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This writer has lived in South America for nine years now, and began spending “non-tourism” time on the continent more than twenty years ago. Persons unfamiliar with South America—regardless of how many films they have seen that are set in it—cannot easily grasp the social conditions in even the more prosperous nations, let alone in those marked by a very high degree of social inequality. The Church—Her hierarchy in particular—has long been perceived by the poor as allied with the wealthy and powerful families that have dominated the region for centuries but have now lost political power to the “resuscitated” revolutionaries of the Sixties and Seventies who to a certain extent have put the promises of Liberation Theology into practice. Traditional Catholicism in particular is often viewed as “elitist” and out of touch with the masses if not with the Mass. The SSPX, largest of the Traditional Catholic priestly fraternities, has no presence in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, the three South American nations with the most left-leaning governments, and precious little presence outside of the major cities of the others. In my own rural village, to go no further, outside of one family, there is no interest in the old Mass and nearly no one has heard of the SSPX or has any interest in it, dismissing it as either “the rich people’s Church,” or worse, “the oppressors’ Church”. A goodly number of the villagers reject the Church entirely for this same reason, although they claim nearly to a man to be Catholics.
Rarely does a book come along that so succinctly explains the decline of modern culture, articulates a defense of the Church's teachings, and offers a hope-filled path for building a civilization grounded in Catholic truth.
In these pages, Dr. Ryan Topping does all three, pulling back the curtain on the false philosophies of the secularists and showing that in the West today the most formidable threat to freedom is not failing economies or Islam, but secularism. Our best defense, he claims, is a vibrant Catholic culture, and our best hope for creating it lies in the principles found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This book takes you on a masterful journey through the relevant portions of the Catechism, distilling sophisticated theological concepts into words that are simple, clear, and direct, while unpacking its core teachings on faith and morals that nurture true civilizations.
In Rebuilding Catholic Culture, you'll also discover sensible ways to begin restoring Catholic culture — right now — in your own life and family, and in our larger communities as well: in the theater, the classroom, in our hospitals, and even in the public square.
This profoundly accessible book will renew your confidence in the world-transforming character of our Creed and in the potency of our Faith to shape and redefine the culture of the West.
CWR: What are the three main prejudices against the family and what can be done to rebut and rebuff them?
Dr. Topping: The first prejudice derives from Marxism and constitutes the initial wave of attack upon the family. Marx and Engels called marriage the primordial institution of slavery. Since marriage – and above all the act of begetting and raising children – normally requires woman to work more within the domestic sphere, Marxists argued that it subjected women to unequal treatment. Philosophically, this claim is weak. Whenever one speaks of equality we always have to ask: according to what unit of measurement? Man and women are manifestly unequal in all sorts of ways (average weight, for instance). Marxists claim political power and money are the correct units of measurements. Do we need to accept this? While money matters, the correct unit of measurement, according to Jews and Christians, is virtue. Men and women are equal in terms of their capacity for wisdom, and courage, and because they equally bear the imago Dei.
The second wave came from feminists who argue that sexual fidelity works against freedom. The argument during the 1960s went that woman should be as free to be unfaithful as are men. It is true that it has always been easier for men to walk away from women. The pill and then abortion made it possible for women to walk away from their children. Here again, Christians propose an alternative vision. Authentic freedom, in our view, comes not through license but through sacrificial love. We gain through giving, and give most fully in a marriage open to children.
The third prejudice, the third wave of the attack on the family, comes from the gender theorists. For a generation already college students – and now elementary school students – have been taught to blink obediently before the claim that “gender is a construct.” This is foolish. Nouns have gender. Men and women have sex. The gay lobby now suffers no dissent. Their persecution carries forward a long war aimed at asserting the rights of sexual freedom over nature.
Sometimes Christians wonder: why not let gays marry? As with everything, our response must be as clear as it is charitable. But let us not be fooled: against the gay lobby we are fighting a zero sum political contest. Every advance of gay marriage rights issues an assault on a child’s right to a mom and a dad. Sex, and the obligations which flow from masculinity and femininity, are not mental constructs. Sexual distinction is rooted in our biology; maleness and femaleness each uniquely reflect back the glory of God. The success of the gay lobby will destroy the freedom of every family in America to educate their children in this most basic of truths: that boys and girls are created to grow up to become men and women.
Of course argument and defense through law is necessary to preserve marriage in our time. But above all else, what our battered and wounded society needs are more witnesses to the joy of faithful and fruitful married love.