Anthony Sacramone at Strange Herring gets serious, issuing a manifesto, of a sort. Read it all at the link, but here are excerpts:
The time is coming when Christians of all stripes must consider what it means to be a nation within a nation, alien residents, not in a secular culture but in a culture actively hostile to its most deeply cherished beliefs and values. The time is coming when Christians are going to have to come to terms with being an alternative culture within the larger one. And that is going to mean giving greater attention to their schools and hospitals. . . .
For too long Christians assumed that this was a Christian nation, filled with likeminded people who would, despite Hollywood and the mainstream media and a few academics on the margins, would ultimately see their values prevail, due to the much advertised American exceptionalism. Time to reconsider. Time to stop being so complacent. The barbarians are not at the gate — they’re in the house.
This is not a call for a retreat into the woods, for ratcheting up the paranoia or building bomb shelters or stocking up on guns. That’s an admission of defeat, that the God we worship is not greater than the principalities and powers of this world.
It is a call for a celebration of, and respect for, life — new life, elderly life, disabled and handicapped life — and a call for the repristination of our hospitals and schools and libraries and elder-care facilities. We can no longer take for granted that the secular institutions will support our beliefs and values. On the contrary: We must assume they are immersed in a worldview that puts the Naked Personal Will at the center of everything. Narcissism is the prevailing ethos, and that which does not reflect back its own image will be marginalized if not destroyed.
Many non-Catholics are looking to Catholics right now because they have a history of creating such an alternate culture in this country. In the late 19th century, when public schools in big cities began putting sound citizenship at the forefront of its pedagogic agenda, it was with an eye toward de-Catholicizing recent immigrants. And so Catholics resisted by constructing their own schools, hospitals, nursing homes. They created institutions that would preserve and transmit their beliefs and their culture from generation to generation.
Other denominations did as well: Lutherans have their parochials schools and Presbyterians and Methodists built their hospitals and colleges. But do these institutions still see their Christian roots as their ongoing source of life, or have they paved over their living foundation and replaced the stained glass with mirror images of their secular counterparts in order to appeal to a broader swathe of the population just to keep their doors open?
We must also keep in mind another part of Catholic history: The historical counterparts of those people I playfully call barbarians were once upon a time converted. And the contempory variety still may be. We must keep that in mind always. They too are made in the image of God. Their lives are also threatened by the rising tide of irrationalism and nihilism. The Church, in all its institutional manifestations, must be seen as the ark of salvation, a real refuge, an authentic alternative, and not just a kitschy knockoff of worldly diversions.
What would this look like, I wonder? We have schools, homeschools, and colleges. While it’s true that many Christian schools just imitate the secularist curriculum with a little religion thrown in (which is often undone by the rest of the courses), classical Christian education has made a comeback–including here at Patrick Henry College– and is beating the secularists in their own terms, namely, academically. Founding hospitals is a good idea, though the prospect of socialized medicine, which may require performing abortions is making existing Catholic hospitals think they may have to close their doors. Fundamentalists have and are trying to establish parallel cultural institutions (businesses, media, a music industry), but that hasn’t gone too well. But maybe that just needs to be done better, emulating classical culture rather than the pop culture.
One thing I know we need to focus on: Rebuilding the culture requires rebuilding the foundation of every culture, the family. Whatever the state does to the institution of marriage, Christians need to build solid, happy, permanent marriages among themselves. Whatever the pop culture does to mess up children, Christian parents need to raise solid, happy, growing children.
Notice that this all, including converting the barbarians, requires recovering the doctrine of vocation!