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Love in a time of culture war - John Samuel Tieman

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12 Punto 14 Punto 16 Punto 18 Punto presents the article "Love in a time of culture war" by John Samuel Tieman:

I am a Catholic, a very bad Catholic, but Catholic nonetheless. I went to Catholic schools much of my life, and got a Ph. D. from a Jesuit university. I taught in a Catholic high school. Being a Jesuit educated bad Catholic gives me a certain vantage point. I am liberal, but I understand and respect conservative thinking. Thus do I ask conservative Catholics in particular, conservative Christians in general, this favor. Can we please stop the culture war, especially the sex obsession? It's a loser. There are constructive ways to be conservative.

Religion is on the decline in the US. The Pew Research Center reports that, in 2019, 26% of Americans describe themselves as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular”. That's up from 17% in 2009. While 65% of Americans still describe themselves as Christian, that is down 12% during that same decade, 2009 to 2019. Other data points show a clear decline.

Society has shifted away from orthodox Christian positions. Divorce, premarital sex, contraception, gay marriage, the changing roles of women, these are but a few of the issues that orthodox Christians see as widening the gulf between them and the mainstream of society. These conservatives are embroiled in a culture war that they feel began with the Sexual Revolution of the Sixties. Feminism and The Pill were the enemies. Over the decades, however, they've lost that culture war. Gay marriage is here to say, as is The Pill, as is “no-fault divorce”, as is feminism, and on and on. But many conservative Christians will not concede defeat. They fight on.

These are confusing times. Everywhere there is flux, be it in religion, the family, race relations, gender identity – there's an almost infinite list. Many Christians feel isolated. They fail to see just how much they still have to offer. Allow me to suggest a way of being a conservative Christian that puts aside the current culture war, and embraces long-held beliefs that are rich, complex, varied, and organized in a way that promotes social cohesion. There is a conservative tradition of addressing both spiritual longing and economics with, in a word, love. Put simply, conservatives can reclaim the word “love”.

Consider Enrique Ernesto Shaw of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was a manufacturer. Pyrex was his product. His company established a pension fund and a health care system for his 3,400 workers. His business also gave financial support in case of illness, and loans for important life events such as birth, marriage, and death. In 1959, while Argentina was in an economic crisis, shareholders decided to fire 1,200 people. Shaw opposed the layoffs. He wrote to his employees, “Let us never accept this materialism that sacrifices the human person for money and profit.” In the end, he retained all the workers. (For those who are business-minded, note that he also improved production, sales, and debt collection.) He established the Christian Association of Business Executives, an association dedicated to promoting human dignity and the common good. He saw business as one with the community and personal growth, entrepreneurship as an application of Christian love. Shaw wrote that human dignity must be “ensured by the structure of the company itself.” His business was the business of love. Enrique Shaw today is being considered for Catholic sainthood. The Church recently conferred upon him the title “Venerable”.

Shaw's example offers one way out of the culture war. There are many. And there is no dearth of issues for conservative Christians to address. Global warming, human rights, domestic violence, economic development, immigration, education, poverty, racism, war – choose one. Choose an issue, then address it with love.

2021.07.19 / 10:56
John Samuel Tieman
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