Thursday, July 7, 2011

Faith Is Culture

First, we must state that faith itself is culture. There is no such thing as naked faith or mere religion. Simply stated, insofar as faith tells man who he is and how he should begin being human, faith creates culture; faith is itself culture. Faith's word is not an abstraction; it is one which has matured through a long history and through intercultural mingling in which it formed an entire structure of life, the interaction of man with himself, his neighbor, the world and God.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -1993 Talk in Hong Kong Titled "CHRIST, FAITH AND THE CHALLENGE OF CULTURES"

Monday, July 4, 2011

François Mauriac: Paris Review Interview

"No, the crisis of the novel, in my opinion, is of a metaphysical nature, and is connected with a certain conception of man. The argument against the psychological novel derives essentially from the conception of man held by the present generation, a conception that is totally negative…. Today, along with nonrepresentational art, we have the nonrepresentational novel—the characters simply have no distinguishing features…. I believe that the crisis of the novel, if it exists, is right there, essentially, in the domain of technique. The novel has lost its purpose. That is the most serious difficulty, and it is from there that we must begin. The younger generation believes, after Joyce and Proust, that it has discovered the “purpose” of the old novel to have been prefabricated and unrelated to reality."

“The crisis of the novel, then, is metaphysical. The generation that preceded ours was no longer Christian, but it believed in the individual, which comes to the same thing as believing in the soul. What each of us understands by the word soul is different; but in any case it is the fixed point around which the individual is constructed. Faith in God was lost for many, but not the values this faith postulates. The good was not bad, and the bad was not good. The collapse of the novel is due to the destruction of this fundamental concept: the awareness of good and evil. The language itself has been devalued and emptied of its meaning by this attack on conscience. Observe that for the novelist who has remained Christian, like myself, man is someone creating himself or destroying himself. He is not an immobile being, fixed, cast in a mold once and for all. This is what makes the traditional psychological novel so different from what I did or thought I was doing. The human being as I conceive him in the novel is a being caught up in the drama of salvation, even if he doesn't know it.”

Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 2, François Mauriac

See Also: Evelyn Waugh & Graham Greene

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Writer's Great Danger...

The writer’s great danger, from which his profession always separates him only by a hair's breath, is the vice of vices, the essence of original sin, which is also the cause for the downfall of Cenabre, Ganse, and Ouine—the Sin of Eve in paradise and of all her guilty children: curiosity, or, expressed in a more theological way, knowledge without love, the kind of knowledge that is not paid and vouched for with one’s existence and suffering, the forced anticipation of the vision God wants to bestow through grace but into which impatient man bites as he bit into the forbidden apple.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Three Signs of Cultural Decay: The Anthropological Crisis

A friend relayed a story of a meeting at the school where he teaches that covered changes in the library. Surprisingly, the focus was on introducing and adding new technology that would serve to entertain the students. It was as though books were forgotten as a relic of the past. I have heard similar rumors at the university where I teach that the library would stop collecting physical books and focus on adding electronic copies that students can check-out electronically and read on their computers. It may be a less expensive option for administrators, but it will make it harder for an education to be an introduction to reality and work as a tool for our freedom. This is a sign of a crisis where we fail to understand our needs and desires.

A Country Without Libraries by Charles Simic | NYRBlog | The New York Review of Books

The proposal to make search engines neutral may sound good at first glance, but it gives the government the ability to determine the results you see when you conduct a search on Google or Bing. Although the searches online are biased and work to increase the revenue for Google or Microsoft, allowing the government to make these decisions is a dangerous precedent that would further increase the cultural power that prevents us from understanding our humanity.

SHEFFIELD: Google gets hammered by monsters it created - Washington Times

David Foster Wallace has some interesting thoughts on what is wrong in our cultural environment, but he does not understand the answer. His thoughts are similar to Walker Percy in his understanding of where we are moving as a country.
‘A Frightening Time in America’: An Interview with David Foster Wallace by Ostap Karmodi | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books