Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

No, this isn’t a culture war

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 08, 2024 | In Quick Hits

This isn’t a culture war

“The biggest mistake we make is in believing that we are in a so-called ‘culture war,’ writes the Irish scholar Mark Dooley, at the opening of an essay for The European Conservative. Do you think you disagree? Maybe you should wait to read his next two sentences:

The phrase ‘culture war’ assumes that both sides have rival cultures they are battling to defend and promote. However, the enemies of civilization, of life, and love, have no culture.

The point, Dooley argues, is that this is not a ‘culture war’ but a spiritual battle. “When you observe our current predicament from that standpoint, the prevailing madness makes perfect sense.” The essay makes a great deal of sense as well. The goal of the radical left today is not to substitute one sort of culture for another, but to eliminate every form of culture.

What distinguishes our predicament is that there is an attempt, not only to sever all links to the past, but to destroy the very foundations of the dialectic of consciousness.

And why would anyone want to do that? Dooley suggests that the answer is a four-letter word: a word that “respectable” conservatives are too reluctant to use: the word “evil.” [H/t to Father Benedict Kiely of for bringing this essay to my attention.]

Your health isn’t that important

And as if to illustrate the Dooley thesis, the CDC has a troubling rise in the incidence of syphilis in America, and pronounced that “we must act now to mobilize and execute a whole-of-nation approach if we hope to turn the tide.” But what the CDC will not do is endorse the most effective means of preventing the spread of syphilis, namely chastity.

Writing for First Things Carl Trueman comments on the CDC approach:

First, it features the usual exceptionalism for health issues that are a part of the progressive remaking of society. Just as smoking a cigar is bad but puffing on a joint is OK, so spreading illnesses by being unvaccinated is evil while spreading disease through sexual indulgence is a mere technical problem. And it cannot be addressed in terms of any broader moral framework beyond that provided by “experts”—typically not moral philosophers or theologians but scientists.

Don’t just defend Christians

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly (a former Catholic seminarian) objected to a legislative measure condemning the persecution of Christians in Nigeria, because the bill did not condemn all violations of human rights.

Can you guess what’s coming? Right.

And by the way, that includes the gay and lesbian community, which has suffered in Nigeria, among other African countries, even at the hands of religious leaders, who have called for the death penalty because of somebody’s sexual orientation.

To the best of my knowledge no African leader, Christian or otherwise, has suggested the death penalty for sexual orientation. Such a law would be not only cruel but also unenforceable, since there is no reliable way to determine someone’s sexual orientation other than observing his sexual activity. In Nigeria and other African countries, homosexual acts are punishable by law.

So by passing the bill without the inclusive language that Connolly considers essential, Congress would be denouncing the murder of innocent people without, at the same time, explicitly endorsing a legal right to sodomy. And that, he says, would be unacceptable.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: FrHughM - Feb. 14, 2024 4:09 AM ET USA

    Re: “The very foundations” of human dialogue: According to the author of his “intellectual biography” (Massimo Borghesi), Pope Francis has a neo-Hegelian “way of thinking that recognises opposite poles [eg. mercy & truth], hold[ing] them in tension, rather than resolv[ing] the apparent contradiction”. The Pope's frequent talk of "ideology” seems to be the Existentialist critique of trying to make “abstract” doctrine univocally apply to “lived experience". So, "make a mess" and history advances.