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Modern Culture

“The term culture wars, which has become stock parlance in our day, can mislead and obscure the real drama unfolding. Culture wars is a hopelessly inadequate description of the choices that contemporary society is making for the future of humankind…growing indifference to the incarnation and rejection of it can only mean decadence and demise of the culture.” (Vigen Guroian) “…modern man has continued to travel ever further away from the eternal truth of Christianity. We have lost our ability to contemplate these truths, we have habituated ourselves to live without them. And so, we have degenerated intellectually and morally, plunging ever closer to a complete culture crisis, unheard-of in the history of mankind.” (Ivan Ilyin) “Without faith, without deep faith, without a faith that is willing to grow and expand, we sell out to self-serving truths and cultural lies.” (Father John Zeyack) “A related cultural fault line is hyperspecialization, where a person or firm focuses on increasingly narrow segments of a production process, discipline, artistic genre, or market. One result is an increasing prominence in our culture of the “expert.” The expert knows one part, not the whole, and often not even the wider field in which they work. They consciously reduce their scope of concern to go deeper in their discipline. But increased clarity on a narrow point usually comes at the price of blindness to context and to one’s working assumptions. It often brings isolation from—and sometimes alienation from or hostility to—those with differing expertise.” (Makoto Fujimura) “Virtue is a very natural thing. It is acquired slowly, frequently without great intention, through repeated practices and habits. Those who worry about the collapse of civilization have become too lofty in their thoughts. It is the collapse of the parish that matters just now…The origin of the word, “parish,” says a lot. It is derived ultimately from paroikia (“near the house”).” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“CULTURE is an inner, organic phenomenon—it grabs the most profound depths of the human soul and it comprises paths of living, even mystical, viability. In this way it is different from civilization, which can be assimilated externally and superficially, and doesn't require the fullness of spiritual participation…a people can have an ancient and subtle spiritual culture, but in questions of external civilization (clothing, living spaces, infrastructure, industry, etc.) it can appear to be quite backward or primitive. The opposite is also true. A people can stand on the absolute high point of technology and civilization, while in the areas of spiritual culture (morality, science, art, politics, and economy) they can be undergoing a period of degradation.” (Ivan Ilyin)

“… modern culture defines the happy life as a life that is “going well”—­full of experiential pleasure—­while to the ancients, the happy life meant the life that is lived well, with character, courage, humility, love, and justice.” (Nicholas Wolterstorff)

“Because we live in a culture where mystery has lost its value, where to hide something is often thought of as merely repressive, we don’t understand this idea of “the sacred.” (Eric Metaxas)

“As long as we as a culture adhere to a reductionist worldview that sees everything in terms of efficiency, rationality, and utilitarianism alone, and one that credentials our children instead of educates them, we are going to continue to see the current spike in anxiety, depression, and cynicism. “Man was not meant to live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). We need to understand this Scripture (which we have likely heard so many times we that we have ceased to understand it) from a fresh perspective and really take to heart what it means. Feeding the body and starving the soul just doesn’t work.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“…culture is not created by the rational mind, nor by the force of will. It is created by a unified, prolonged, and inspired tension of a people's entire essence, seeking a beautiful form for profound content. This includes the unconscious powers of the soul and instinct first of all. But instinct is capable of holding and creative a form, of gestating profound ideas, of becoming inspired, of loving and preserving culture, only as much as it communes with spirituality through love and faith.” (Ivan Ilyin)

“Most people in our culture have had their minds and their character formed and shaped by the practices of the modern consumer state. The role of human beings is understood to be production and consumption. There is an accompanying extreme value placed on the illusion of free-choice and a good life defined by self-fulfillment (meaning being pleased with myself for the choices I have made). In our world we are taught to ask, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” and mean by it, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” But the more proper question for a Christian is, “What kind of person do I want to be when I grow up?” and, “How is that possible?” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Every society offers up “ideals” to its members. Ancient cultures called people to live “for God (or the gods), for family and tribe or nation. Modern societies turned away from the authorities of religion and tradition, and replaced them with the authorities of reason and individual freedom.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)