Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Being Counter-Cultural in 21st Century America

Being counter-cultural isn't what it used to be.

There was a time when people could show independence from convention by letting their hair grow and/or wearing jeans. There was more to it than that, of course.

These days, with the campus radicals being in tenured faculty positions, cultural conventions are different. The days of the gray flannel suit are over.

Can't say that I'm disappointed.

Being Catholic is Being Counter-Cultural

I follow what someone called an oriental mystery religion. Technically, he was right. When you get right down to it, Catholicism is about as "western" as Zoroastrianism.

Which is fine by me. I grew up in a Western culture, I'm an American citizen, I speak American English, and I am, in some ways, "western." I'm not particularly ashamed of being an American - which makes me an odd bird in some circles. On the other hand, what I believe and how I live is not typically "western."

For starters, I believe that there are things that are true, and things that are not true; things that are real, and things that are not real.

I believe that good, and evil, exist.

I'm not talking about which side of the road you drive on, or which fork to use first. That's cultural stuff.

Are Forks Evil?

When forks were introduced to England, 400 years ago, proper Englishmen regarded them as "effeminate and unnecessary. 'Why should a person need a fork when God had given him hands?' " Four centuries from now, everybody in the British Isles and North America may be eating with sporks and chopsticks.

What utensils, if any, a person uses to get through a meal is determined by culture. I go with the flow, and use knife, fork, and spoon the way most Americans do. I may be counter-cultural, but I don't go out of my way to buck the system.

This household does have chopsticks, by the way, and we use them now and again. They're great for any food that comes in chunks - like stew.

I'm getting off-topic.

Emotions: They're Bad, or Good: Right?

Wrong. Anger, for example, isn't a 'bad' emotion. What a person does with it may be, though.

While I'm thinking about it: If you think God is angry with you, I'd figure out why, and patch things up. Fast. Not to make you complacent, but my understanding is that it's what you're doing that's got Him ticked off. You, He loves.

Back to emotions.

Article 5 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a pretty good primer on "The Morality of the Passions." Passions, in this context, means emotions.

Despite the premium that the Catholic Church places on reason, we're not taught that emotions, or passions, are wrong.
"There are many passions. The most fundamental passion is love, aroused by the attraction of the good. Love causes a desire for the absent good and the hope of obtaining it; this movement finds completion in the pleasure and joy of the good possessed. The apprehension of evil causes hatred, aversion, and fear of the impending evil; this movement ends in sadness at some present evil, or in the anger that resists it."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1765)
Think about it: God made us; emotions are part of us; so, God made emotions. And, the way I see it, God doesn't make junk - and He doesn't make evil. He allows us to choose evil, but that's another tangent that I'm not going to go off on. Not in this post, anyway. (see Heaven, Hell, and Free Will, in "Oh, Hell: You Mean That Place Really Exists?" (November 20, 2010))

I said that anger, by itself, is a 'bad' emotion. There aren't any 'good' or 'bad' emotions. It's what we do with them that makes them good or bad. Not my opinion: I'm just re-stating what the Church teaches:
"In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage reason and will. Passions are said to be voluntary, 'either because they are commanded by the will or because the will does not place obstacles in their way.' It belongs to the perfection of the moral or human good that the passions be governed by reason."
(Catechism, 1767)

"Trust Your Feelings, Luke" - Cool Line, Stupid Move

Don't get me wrong: I'm a bit of a Star Wars fan. I like the movies, for the most part, and won't mind watching them again.

But that famous line, "trust your feelings, Luke" - that's just not good advice. "If it feels good, do it" may, well, feel good: but it's not what the Church teaches.

Quite a lot of things feel good in the short run, but aren't particularly good for you over time. If you've ever had a hangover, you know what I mean. And yes, I've had a hangover. Don't intend to repeat the experience.

I Believe that Good and Evil Exist; that Reason Trumps Emotion: What Kind of Freak am I?

I'm Catholic. I don't follow priests out of blind, unthinking obedience: the Church encourages Catholics - or anyone else - to study what's we've learned over the last going-on-twenty centuries. Quite a lot is online by now. I've studied a tiny fraction of what's available, as part of my job of conforming my will to God's

By the way, I don't insist that you live the way I do, or believe what I do. My job, in terms of what the Church is passing along, is to present the facts. What you do with them is your business, not mine.

Another thing: In posts where I get into what the Church teaches, I provide linked references. That's partly for my convenience, partly so that you can follow the links and learn more. But if you'd rather not know: again, that's your business.

'Not Following Where your Heart and Other Major Organs Lead? That's Crazy!'

If using my reason, accepting the idea that God knows more than I do, and trying to not only do things God's way, but see things God's way runs contrary to every popular trend in today's America: I can live with that.

The way I see it, Oscars, Super Bowl Championships, and Constitutional Amendments come and go. They're part of the wonderful, ever-changing, evolving creation that we're blessed to be a part of.

But, a thousand years from now, I'd be astounded if the Oscars were still around. Never mind what's likely to happen over geological time scales.

On the other hand, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) On the whole, I'd rather be part of an outfit that's going to last.

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.