Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I was having some excellent conversations this evening with a couple of friends who keep me up far too late on work nights. But it really is too difficult to leave for the discussions are pure, honest, and sincere in their willingness to be open to the truth of the other side. This leads to an authentic search for truth and authentic dialogue happens. It is really a lot of fun (though I'm sure I won't be saying that when I wake up in 5 hours!)

Anyways, there was a point in my discussion tonight that I just could not let pass and had to write it down.

It was to do with Canada and Culture.

We have talked about this a couple times over the past few days, the ideas of what it means to be Canadian and if there really is something called a "Canadian Culture". If there is, why don't we know what it is, and we should go back into history and search it out. If there isn't, is it possible to create one authentically and organically 140 years after the institution of the country?

These are answers none of us have at the moment, from our conversations, and it has at least inspired me to research it at greater depth.

What really interested me, however, was that I also saw Canada being at a crossroads. There is a great hope I see for the future of Canada, and the Church plays nothing but an essential role in this. Where this is coming from is my generation. My generation has had the desire for a true expression of the human person. They have been exploring the riches of the Western Tradition to see this and have found it. Now, my generation is beginning to grow up and take an active role in society.

The question is, can what we see to be a culture worthy of the human person come out of an organic desire in a country that seems to have no unified culturally identity? I think my generation is beginning a great cultural renaissance. They are engaging all aspects of life, from the arts, the intellectual realm, the universities, politics, business, health care, etc. They see that the only way for having a robust and excelling culture is if it is rooted in a faith in God and strong moral conditions. Unfortunately, these are 2 conditions missing from the foundations of a Canadian culture at this point in history.

This just leads me to further pondering, but I will have to do that on my bed as I am passing out! Is it possible to renew a culture if we don't know what our cultural identity is? Is it possible to organically create a true cultural expression? Is there really any hope in Canada? These are important questions that I think we honestly need to ask ourselves.


Colm said...

Hi Harrison,

Well first things first. For Canadians to 'renew' our culture, there has to have been a culture to renew in the first place. Identifying what this culture was, is, and could be, is probably the most difficult for our generation, inured as we are to the vacuous notions of multiculturalism, bilingualism, and Trudeauean existentialism (in political theory of course). And it's not just us, for the past 40 years, all Canadians have been the gerbils in one sick, twisted social experiment spearheaded, politically, by our elite and usually liberal ruling class. I recall having a conversation with a very intelligent young man in 2005 who, in response to my arguments against the legalization of 'same-sex marriage', told me we had as much right to outlaw broccoli eating as we did prohibiting homosexuals from the social and legal benefits of marriage, because you just can't tell people what to do anymore. Tell me please if that makes any sense to you, because it never has to me.

But back to the Canadian culture that was, and may be again. In English speaking Canada, Canadian culture was deeply wed to the liberal Protestant establishment, which up until the 1960s looked as strong, politically, socially and economically as ever. In French speaking Canada, as you can guess, the Catholic Church played a massive role in the development of the Quebecois culture. Without the anchor of Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic, both cultures have declined immeasurably in texture and vitality. So maybe you could say we have a twofold challenge: Bringing back the Church in French speaking Canada, and introducing the Church to English speaking Canada.

Harrison said...

I agree completely, the challenge is with the idea of the Church. We need to bring the Church to the culture and challenge it to realize its strong Christian heritage and that this is part of the root of our culture...

I think, too, that part of the problem simply comes with the other things that help define a culture. For example, one thing that defines a culture is a common language. So, when you have what you want to call as a Canadian Culture 2 separate languages, you have to ask yourself whether we really do have a Canadian culture.

This really is the trial of our generation as you had said, hence why I called the Blog Post "Crossroads". I think we can do it though, but I think it also involves a renewed interest of studying the roots, to see what those who helped founded this country, what were the principles they were aiming for as a country. An encounter with the original Canadian identity, and a re-affirmation of the Church and her role for society and as a root of the culture, these will be our task to bring to Canada over the next 50 years.

One last thing, in regards to the Church, I think that this can happen by exposing people to the Church's social teachings. Showing them the true identity of Man, showing them the Church's moderate realism in approaching the idea of society, a renewed interest in Catholic International Relations Theory, and a renewed sense that we are created for excellence. This could really bring a sense of unity to what we would want to have as a Canadian culture. The multiculturalism identity doesn't work (I wrote a paper on this) because of the inherent difficulties in the false tolerance, and how multiculturalism, when not engaged, cannot be an identity. The Americans have it right, they say "you must be American first and this is what it means to be American", they allow for a hierarchy of cultures, in which one is prominent before the others.