Some of you may be wondering why the title is in German. I have two reasons for this. First, German is a very rough and tough sounding language, and we are covering a rough, tough topic. Second, the word “Kulturkampf” has a history that I’d like to expand upon a little bit.
So what does Kulturkampf mean?
It means “Culture struggle”. But it also refers to a series of laws passed by Bismarck, limiting the freedom of the Catholic Church in Prussia.
Bismarck sought to limit the power of the Catholic Church in Prussia, and mandated that priests be trained and appointed by the state, that parochial schools be subject to strict inspection, and that marriages be done by the state. It was one of the toughest times in history for Prussian Catholics.
This great fight was known as the Kulturkampf, and in honor of this fight I christen the struggle in our own day and age.
That we are in the middle of a culture war is undeniable. What is scarier is that right now we are losing.
It’s not terribly shocking we’re fighting a battle. We always have been, even when our Religion was still Jewish. But we have never been on the defensive to the extent that we are. Out of wedlock births are up to 40%, a number truly shocking. Our legislative systems now only regulate Porn for their failure to provide closed captioning for the benefit of the deaf. Opponents to gay marriage are now prohibited to go about their lives in ways totally unrelated to gay marriage. Contraception is now being regarded as a human right, and Catholics are being forced to pay for it. Abortion has plagued us for 40 years now. A full 40% of people admit to having smoked Marijuana at some point, and that number is growing.
Christianity has grown weak, terribly weak. 83% of Americans self-identify as Christians. But a mere 20% attend church weekly, and that’s all Americans, not just Christians. 50%-60% of Catholics don’t believe in the real presence, but among Catholics who understand what the Church teaches on it, only 10% don’t believe it. Which statistic is more disturbing, I leave to you.
Do you feel depressed yet?
“How did this happen?!?” You may be wondering.
Well, the truth is Culture wars are rarely fast, dynamic things. Fighting in them usually means fighting like that soldier in the photo at the top. It’s a slow, brutal process. Charges across the field are suicide, but just sitting there on the defensive and not pushing back isn’t going to help either. No quick, glorious flanking maneuvers. Instead, every inch of ground is paid for dearly, and we can only hang on and try not to go insane.
For years, the push has been driving us ever more forcefully towards immorality. In the name of compromise and ecumenism we gave ground as our foes pushed ever harder. Every protestant Church opposed Birth control in the 50’s. Deprived of the guidance of the Pope, by the 80’s almost every one of them had embraced it. Henry VIII, founder of the Church of England, introduced England’s first sodomy law. Several centuries later, The Archbishop of Canterbury weasels like crazy to explain why True Christianity is welcoming of homosexuals. As a Christian Culture, we feared to be dogmatic, and so became reeds, swaying in the wind, laughed at by our foes even as they took advantage of our weakness. The result was that not only did we not convert them, but we weakened and undermined our own faith.
Instead of Ten Commandments, we know have one: “Thou shalt not offend”. But even this one is flexible if your opponent happens to believe in the more traditional version of the commandments.
Is there hope?
Gewinnt der neu Kulturkampf. Winning the new Culture War. It can be done.
I started out by giving a history of the beginning original Kulturkampf. The story has a happy ending. Holding firm in the face of Bismarck’s laws, the Catholics became a political force to be reckoned with. It was, ironically, the very laws meant to reduce their influence that brought them together and made them a more powerful force than ever. The great problem for evil is that it carries its own seeds of destruction. It cannot last, and when it is destroyed, it will be largely through itself. Many of the great evils of our time are centered around the family. It is from the family, then, that these evils will be defeated. Contraception, homosexuality, and abortion may seem convenient in the moment, but they have the problem that they don’t produce natural followers in the way that the family does. When the adults of today, scarred and battered, leave the culture trenches, who will replace them? Who will hold the front line?
It will be you and me, dear reader. We are the future of Christendom. The average birth rate in the U.S. is 2.1 per woman, which is bare replacement rate. Traditional Catholics, on the other hand, are noted for having significantly higher birth rates, both in the statistics and in my personal experience. Not only will the Catholic side be younger, more energetic, more…on fire, but there will also be more of them.
A culture built on hedonism, consumerism, and the worship of self cannot last when put into direct conflict with a culture that stands for something higher. It takes time, but evil cannot and will not last. No matter how hopeless the situation seems, we will triumph in the end.
However, we cannot just sit back and expect our victory to start happening. If we are to win this round of the culture wars, we must begin acting now. That one big reason why we have this blog and magazine. In order to bolster young hearts to set the world aflame with God’s love.
To win this fight, we must work on four essential things:
Be proud of our Catholic Culture!
It can be easy to be proud of saints. But sometimes people try to repudiate the rest of Catholic history and culture. We must once more take pride in the crusades, in the evangelization of the new world, in the Reconquista, and in the Church’s enormous contributions to science and culture. That there have been bad Catholics is undeniable, but many throw the baby out with the bathwater.
2. Support Other Catholics.
Our public school system has undermined the faith of many young Catholics, who grow up and are very formed by circles opposed to Catholicism. Support them! If you are a Catholic homeschooler, do your best to befriend public school Catholics and provide an anchor for their faith. Many homeschoolers prefer not to hang out with public school kids, I know, but we simply cannot abandon fellow Catholics to the school system. If you’re a Catholic public school student, form a Catholic students association at your school. (If unsure how to go about this, I’ll be doing a post giving some advice on how to do this.) United we will stand, divided we will fall.
3. Strengthen your own family.
If it is from the family that we will triumph, then we must strengthen our own families. Spend time with your siblings. Try to pray together as a family at least once a day. It can sound a bit corny to ask that you make your siblings “your best friends”, but they should be very close to you.
4. Edify your entertainment.
Now, I’m not asking that do nothing fun but listen to Opera and watch Shakespeare. I myself play some video games and like a good episode of Sherlock. But I am saying there should be a difference in what you find enjoyable. What a person finds entertaining is one of the best indications of who they are as a person, and if Catholics hope to win the culture wars, then we have to be different, allow our minds to formed by higher and better entertainment, and introduce anyone we can to this better entertainment! (Also, don’t be afraid of Opera. It has a really bad reputation, but if you approach it with an open mind, you will find it surprisingly enjoyable.)
How do you think we can win? Tell us in the comments!