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The following article from Remi Brague appeared in the recent August issue of First Things, and it bears reading for Christians reflecting on the state of secular culture and their own place in that culture, particularly given the penchant for ascribing to any of the various counter-cultural “Options” presented to us for our choosing.


“If we are not building a “Christian culture,” why are we, as people of faith, writing, painting, composing, and otherwise occupying ourselves with cultural matters? Let us go back to the monks. They never imagined their task to be “cultural.” Pope Benedict reminds us of what is well known, but not always understood in its depth: Monks worked and prayed. Their work was grounded in a positive view of labor. This stemmed from a vision of the world as created by a good God, hence as basically good and a fitting arena for human endeavor. 

What we imagine to be a post-Christian culture in the West carries this forward, after a fashion, so let me turn to the other monastic task, which is prayer. This concerns more than making petitions. Prayer is praise, especially in the Psalms, and praise stems from joy. To quote C. S. Lewis again: “Fully to enjoy is to glorify.” Here again we find an overflowing, which is very much in keeping with the overflowing—the superfluousness—of human creative action.”