Culture Makers or Culture Warriors?

Brian Phillips, Head of Upper School at Covenant Classical School (Concord, NC), has written three blog posts that deserve attention from educators. Some quotations are highlighted below.

Culture-Makers or Culture Warriors?
Among Christians who care about the arts, there are many who cling to the works of a few figures, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, T.S. Eliot, and Flannery O’Connor, who have forged a compelling religious vision in the midst of a secular age.  But the danger in celebrating these Christian artists is that we isolate them from their cultural context, from the influences that shaped their art.  There is a large body of believers who have essentially given up on contemporary culture; they may admire a few writers here or there, but they do not really believe that Western culture can produce anything that might inform and deepen their own faith.  One might almost say that these individuals have given in to despair about our time.  For me, the most depressing trend of all is the extent to which Christians have belittled or ignored the imagination and succumbed to politicized and ideological thinking.
– Gregory Wolfe, Beauty Will Save the World

Culture-Makers or Culture Warriors? (Part Two)
Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance.  We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past…can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.
– Hans Urs von Balthasar

Culture-Makers or Culture Warriors? (Part Three)
Conservatives have, by and large, focused their energies on political action and the theoretical work necessary to undertake action.  The indirection of art, with its lack of moralizing and categorizing, strikes the pragmatic mind as being unedifying, and thus inessential.  Insofar as the great artists and writers of the past are admired, it is for their support of some idea, rather than for the complex, many-sided vision of their art.

* * *

For Christians, the idea that contemplation and prayer ought to precede action should be second nature.  How many of us have become unwitting disciples of Marx, who said that ‘up till now it has been enough to understand the world; it is for us to change it’?  Marx’s preference for revolutionary action over the classical-Christian belief in the primacy of contemplative understanding of transcendent order lies at the heart of modern ideology.
– Gregory Wolfe, Beauty Will Save the World

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