Robert Royal has an essay on culture over at The Catholic Thing that is worth a read. I mostly agree with Royal that any effort to generate culture without reference to the transcendent does not, in fact, generate culture, it generates consumer goods. Additionally, a society that becomes content with consumer goods instead of culture is a society that ends up with 70% of its gross domestic product coming from consumption - oops, that is the society we have, and it is not sustainable economically, environmentally, morally or culturally. Royal does not say, however, what must be said and what hurts to say, that too many religious people, by reducing religion to ethics, have unintentionally contributed to the decimation of culture, and that a faith that does not generate culture is a dead faith. To my mind, this is what the New Evangelization must be about, reclaiming the instransigent, historic claims our faith makes and placing them at the center of the Christian proposition again, creating the space in which people can encounter the Risen Christ, and allowing that encounter to transform our very selves. That is what has created Christian culture in the past and is the only way to create Christian culture today. I will note that these activities are all essentially passive, and so may seem ill-suited to the protean age in which we live. But, there it is - only a faith that starts with the gratuitousness of its claims can actually create anything recognizably Christian. It is in the fiat and the Magnificat of the Blessed Mother that we find our model. More on these themes as the year progresses.