Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Off the Cuff Thoughts On Culture

[This is a true "blog" entry. Just a simple, off the cuff consideration of the moment.]

Recently we received in my part of the world some welcome relief from some days of excessive heat and humidity. Relative to those days, the 'cooler' temperatures made it feel a little more fall like. Associations can be powerful things, and when the late summer and early autumn does actually roll around, my mind turns again to my days at the university -- something I miss. After all, what a joy and privilege to be able to spend time studying and taking in some of the great works of literature, to mull over the writings of great philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and, more in the modern, Josef Pieper.

In fact, Pieper is one of my favourite philosophers, and there is no doubt that the view he espoused in his seminal work, Leisure: The Basis of Culture informs my own attitude toward education as both "leisure" (in the classical sense of time well spent in intellectual formation contrary to the more day to day work necessary for existence), as having as its end the betterment of the human person and the worthwhile pursuit of the higher things: the True, the Good and the Beautiful. In fact, in preparation for our recent celebrations of Summorum Pontificum, it put me in mind of again picking up on another of his works,In Tune with the World, which is about festivals and festivity. But I digress.

Liturgy and culture are closely tied up together, and the expression of the sacred liturgy intersects a variety of cultural disciplines: music, poetry, architecture, art and so on.

I've often felt that our focus upon the enchantment of the liturgy also ties into the general enchantment of culture and the Christian life. We speak of the way in which we worship as informing our Faith and belief, and likewise, what we read, what we listen to, all of these things also have an effect and influence over us as well and who we are. There's something of a circular relationship here because of course, when we inform ourselves this way, we also then can all the more appreciate our liturgical and ecclesiastical culture.

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