My response (with a few slight edits) to a Jame Poulos post at Postmodern Conservative, "Why the Culture Wars Won't Die." My argument is that while he might be right that these wars won't die, like most wars they are futile waste of energy that serve the interests of people who are not on the front lines. I'm quoting commenter Matoko Chan in the opening epigraph:
I'm with Matoko Chan. The anything-goes folks vs. the honor-the-ancestors-folks have been fighting a war that has little relevance to culture or to the future of culture. Culture happens. And cultures die or at least experience winter seasons, which perhaps will give way after a while to a springtime. The winter season of the 14th century gave way to the springtime of the 15th.
There is no “Culture War”.There is only cultural and demographic evolution.
No religio/demographic group can fight cultural evolution.
I'm with Barzun. The West is decadent. Decadence happens, and like winter it's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just a time that doesn't have much exterior spiritual energy anymore--the spirit has gone underground, so to speak, into the soul's interior. And since the whole movement of salvation history has been a movement from outer to inner, from given to chosen, from the law given on slabs of stone on Sinai to the law written in the heart after Pentecos, it's understandable that the outer trappings of Christian Civilization should gradually become emptied and less relevant for the living of the faith.
I'm with Nietzsche. He was just observing what had become inarguable. Not that God was dead, but that He wasn't to be found in cultural/civilizational forms out there. Sure the forms exist, but with a few exceptions these forms have as much relevancy to the spirit that once animated them as the New York St. Patrick's Day parade has to the spirit St. Patrick. They are dead forms animated by the undead energies of nostalgia, jingoism, and other vulgar passions. Conservatives simply don't want to face up to this truth, and keep fighting this battle for a zombie culture, and in doing so are looking for love in all the wrong places--out there in the mainstream culture. They are fighting for the preservation of cultural forms that were shaped by spiritual cultural energies that simply no longer exist.
Look. I'm a trinitarian Christian. I go to mass and I believe in the real presence. I see the mass as the central event, the time when we reenact Christ's living into our death so that we may in turn die into his Life. I look forward to the retrieval of a kind of sensibility that naturally understands the world sacramentally, numinously, and I believe that's in our future, but it's not how we commonly experience the world now. And that retrieval, if it happens, will not depend on the preservation of medieval forms or some dream of Christendom's return. All that matters is that the mass be celebrated, that men and women of conscience, whether believers or unbelievers, respond to the ubiquity of grace that they, we all, swim in, and culture will take care of itself.
Focus your energies where they might actually bear fruit. This culture war business is futile nonsense. Let Christians live deeply their Christianity and let them find ways to renew the face of the earth, and if they do it, not through some head trip bent on preserving the unpreservable, but in radical trust that God has a future for us, all shall be well.
See also "Faith, Hope, and Love in a Decadent Age."