cultural renewal / restoration

The Day the Music Died

One day, out of curiosity, I Googled “symphony orchestras in the Muslim world.” The results were rather dismal. One site—“About Symphony Orchestras in the Arab World”—contained the following (badly translated) information: Symphony of Saudi Arabia: “Non-existent…” The Orchestra of Emirate of Qatar: “This orchestra has no clear identity…100% of foreign elements” [i.e., none of the [...]

The Church in the Wilderness

When looking at the American Catholic Church and the surrounding culture, the honest, orthodox Catholic is left with at least two sobering conclusions: we are losing the culture war both outside the American Catholic Church and inside its precincts. The Obergefell v. Hodges decision (same-sex “marriage”) by the SCOTUS put an exclamation point on the [...]

The Power of Three Simple Words: We Want God

Modern political discourse is in a sad state today. Ideas are now crafted in sound bites, tweets and slogans to appeal to a world absorbed by the frenetic intemperance of instant messaging. Speech has become dominated by empty rhetoric and posturing. Expressing oneself is complicated by political correctness that suppresses common sense and objective truth. [...]

The Real Benedict Option

The Benedict Option is a frustrating book. Despite the polarized reactions to the volume—some of which appeared before it was even released—this is not (it seems to me) the kind of book that a thoughtful reader can either embrace in toto or dismiss entirely. Rod Dreher is too inconsistent in his description of "the Benedict [...]

The Future of the West: Christian or Pagan?

A friend of mine lives in one of Philadelphia’s comfortable suburbs. She and her husband are both attorneys. Both hold Ivy League degrees. Their community is nearly 90 percent white, rich in Quaker history, above average in education and income, and low in crime. People are friendly. Nights are quiet. Streets are clean and safe. [...]

The Way of Life

Anthony Esolen is a prophet. But before you pick up Out of the Ashes looking for predictions concerning, say, whether Donald Trump will serve out his entire term as president, or what the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima presages for U.S.-Russia relations, be warned: Contrary to popular perception, a prophet [...]

Cultural Renewal Requires Dreamers and Visionaries

One can tell the state of the society by its dreamers. When a society is comfortably decadent, few dare to imagine a world beyond the surrounding material comforts. In such a society, most people are content with the mediocrity of a superficial world in which those who dream are stifled and silenced. However, when a [...]

Hope in a Time of Captivity and Persecution

In reading the latest essay by Paul Kengor in Crisis, I was taken aback in learning about James K. A. Smith’s misguided and mean-spirited attack on Rod Dreher, Anthony Esolen, and Archbishop Charles Chaput, whose recent books, among other things, offer the self-evident thesis: American culture is going to hell on a hand basket. As [...]

Can Trumpian Populism Restore the Culture?

Like all good Catholics, I hope very much that President Donald Trump follows through on his promises to pro-life Americans. It looks as though he will follow through in appointing a pro-life Supreme Court justice; obviously this is a tremendous blessing. Despite that, regular Crisis readers may recall that I have never harbored enthusiasm for [...]

When the Church Thrives, Cultures Thrive

The current controversy over Pope Francis's apostolic letter on marriage highlights several realities in the Church and the world that are not always so clear. As is widely known, Amoris Laetitia, published last year, seems to leave open the possibility that couples who are divorced and remarried civilly be admitted to the sacraments in the absence of a declaration [...]

What is Wrong with Us? How Should Christians Respond?

It’s interesting to reflect sometimes on how humanity might remember the United States of America, centuries or millennia hence. Sometimes I think it will be remembered as a light to the nations, the proverbial City on a Hill. At other times, it seems to me that it will be remembered as a cautionary tale, proving [...]

Why Cultural Renewal Requires a Restoration of Meaning

One of the most common attitudes I encounter with today’s college students is a kind of blasé non-judgmentalism—or, worse, a passively nihilistic relativism. They are reluctant to label any behavior or belief bad, even if, in the most extreme thought experiments, it involves killing innocents. This attitude seems to get worse every year; it’s as [...]

Our Allies in the War to Come

As the Great Wall of Chinese communism begins to show signs of crumbling into a long overdue dilapidation, a billion people will be readier than they have ever been to hear the Good News of Christ. At the same time they will meet the immense force of the anti-evangelist, the advertiser, the marketer of western [...]

Okay, Now I Get the Good, the True and the Beautiful

The Appaloosa Music Festival opened my eyes to something I had been vaguely skeptical about, though vaguely skeptical might too weakly describe what I actually believed about the good, the true, and the beautiful (GTB). GTB can be a mode of evangelizing a hostile culture. But I had tended to view it as a way [...]

MENU