EmPulse for Week of December 20, 2010
Sense and Sensibility, Remains of the Day, The Scarlett Pimpernel, even Surprised by Joy…, all bespeak of another era, another time when courtesy, refinement, gentility, and chivalry were the fabric of society. There existed a decorum that pervaded cultured civilization. It was assumed that a man would open a door for a lady, that he would pull back her chair for her to be seated. It was commonplace for children to show respect to their parents, their elders. A gentleman’s hand was his word. But two World Wars, an unresolved Korean conflict, the dissolution of the safety found in traditional families, and the rise of moral deconstructionism has changed all that. Gentility is viewed as pretense, refinement as metro-sexual, and chivalry as simply ridiculous. Common courtesy has been supplanted by a cultural crudeness that drags most of western society to its lowest common denominator.
We live in a exceptionally coarse culture. Clothing styles appear to have lost any semblance of modesty, especially among teenagers. The workplace has become so casual that some places are instituting dress-up Mondays. No one would ever think of writing a formal Thank you note; just text it. The English language, even among Americans, has succumbed to a montage of mispelings, run-on sentences, and a grammar from hell. [Not to mention texting-shortcuts (omg, lol, lyao).]
Vulgarity in the arts (theater, film, paintings & sculpture) seems to have sunken to further degradation. Not that this is new; rather, its offensiveness continues to strive to surpass itself. As evidence I offer the photograph accompanying this commentary. It is titled Piss Christ. The photograph, measuring roughly 3’x 5’, is of a plastic crucifix submerged in the artist’s own urine. It was part of a series of objects the artist submerged in milk, blood, & urine. This particular image, created by Andres Serrano (in 1987) was first displayed in 1989, and won the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art‘s “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition (along with the $15,000 prize), which is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
If ever there were a culture that needed redeeming it is ours. We have become a nation that has risen to its lowest moral point in history. Children born outside the protection of the marriage bond is accepted as normative. Marriages that last past 5 years, a curiosity. Business contracts are too oft full of loop holes or wiggle-room; hidden escape clauses, personal enhancement codicils.
What our culture needs are men and women who will stand firm for what is right, for what reflects the ethical/moral threads woven into our very being. Men who will be faithful to their families, with integrity in their business practices, and interpersonal relationships; women whose strength does not need a sexual overtone, who contribute to the strength of their communities, the workforce, and the world politic. We need people of faith who will live by the principles they say they believe in; who honor God and their fellow man as one act.
Honoring God and those around us is at our core. What is in yours?
Have a nice week,