Evangelizing the Culture
Once again Video Meliora provides food for thought. (Yes, I will get around to the promised post on the Catholic Novel, just be patient, I'm creeping up on it.--O wait, you will already have read it by the time you get to this point on the page--oops!)
Anyway, TS at Video says,
I suppose I am still thinking along the lines of Amy Welborn's question of how to evangelize the culture and how art could play a role.
And that's what I want to address. Art is art--sometimes it affects people, sometimes it does not. You could read "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and not get any impression whatsoever of grace. In fact, my first several trips through Flannery O'Connor, I missed, as my good friend would say, "All the novelistic signposts." Art, it seems to me, is for preaching to the converted--something which must be done, but which makes more sense when you're on the inside.
If we are to evangelize the culture, it seems to me we must do so first and foremost by example. I have a young child at home. Those of you with young children know that you can talk until you turn blue in the face, but the child is going to do what he sees you do. Our culture is much the same. You can preach, you can yell, you can jump up and down until you turn blue in the face, but if you are not living a life of holiness, nothing you say will take root.
Seems to me that a wise Man once said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." In other words, to evangelize we must first and foremost change our own lives. We must abandon the common recreations of the culture that detract from our thoughts of God, and we must live a life of such peace and beauty in the presence of God that everyone around us says, "I've gotta have that!"
Prayer and lifestyle are our primary evangelical tools. Unless and Until we turn around our own lives--the examples shown to others, we waste our time evangelizing. I always wondered what beet-faced bible thumpers thought they were doing. You may effect a conversion, but like the conversion experienced by Stephen Daedalus after the "fire and brimstone" sermon, it will be short lived. Conversions through anger, fear, or any of a myriad of emotions, are like the seed that lands in shallow soil. It is the soil of a moment and once the moment fades, the roots of the plant dry up and faith vanishes.
True conversion, true evangelization occurs when everyone can see the difference in your own life. When you are having fun with your wife and child so that you do not retreat to the questionable solace of "Sex in the City" or other programs I am appalled to discover many parishioners of St. Blogs seem to revel in. Oh well, perhaps I am missing out and I have too many of my own skeletons rattling about to cast stones.
St. John of the Cross tells us that the key to approaching God is detachment from all worldly things that keep us from Him. To my mind, this detachment is the beginning of evangelization. Through it we obtain a certain measure of peace and calm and become a center of quiet in a world full of disturbing eddies.
In honor of St. Ignatius Loyola, we should consider his instructions from the beginning of The Spiritual Exercises
The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.
Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him. (p. 12)
[Taken from The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola ed. by Louis J. Puhl. Loyola University Press.]
After all of this, I guess part of my answer is that we evangelize the culture one person at a time through personal holiness, prayer, and example.