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Ever since John Paul II coined the phrase "culture of death" in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, faithful Catholics have used the expression to refer to the spread of abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Yet there are other ways in which our society earns the title "culture of death:"
1) Video Games
Dr. Peter Kreeft once said that future generations will look back at the 1980s and 90s and say "Those were the stupidest parents ever, to allow their children to amuse themselves to death in a virtual reality."
The greatest evil of video games is not the obscene way in which they portray the human body (particularly the female body), but rather the way in which they habituate people, generally men, to take satisfaction in having accomplished absolutely nothing.
Video games require concentration, split second decisions, strategy planning and other skills necessary to fight battles, defeat enemies, etc. That's why they are so appealing to men: because men naturally desire combat and conquest. It's part of being the protector of the family.
Video games take all of men's natural testosterone and train them to use it for highly stimulating activities that are totally removed from reality. Men can now be "manly" without having to face real challenges, real sacrifices and real battles.
The crisis of manhood in our culture is partly due to the lack of paternal formation, but it is also due to video games. They are the modern equivalent of the cave of shadows in Plato's Republic, which captivates uninformed minds and draws them away from the most beautiful realities to dwell on the most unreal and un-beautiful things.
No culture survives without masculinity, for it is what governs and guards society. Only in a culture of death would men seek heroism by pressing buttons and goggling at screens for hours on end, growing pansy roots in their mothers' basements.
2) Fast Food
The problem with fast food is precisely that: it's fast.
Really, the issue extends beyond the fast food restaurants; it includes the modern mass production and sale of food items in general. Our society is facing a wholly unprecedented situation: there is practically no one who grows or makes his own food. Few know how to grow food, fewer have the means to grow it and no one has the time.
While growing food is certainly not necessary for a person's happiness, the loss of the agricultural arts in general has a profound impact on society. For without it, man loses the experience of cultivating life with his own hands.
Experiencing nature firsthand, learning how to patiently and diligently tend gardens and farms — as God ordained in Genesis — gives man a unique viewpoint. Man sees himself as an integrated part of an organization, a physical living being among many, all working in harmony.
The "instant prep" food culture is a culture of death for it removes man from the garden he was meant to cultivate, convinces him there is no time for such things and trains him to expect gratification within five minutes of desiring it. Fast food makes man a machine rather than a creature.
3) Rock Music
Pope Benedict XVI said that rock music is "the complete antithesis of Christian faith" because its "frenzied rhythms" give a "wild ecstasy," an "illusion of salvation" and that its "dangerous power" is "not yet taken seriously enough."
The problem with rock music is not so much the crass lyrics it employs as the disordered emotions it evokes. In general, rock music (in all of its species, e.g. metal, pop, modern "country" music, rock n roll, etc.) evokes emotions such as anger, lust, sorrow, and despair — any modern playlist will attest to this.
Instead of purging the passions, instead of teaching man to delight in order, to wonder at beauty, and to dance for joy, the music of our culture teaches man to enjoy discordance, to exchange wonder for a stimulating "high," and to grind for sensuous gratification.
Only in a culture of death does music encourage man to lose himself to animalistic rhythm rather than raise himself to angelic melody.
The relentless, savage rhythms which are so characteristic of modern music pollute the audible environment we live in, whether we like it or not. The tragedy is that we have grown accustomed to liking it.
Christendom and the Culture of Life
The culture of death is far more than Planned Parenthood. It is all around, destroying us in ways we don't even realize.
If abortion, euthanasia, and contraception were eliminated tomorrow, we would still not have a culture of life. Not murdering infants is too low a bar for a culture of life (which demonstrates how corrupt our society has become).
Jesus Christ is the Resurrection, the Life. A culture of life means a kingdom of Christ, a Christendom. Catholics must work not only to stop intrinsic evils, but also to restore goodness and beauty in society.
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