Amy Welborn has a thoughtful post, the gist of which is (if I read her right), that culural Catholicism, the traditions and approach to the faith born of specific cultures and times, is dead. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And it may explain why, when I received a brochure from the Carmelite Monastery in Wyoming, soliciting donations, I found myself laughing out loud at the snap shots of heavily cowled monks driving tractors (how the hell could he see where he was going?) and playing touch football. All I could think of was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It just looks beyond parody.
Not that I’m against retreats from the rat race of everyday modern life. Or dedicating your life to prayer, work and the ascetic life. Far from it. But it seems to me this is exactly what Amy’s talking about. Why automatically think the solution to a problem in Wyoming in 2008 is to dress up like people in Europe from 2012? Too many groups and movements in the Church are thinking culturally first (hey–let’s go back to doing it the way medieval monks did it) rather than thinking the Gospel through in terms more respondent to our culture here and now–and creating something wholly new.
At least rethink the cowls? Anything wrong with taking a cue from the Chinese and donning simple, plain outfits they wear in the rice fields? Or maybe something wholly new?