHO who is Good. No wonder the culture war is such a sticky morass.

To win this war in whatever corner of the public square in which we fight, we must first show others what good looks like. IN a culture where the “good” is “the freedom to do my own thing” too few know what an actual tangible good is!

How to do this? First of all, sin less. Don’t “go easy on yourself” when you “sin a little bit.” Then our own attitudes and behavior will be demonstrably different. People will notice.

Next, I think, we must make beautiful things. Grow a beautiful and productive garden. Promote good cultural events–art, music, ballet. Form a book club and introduce others to great literature. Organize a movie night once a month for friends and family. Discuss themes of sin and grace, good and evil, acts and their consequences. Sponsor symposiums on topics of interest–perhaps about local history, or local heroes. Help build healthy community identity.

Visit the ill, the elderly, the lonely. Impress upon them that they are part of the community still–that their prayers are what helps sustain those at work, school, home. A neighbor invites women recently released from jail to come to her home to cook and share a dinner and a movie. Reinstate a family Sunday and invite other families for some games.

Our every engagement need not be overtly “religious.” Christians can evangelize by spreading what is truly beautiful. We can build a taste for, a desire for the “higher things.”


5 Responses

  1. I like his Snakebite Letters too.

  2. The situation is similar with music. One can recognize rock music as the trash it is when only after he’s immersed himself in the heights of music, e.g., Palestrina, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. Obviously there’s a danger in tasting of the heights, since one can never view what most accept as wonderful as in fact wonderful.

  3. I really agree with all that you say here. Bringing beauty and kindness to the world around us can open otherwise closed hearts to the faith.

  4. Posted on May 7, 2008 by properlyscared

    Note: Blog Stats indicate many readers of this blog click on the post about the Inquisition. There is a fine new article on the Inquisition by Fr. Brain Van Hove, S.J. at Ignatius Insight, here.

    Kindly change “Brain” to “Brian”…………thanks!

  5. oh, I don’t know, Fr. Van Hove, it seems to me that you are a Brain -y Brian!

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