Monday, July 18, 2005

Clairity's Place on "What is Culture?"

Sharon Mollerus of Clairity's Place approaches the question of culture. She begins with Wikpedia entries and then expands to the words of masters:
Pope John Paul II locates the origins of culture in Memory and Identity. The command of God to "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea", according to the pope, is "the earliest and most complete definition of human culture". Culture includes all the knowledge and creative action of the human person in the world, his work and art.

In his article "Truth and Culture", then Cardinal Ratzinger explored the problem of culture in a world touched by sin: "The Bible is not simply the expression of the culture of the people of Israel but rather manifests a constant conflict with the completely natural desire of the people of Israel to be only themselves, to shut themselves in their own culture. Faith in God and their yes to the will of God are wrested from them against their own ideas and wishes."
Culture is the way in which people "do" civilization. It's the summit of how we live in the fullness of our humanity. Thus, culture determines the way in which we approach everything that matters. Rather, our response as individuals in communities to one another and to society writ large determine the way we approach the things that matter. This is culture.

When culture is pure, then those structures of thought and practice that grow from culture serve their proper purposes. When culture is corrupt, then those same structures suffer from an improper relationship to their stated purpose. That's why we Fools must salvage our culture before we can truly alter society. Otherwise, the corruption within culture will vitiate any noble efforts that we make on society's structures such as law.