Antonyms are instructive. When we think of the meaning of a particular word and then contemplate its opposite, we appreciate all the more the value signified by that word. Think of peace and then conflict, warmth and then cold, or couth and then uncouth. We are more grateful for things when we contemplate their absence.
But, what about culture? What is the antonymous word for culture? The adjective uncultured exists, but is there a word, unculture? Probably not, and most likely because no individual or society would ever admit to being characterized by it.
Yet, we enlightened post-moderns are losing our cultural identity and sliding into unculture. This is happening because we are abandoning faith, faith in someone or something outside of ourselves. More and more each of us sees himself as a supremely autonomous being independent of any external reality. Culture arises from ‘cult’ and cult requires shared belief in something beyond ourselves.
I invite anyone interested in exploring further some thoughts on this to check out a small book I’ve written now available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. Its title is “Me Is Under Attack”. I consider it ‘soft evangelism’ because – as St. Paul admonished the Corinthians – in matters of belief many today must start with the milk before attempting the meat. For those steeped in the autonomy of unculture it is necessary first to be introduced to the abiding guidance of natural law before beginning to grasp the challenge of faith.
As the book’s synopsis states: “Readers of “Me Is Under Attack” will at first think the book is the lament of a disgruntled curmudgeon convinced that the declining standards in our society portend an irreversible descent into widespread boredom and barbarism. However, as they make their way through its pages they will come to discover the author’s great hope for a better future and his suggestion on how to bring it about. His recommendation entails strengthening relationships, the sinews of society, by reengaging those same personal standards we seem to be abandoning. And, he suggests we start with that paramount standard, “the standard of beauty.”
I write this on the first Sunday of Advent. May all of us find time in the coming weeks to ponder the force of culture in the advance of the Kingdom.