People and families live in the midst of societies and cultures.
In a utopian world, everything about a culture would
be aimed toward helping each member of society become
the-best-version-of-himself or -herself. In our very human
world, however, we know this is not so. It is therefore important
to examine the motives of the culture in which we live.
What is the purpose of culture? In general, the role of culture
is to offer a broadening experience for the people of a
society. But even this broadening should serve some greater
overall purpose. Broadening simply for the sake of broadening
is dangerous, irresponsible, and reckless. In its truest expression,
culture would expose people to a broadening set of
ideas and experiences that would be aimed at inspiring and
assisting each member of that society to become a-better-
version-of-themselves. Every aspect of the human experience
should be seen with our essential purpose in mind. Culture is
therefore only valuable to the extent that it helps the members
of a society celebrate their best selves.
It is needless to say, and blatantly obvious, that our modern
culture fails to deliver in this regard in too many ways to
list. At every turn we are assaulted by ideas and experiences
that not only do not assist us in our quest to become the-bestversion-
of-ourselves, but even worse, often introduce obstacles
that significantly prevent us from embracing our best
selves and following our destinies. Music, movies, television,
magazines, theater, a visit to the mall, concerts . . . it has become
increasingly rare that we emerge from any of these inspired
to become a-better-version-of-ourselves.
So, what exactly is our culture trying to achieve? This is
where we stumble upon the alarming truth. The vision of our
culture is a nonvision. The agenda of our culture is a nonagenda.
Our culture is not so much the presence of something
as it is the absence of something. The stark reality is
that our culture does not have a vision for the human person.
If that sounds a little confusing, imagine how confusing
the actual experience of such a culture is for the average
We inevitably arrive at this haunting question: If there is
no grand vision or agenda for our culture, what is driving it?
You know the answer. Think for a moment. What is driving
the modern popular culture in which our society is immersed?
The answer: advertising and consumption. The goal
of much of what drives our culture today seems to be nothing
more than to create and encourage consumption. Last year’s clothes, though there is nothing wrong with them and they remain as perfectly useful as they were last year, are now magically no good, even inadequate, because they are out of fashion. The same is true of cars, cell phones, furniture, electronics, and hundreds of other items in dozens of other categories.
The practical reality is that the modern culture does not
elevate a person; it consumes a person. The purpose of the
family and the nonpurpose of the present culture are therefore
directly opposed to each other. This places the family
right at the heart of a cultural war.
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