Tradition is our business. In the present moment, this also means trouble is our business. To lay claim to the Christian tradition as a participatory reality, rather than a static legacy of creeds and curios, is to assert that the tradition takes an active role in culture. And this, in the parlance of our times, is “troubling,” as it seems certain to require either the reckless marriage of secular and sacred or the bastardization of the holy in pursuit of the profane. Concern about the former typically issues from functionally secular, pluralistic types, whose approval of religion as a private endeavor sits uncomfortably with their disapproval of religion as a public enterprise. The latter charge commonly issues from certain Christian circles, in which, as a representative triumvirate of the post-liberal order recently articulated in TAC, “cultural Christianity” is viewed as “insincere and hypocritical, tawdry and chauvinistic.”
To both camps, the tradition is trouble. To Cluny Media, the publishing house for which I serve as editor-in-chief, however, the tradition is our business. One year ago, almost to the day, Sohrab Ahmari and I had a fascinating (at least to me) conversation about Cluny, its mission, and its work. (The fruits of that conversation appeared in First Things.) Inspired in large part by Cluny’s reissuing of Jean Daniélou’s Prayer as a Political Problem, our discussion turned quickly to Cluny’s work as a means of integrating Christianity to the culture, and, in doing so, directly opposing the liberal order’s penchant for dis-integrating Christianity from the culture.
For Cluny, the contribution takes the specific form of republishing books, of re-presenting the past to the present via out-of-print, hard-to-find, or just generally neglected literature from the (predominantly) Catholic past. We take as our fundamental premise that the past is something worthy of attention, precisely because the lessons of the past are necessary for the care and cultivation of the culture of the present and its promise for the future. The tradition cares and maintains these lessons. Or, stated differently, the tradition houses truths about the human experience and offers instruction in the ways of wisdom and folly.
The preservation of the past is aimed at the good of the future—and, implicitly therefore, of the present. Gleaning insight from medieval culture, Johann Huizinga argued that culture requires “a code by means of which people understand one another. Everyone is assumed to have mastered the rules of the game.” Culture thus “presupposes a certain degree of dogmatism, of rigidity in thinking,” as well as—and hence the contemporary dissolution of culture—“an absence of the awareness of a general interdependence and relativity of all our concepts and notions which is the constantly present characteristic of modern thought.” Once any of those elements goes missing, culture breaks down, fragments, individualizes. And such is precisely what has happened at present, as seen in our “deracinated, gnostic deformations of Christianity.”
To prevent this occurrence—or to reverse its curse if …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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