Contra Mundum
© Contra Mundum
About Contra Mundum, a study of the conditions of Christian culture.

About

Christianity lived is culture

Christianity and culture are not two different things. Christianity is religion—a pattern of living in relation to ultimate loyalties and norms—and in living the acts done and things made take up an orientation to that religion and according to it are judged to build up life or to be deviant. According to T. S. Elliot: “The first important assertion is that no culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion: according to the point of view of the observer the culture will appear to be the product of the religion, or the religion the product of culture.” (Notes Toward the Definition of Culture) As religions make claims about what is true and how people should act that are contrary to those of other religions, cultural conflict is inevitable, and the fact of the relation of culture to religion in no way exempts either from censure. Because culture is life and life is lived in particular circumstances, culture is also molded by geography with is implied local resources and the heritage of the past with its built up achievements, attitudes and ingrained preferences; the list is endless. This gives a fascinating variety to the study of culture and sometimes a frustrating opacity, not only to outsiders but sometimes to the self-understanding of its members. Elliot gives three conditions for culture: “organic … structure, such as will foster the hereditary transmission”, “that a culture should be analysable, geographically, into local cultures” and “the balance of unity and diversity in religion.” When I first became interested in the problem of Christianity and culture it was considered both an eccentricity and a neglect of serious Christian concerns. But then the youth revolt of the 1960s was upon us which scandalized and baffled the older generation in the churches who assumed that their folkways were Christian culture as far as culture mattered, and who could not see what there was to revolt against. Within a decade the inherited taboos were swept away and new patterns in dress, speech and entertainment had taken over. Since then much of the standards of personal morality have given way, not so much in the official church teaching but in common practice. But now a concentrated assault on Christian culture is upon us in which the resources of all institutions (those of the state, all media, universities, commercial enterprises, foundations and even the churches themselves) are mobilized in the attack with an ever more open hatred. This attack also is rooted in religion. Today everyone is forced to be concerned about Christianity and culture. This does not mean that they know how to think about it. Their biggest problem is the first of Elliot’s conditions: organic structure, such as will foster the hereditary transmission. This is amplified by the church traditions that see their status as strangers and wayfarers in the world as a mandate to abstain from the organic structures necessary for culture, or at least not think about them. But this option is impossible if one wants to go on living; just look at the Amish; no one has created a more total organic structure than they did in their effort to avoid life in the world. So herein look for analysis of the three conditions of culture, but especially the first. Contra Mundum is not related to any institution, foundation, church or commercial entity. Opinions expressed by the writers are solely their own and may be and sometimes are contrary those of the editors. contramundum@contra-mundum.org castellano@contra-mundum.org
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About

Christianity lived is culture

Christianity and culture are not two different things. Christianity is religion—a pattern of living in relation to ultimate loyalties and norms—and in living the acts done and things made take up an orientation to that religion and according to it are judged to build up life or to be deviant. According to T. S. Elliot: “The first important assertion is that no culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion: according to the point of view of the observer the culture will appear to be the product of the religion, or the religion the product of culture.” (Notes Toward the Definition of Culture) As religions make claims about what is true and how people should act that are contrary to those of other religions, cultural conflict is inevitable, and the fact of the relation of culture to religion in no way exempts either from censure. Because culture is life and life is lived in particular circumstances, culture is also molded by geography with is implied local resources and the heritage of the past with its built up achievements, attitudes and ingrained preferences; the list is endless. This gives a fascinating variety to the study of culture and sometimes a frustrating opacity, not only to outsiders but sometimes to the self-understanding of its members. Elliot gives three conditions for culture: “organic … structure, such as will foster the hereditary transmission”, “that a culture should be analysable, geographically, into local cultures” and “the balance of unity and diversity in religion.” When I first became interested in the problem of Christianity and culture it was considered both an eccentricity and a neglect of serious Christian concerns. But then the youth revolt of the 1960s was upon us which scandalized and baffled the older generation in the churches who assumed that their folkways were Christian culture as far as culture mattered, and who could not see what there was to revolt against. Within a decade the inherited taboos were swept away and new patterns in dress, speech and entertainment had taken over. Since then much of the standards of personal morality have given way, not so much in the official church teaching but in common practice. But now a concentrated assault on Christian culture is upon us in which the resources of all institutions (those of the state, all media, universities, commercial enterprises, foundations and even the churches themselves) are mobilized in the attack with an ever more open hatred. This attack also is rooted in religion. Today everyone is forced to be concerned about Christianity and culture. This does not mean that they know how to think about it. Their biggest problem is the first of Elliot’s conditions: organic structure, such as will foster the hereditary transmission. This is amplified by the church traditions that see their status as strangers and wayfarers in the world as a mandate to abstain from the organic structures necessary for culture, or at least not think about them. But this option is impossible if one wants to go on living; just look at the Amish; no one has created a more total organic structure than they did in their effort to avoid life in the world. So herein look for analysis of the three conditions of culture, but especially the first. Contra Mundum is not related to any institution, foundation, church or commercial entity. Opinions expressed by the writers are solely their own and may be and sometimes are contrary those of the editors. contramundum@contra-mundum.org castellano@contra-mundum.org
About Contra Mundum, a study of the conditions of Christian culture.