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A culture can not be complete without real faith




Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House

Culture has not disappeared, I agree with Aeneas’ Quest, but it just has ‘less visibility’ than mass-entertainment, or, perhaps, the problem is heavier? Can we say it’s a coincidence that the Western culture is the only one in human history that produced atheism and made of God a ‘private’ concern if not a caprice or a disease, a matter to be left at any rate separate from a people’s common or public or social life?

Culture has not disappeared, but it remains in the separate world of the artists and poets who live and create in spite of their society’s interests, or who condemn their societies, or being themselves a society’s greatest expression of the lack of meaning, of emptiness, alienation…

It is not a coincidence again that only in the West is a poem or a movie, etc, considered important to the degree that it is pessimist, grave, dark, difficult, etc. The social collapse of the metaphysical center, the collapse of faith in us, will destroy our lives whether we have great artists, even great saints, or not.

It was the clergy’s duty to be the good seed and help the whole of society come closer to a person’s faith. In the West, Papacy was not able to do this, since it confused help with tyranny and faith with ideology, ending in the Protestant transfer of authority from the Pope to each individual as such, so that the West became a place full of Popes and empty of faith.

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2 Comments

  1. Sylvain

    As I re-read your post, I cannot find much to say or add, because I think you are essentially right. This remainds me of Plato’s words: “For in this way God would seem to indicate to us and not allow us to doubt that these beautiful poems are not human, or the work of man, but divine and the work of God; and that the poets are only the interpeters of the Gods by whom they severally possessed.” These interpreters in turn communicate to their public, who is swayed in a similar way. The question is, Can such artists truly exist if society in general does not care for them or their creation? Can artistic and cultural production live and exist in a ‘spiritual vacuum’ where they have little or no effect?

  2. Dear Sylvain, you are right if ‘spiritual vacuum’ is absolute. If we recall the European history, it is full of artists that were almost martyrs, creating in the margin of an indifferent society. Remember even the prophets in old Israel, even murdered sometimes. Yet artists (or the prophets) were not “absolutely” alone. There must be a degree of interaction of the creators with the society for spiritual creation to occur. This degree can be so low, that creativity seems a pure miracle – but some degree of course is necessary. We can not expect a Rilke in Afganistan, nor would Rilke exist in the German speaking culture if this culture was identical with the history of nazism. The same with Papacy; we wouldn’t spend our time writing about Papacy, if it was identical with burning people, selling absolution, etc. It is precisely because the Catholic world has an important culture that we emphasize the problems and try to contribute in its becoming even better.

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature