Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Win a Culture War (Or Any Other Sort of War For That Matter)

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”
-G.K. Chesterton

I need to admit something, to confess a bad habit of mine.  I like to browse the internet and find Catholic-bashing articles.  Not a hard feat these days, as it would seem.  Everyone's a critic, and the Catholic Church is too big, too odd, and far too shiny a target for people pass up, and so every Tom, Dick, and Harry, has a word or critique of the Church.  I have a morbid fascination of these criticisms, much the way people have a morbid desire to know what sort of things are said behind their back about them.

Anton Ego's been b*tching about
how low quality our altar wine is
for centuries
As I read these articles, blogs, comments, and Facebook rants, both the constructive ones and the destructive ones, I notice that there's an overwhelming number of problems people have with the Church.  You've got the classics, like ordination of women, contraception, abortion, sexual ethics in general.  You've got the anti-authoritarians, who are the ones who like to rail against anyone of authority in the Church.  You've got the rest of Christianity, which ranges from the mild disagreement to accusations of being the Whore of Babylon (Call my Holy Mother Church a whore one more time, I dare you...).  Then you've got your miscellaneous critic here and there, and God only knows where they are coming from.We all know the critics are a dime a dozen, and I'll discuss criticism in a future post.  We also know they have a plethora of different attacks on just about anything that's Catholic these days.  

For all sakes and purposes, its safe to say Catholicism is locked in a pretty dense culture war.  This war is not new, but the strength with which it's escalating is worth noting.  It'd seem that every Catholic is being called to the battle lines, as apologists hack through seas of intellectual debate, as priests hear confessions of an increasingly amoral society and preach homilies against a society that's at a serious risk of just not caring anymore (and not just about Catholicism.  About anything).  Our education system is struggling to keep up, assuming they haven't given up already.  Although it doesn't seem that way to the unperceptive mind, this is a rather vicious battle, and all signs point to severe escalation in the future.  At risk is nothing short of Catholicism's survival in our society.  

Anyone who gets out of the  Holy Roman
trench gets mowed down in a
Facebook flame war...
Despite some of the view expressed by Catholic thinkers and evangelists, this battle isn't anything new to the Catholic Church.  We've been doing this number for years, and we're going to be doing this for years to come. That's the sad consequence of sin in our world.  We're at a standstill, if you want to look at it strategically.  So how move beyond the standstill?  Well, to put it simply, bring in a game changer.  Ask any strategist: when battles are locked at a standstill, you break it with a game changer.  In World War I it was poison gas and tanks.  In World War II, it was the A-bomb.  In Korea, the Inchon Landings, etc.

We can fight our battles with apologists, pastors, and evangelists, and by all means, we need these sort of things very very much.  But even more so, we need our game changer:  The Saint.  You see, within their criticisms, there's a second question being asked.  Beyond their actual criticisms, you can find a hint of the same presumption, and it usually sound's something like "The claims that the Roman Catholic Church make are too far-fetched to actually be realized."  Its a question of practicality.  For the most part, the critics of the Church have heard the answers and explanations for the doctrine and the teaching, and have rejected them.  Why?  They see nothing to suggest practicality.

Our world is obsessed with practicality and efficiency.  We have a million good ideas, but if it doesn't work, it gets shot down faster than you can articulate it.  The same goes for our religious sense, unfortunately.  All too often we pick our churches and our spirituality based on what's convenient and practical to us.  Thus, its no wonder critics and haters aren't liking the Church.  What's to practically show them that the Church works?  To put it simply, these folks:

Meet the A-team.  Meet the Catholic saints (Bl. Miguel Pro, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta are pictured above).  These are our game-changers, our all stars, the Atomic bombs of our Church.  It is these holy men and women that tell the whole world that Catholicism is real and practical, that the message of Jesus Christ isn't fluff and stuff, its true and its changing lives.  It is Saints who've brought the Church through its past troubles, and Saints who will bring it through them again today.  

We need apologists, pastors, mentors, and evangelists.  But we desperately need more Saints.  First and foremost, before we throw verbal punches and get into the nitty gritty of the battlefield., we have to strive to be saints.  We must be holy, because our Church demands nothing less than that. from us.  Pope Benedict XVI once said "The Church does not provide solutions, it provides Saints."  If we want to win these culture wars, we can't be content with merely being a good apologist, evangelist, what-have-you.  We need to aspire for sainthood.  We need to will it.  These are our examples that all this seemingly far-fetched stuff is not so far-fetched at all.  These are our testimonies to the practicality and reality of our faith.  We need saints.

No comments:

Post a Comment