A reader observes and agrees with my comments on the artificiality of America, but asks why I don’t provide an antidote to the poison. It’s a good question, and very difficult to answer. In the face of a massive culture of shallow entertainment and artificiality how do you live an authentic life?
I know a couple of good Catholics who want to construct ‘core communities’ of like minded folks who will buy a property in the country and live together in family groups and have chickens and pigs and ducks and cows and live together and pray together living the simple life. But in our day and age isn’t that also (in its own way) contrived and artificial?
Some folks recommend that we go back to our roots. One of the contributing factors to the artificiality is that we are so mobile. We move and live all over the place. If I, for example, were to go back to my roots, however, it would mean going back to Pennsylvania and living a Mennonite kind of life. This would be fake as well because that is not where I am. Other choices were made for me and by me at different stages and so to ‘go back to my roots’ would be artificial, and furthermore, I could only do that if my whole extended family went with me. Ain’t gonna happen.
Shall I live more simply and not go to movies and theme parks and get rid of my car and cell phone and avoid fake Italian restaurants? That too would be pretentious and contrived, self conscious and artificial.
It’s a Catch-22.
I think, therefore, the answer lies within. Each person must strive for authenticity within himself. Chesterton says, “Every argument is a theological argument.” I believe that real authenticity can only be built from the ground up. It begins in the heart. Each one must seek first the kingdom of God so that everything else will be added to him. True authenticity is linked with the true faith. Only as we seek God in the fullness of the Catholic faith can we find true authenticity as well.
I don’t like to use this blog to bite at Protestants, but when we look at the problem theologically and historically I can’t help but draw the conclusion that Protestantism, with it’s basis in nominalism, its political utilitarianism, its individualism and sentimentalism is at the root of the rot. I also say this because, when I travel to Catholic countries the artificiality and entertainment culture is not as bad.
I know my opinion is predictable, and I’m happy to be shot down, but put simply, the answer is for more people to be good Catholics.