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The Mike Church Show World HQ

You Cannot Have Culture Without Spirituality

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Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript “Almost $15 trillion have been spent on the “war on poverty.”  That’s another war that we lost.  We only had to bomb inner cities with $100 bills.  Oh, take this and you can go to an abortion clinic after you got pregnant because you’re not married and you can go take care of that, too, even if you are married, better yet.  This is a problem.  This is a spiritual problem.”  Check out today’s transcript for the rest….

Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  Ross Douthat, “For Poorer and Richer.”  This is good reading.

[reading]

Some arguments are hard to settle but are too important to avoid. Here is one: whether the social crisis among America’s poor and working class — the collapse of the two-parent family, the weakening of communal ties — is best understood as a problem of economics or of culture. [Mike: I say it is a problem of spirituality, actually. I don’t think it’s a problem of either.]

This argument recurs whenever there’s a compelling depiction of that crisis. In 2012, the catalyst was Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart” . . .

[end reading]

Mike:  That’s a book.  Dr. Murray has been on this show three times to discuss the book.  I think that Dr. Murray would probably concur, if I had him back on and if I asked him whether or not he thought our problem was economic, cultural, or spiritual, he would probably reply spiritual.  I can’t say for sure that he would, but from my reading of him, I think he would.  I’ll just leave that at that.

[reading]

In 2012, the catalyst was Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” with its portrait of the post-1960s divide between two fictional communities — upper-class “Belmont” and blue-collar “Fishtown.” Now it’s Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids,” which uses the authors Ohio hometown to trace the divergent fortunes of its better-educated and less-educated families.

[private FP-Monthly|FP-Yearly|FP-Yearly-WLK|FP-Yearly-So76]

Murray belongs to the libertarian right, Putnam to the communitarian left, so Putnam is more hopeful that economic policy can address the problems he describes. But “Our Kids” is attuned to culture’s feedback loops, and it offers grist for social conservatives who suspect it would take a cultural counterrevolution to bring back the stable working class families of an earlier America.

That idea makes some people on the left angry. As they see it, it’s money and only money that Murray’s Fishtown and Putnam’s hometown lack and need.

[end reading]

Our KidsMike:  Ladies and gentlemen, that is not the case.  You know that’s not the case.  That cannot possibly be the answer.  Almost $15 trillion have been spent on the “war on poverty.”  That’s another war that we lost.  We only had to bomb inner cities with $100 bills.  Oh, take this and you can go to an abortion clinic after you got pregnant because you’re not married and you can go take care of that, too, even if you are married, better yet.  This is a problem.  This is a spiritual problem.  Those that abide and heed the magisterium and God’s law and produce large families – somehow, miraculously, how does this happen?  I know have a dozen of these families now.  How does this happen that they have five, six, seven – I know one that has nine children.  That’s unheard of today.  Of course, they’re viewed as weirdos by most of you.  Somehow they survive, they provide.  You know what?  They’re not extravagant.  They’re not flashy.  They drive modest cars.  They live in modest homes.  Their children live modestly.  Most of them are homeschooled.

This is an issue of spirituality.  It is not an economic issue and it’s not a cultural issue.  You don’t get culture unless you have the spirituality first.  When we are obedient to the eternal law, when our focus is on eternity not on modernity, not on convenience, when our focus is on eternity, our lives change.  It’s inescapable.  There’s no way your life can’t change, unless you’re already focused on eternity.  Maybe you refocused.  We get to eternity by obeying eternal laws, staying in a state of grace, praying every day for grace and for the graces to achieve the virtues.  Subduing our pride, encouraging our humility, subduing our vanity, again, encouraging modesty, which is a child of humility, subduing our sloth, meaning doing the work that is required of doing the other things.  Work is not just work.  Your prayer life is work.  That’s work, too.  Your spiritual life is work.  Just like anything else, you have to work at it, you have to practice it.  Look, I have to practice it, too.  I stink at it.  But these are the things that bind and make and have historically and traditionally and will and do today make and build strong families.

It’s the use of words that we have just cocked up.  We don’t need to rebuild families.  We need to think properly, get our priorities in order, and build families, and encourage our children to build families.  We don’t want a rebuilding.  I don’t want my children to have to go through 18 divorces and 36 boyfriends to get to the first divorce.  Douthat has brought up an important subject.  What troubles me about this is he ought to know, he should know – then again, you’re not supposed to say the things that I just said.  That is verboten.  Nobody is supposed to say these things, even though they would have been commonly said a mere 50 years ago, maybe even 40 years ago.  Of course, we’re smarter than those imbeciles.  They didn’t have smartphones.  Douthat continues:

[reading]

Their argument gets some things right. The American economy isn’t performing as well as it once did for less-skilled workers. Certain regions — like Putnam’s Ohio — have suffered painfully from deindustrialization.

[end reading]

Mike:  Ladies and gentlemen, again, deindustrialization has been brought on by what?  The obsession with the secular current lifestyle.  That is what has brought the deindustrialization on.  Look, I’m not telling you that because your standard of living, or we live differently today – we have hot showers and running water and some of the modern conveniences that we have – that it has not added to certain of the human condition, but it is not the answer.  It is certainly not the basis.  Our basis is to live, love, serve, honor, and obey our God.  That’s our basis, not GDP, not any of these other frivolities.  You can have these things and you will have them, provided you’re in the proper order of subsidiarity.

[reading]

This is a dense debate whose surface I can only skim . . .

Coming ApartBut the basic point is this: In a substantially poorer American past with a much thinner safety net, lower-income Americans found a way to cultivate monogamy, fidelity, sobriety and thrift to an extent that they have not in our richer, higher-spending present.

[Mike: Okay, Ross, so what’s missing today that was then in greater supply? What’s missing? It’s not dollar bills. It’s not access to dollar bills. It’s not access to “education,” which is not educating, by the way. What is it?]

So however much money matters, something else is clearly going on.

The post-1960s cultural revolution isn’t the only possible “something else.” But when you have a cultural earthquake that makes society dramatically more permissive and you subsequently get dramatic social fragmentation among vulnerable populations, denying that there is any connection looks a lot like denying the nose in front of your face.

But recognizing that culture shapes behavior and that moral frameworks matter doesn’t require thundering denunciations of the moral choices of the poor.

[end reading]

Mike:  Again, let’s just deconstruct this.  Ross Douthat, columnist, Catholic, by the way, if you’re wondering.  He claims to be anyway.  I don’t say that dismissively.  I haven’t talked to him about it, so I’d have to go on his previous statements.  Douthat, today, New York Times:

[reading]

But recognizing that culture shapes behavior and that moral frameworks matter doesn’t require thundering denunciations of the moral choices of the poor.

[end reading]

Mike:  Actually, it does require thundering denunciations of the moral choices of all.  “Poor” is a distinction that we place upon men and women.  It wasn’t always that the “poor” were the subject of so much acrimony.  If you read any of the lives of the saints and the martyrs, especially the saints – not so much the martyrs because they were killed for the faith – what you will find is, as I read you the real story of St. Patrick this morning, he was willing to sacrifice himself, mortify himself, forego his own food so that the barbarians who were poor could have it.  He did it.  That’s what he did.  That’s how he became a saint.

Study the life of any saint.  Here’s a good one.  Those of you that are into pre-schism saints, the life of St. Francis of Assisi.  You decepticons might even like St. Francis Assisi because he enlisted in the army before he de-enlisted and then started roaming about the countryside around Assisi serving the poor.  That’s all he did.  He was so successful at it and he was so inspirational and had a meekness and a sweetness of his personality – he still is so revered.  You see St. Francis of Assisi statues in many, many people’s gardens, around fountains, in churches.  Why?  What did he do?  What was he renowned for?

These guys wouldn’t eat.  Here’s a meal for someone that was in the order of St. Francis of Assisi.  They’d fast almost all day long.  When they’d finally sit down, if they had it, some monk would pull out of a rucksack a loaf of some stale probably molded bread.  They’d have a little container of olive oil.  They would have foraged around and they would have gathered some kind of herbs from nearby.  They would have ground them up the best they can.  They would have put them in a little bowl.  They would have stuck the oil in it and then dunk the bread in the oil.  Dinner.  Dinner for days on end.

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The point is that the poorer were looked upon as the subject of God’s people to service.  It was a duty.  This is how many became canonized as saints, because they pursued it with such fervor and with such abandon, with no concern for themselves whatsoever.  That’s how the poor were deal with.

That’s how the poor were aided.  That’s how the poor were treated.  That’s how the poor were lifted from squalor.  Not by culture, not by economics, not by education, by none of those things.  Which is not to say that in our modern, extravagant, arrogant, conceited world that there’s not a place for the poor to be educated and for them to participate in our vainglorious economy today.  It is the spiritual that is missing.  The culture comes after the spiritual.

Bookmarks_Washington_FEATUREDA culture that comes in the absence of a spiritual would look like the United States in 2015.  Gee, what a coinkydink.  If you want to see what a culture that is not informed by a Christian, God-fearing, eye-on-eternity people, look in your mirror, turn your television on.  That’s what it looks like.  If you want to see what Sodom and Gomorrah look like, look in a mirror, turn a television on.

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That’s what it would look like.  If you want to see what Jerusalem looked like at the time it was taken by Titus, at the time St. Paul was writing about how horrid it was, look in a mirror, turn the television on.  That’s what it looked like.  [mocking] “Mike, do you look in a mirror?”  I most certainly do, every single day, many times a day, with horror.  He concludes:

[reading]

. . . doesn’t require thundering denunciations of the moral choices of the poor . . .

[end reading]

Mike:  I disagree.  There should be thundering denunciations of the moral choices of all of us, and they have to come from the proper authorities.  They need to be coming from our pulpits, ladies and gentlemen, and from leaders that sat and heard someone in a pulpit.  They’re not.

End Mike Church Show Transcript

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