If you’re a Catholic, it seems like the lines are getting drawn ever more clearly between you and “the culture.”
That’s not surprising. Christians have always been called to live “in the world but not of the world.”
So does that mean Catholics should separate themselves from the culture?
Well, it depends.
Culture, in itself, isn’t inherently bad. Humans are social creatures. We’re created for community, through which we serve God and pursue the good together.
So the deeper questions are: Who, or what, are we serving as a culture? What “good” are we pursuing as a culture?
On the one hand, we live in a materialistic culture. We value things based on utility and pleasure. Hence everything becomes subjective, even truth. That’s a culture that Catholics can’t get on board with.
But on the other hand, there’s more to the culture than that. The human heart seeks higher things. That’s why we have the arts. Pay attention to certain secular movies, shows, and music and you’ll notice how they point to the good, true, and beautiful.
The contemplative arts are where Catholics can make a huge impact on the culture. Even though we’re called to be “in the world but not of the world,” Catholics have a long, rich tradition of bringing truth, goodness, and beauty into the world. Just think of cathedrals like Notre Dame, literature like “The Lord of the Rings,” and composers like Mozart.
Catholics can keep this tradition alive, even in today’s culture.
If you’re a Catholic writer, musician, or artist — or even if you just like to discuss faith and philosophy — don’t underestimate yourself! Everyone can do something to create paths in our culture that lead to God.