Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Life in the Kingdom of Whatever

 Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., looks at where we are as a culture and how we got here. His Grace explains:

"In the United States, our political tensions flow from our cultural problems.  Exceptions clearly exist, but today our culture routinely places rights over duties, individual fulfillment over community, and doubt over belief.  In effect, the glue that now holds us together is our right to go mall-crawling and buy more junk.  It's hard to live a life of virtue when all around us, in the mass media and even in the lives of colleagues and neighbors, discipline, restraint, and self-sacrifice seem irrelevant."

But Chaput's article is not another lament.  He quickly veers off productively, digging back to the historical sources of our cultural and spiritual malaise in order to arrive at a fresh vision.  Summarizing a book by Notre Dame historian Brad Gregory, Chaput explains:

"...today's relativism and cult of the consumer — what he (Brad Gregory) ironically calls "the goods life" — have roots that run centuries deep.  He wastes no time on nostalgia for a golden age that never existed.  But he does show with riveting clarity that in the sixteenth century, Protestant Reformers unintentionally set in motion certain ideas that eventually enabled today's radical self-centeredness."

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