Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Memory and Identity: Nation and Culture.

The origin of history and culture is found in the Book of Genesis: the decision by the Creator to make man in His own image and likeness, blessing man, charging him to be fruitful and placing him at the forefront of the world. In one verse (Gen 1: 28) we have the earliest and most complete definition of human culture.

In the second account of Creation (Genesis chapter 2), we are given man's original experiences of solitude, unity and nakedness, together with the losing of original innocence in sin.

Man's mission then, which belong's equally to men and women, is to discover and confirm the truth about ourselves, and to receive the world as a gift and as a task. In order to undertake this mission we must be guided by the truth about ourselves and about the world.

Man's mission to the visible world has evolved throughout history, and we can see that where there have been problems, we have not been faithful to the truth about ourselves. Civilisation has always been linked to knowledge of the truth about the world, together with knowledge about ourselves.

Deeply ingrained in human culture is the element of beauty; that man reflects in his own life and work the beauty and goodness which is present in the created universe - man's testimony to God's work. This is a foundational element of the human experience and one which is expressed in the culture of a nation. It is this experience, by which man represents what is true, which reveals man's sovereignty in the world, his greatness. And for the same reason, the nation (natural society) is greater than the State (political organisation), for the nation's link to truth is more organic and foundational than is the State's.

Today, it can be said of many Western countries that they have arrived at the stage of "post-identity". That their relationship with truth and their own sense of sovereignty is now much diminished, and that consequently the citizens of these countries cannot give a testimony to their culture (man reflecting his own truth and the truth about the world). Instead, culture has in many cases been overwhelmed by false values, modern destructive trends in liberalism and economics.

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