I received a bit of a baffling email after I posted, of all seemingly innocuous things, my review of a Catholic gardening book. In the review, I mentioned:
I’m also a true member of Generation X, and as a rule, we don’t trust beauty.
In a roundabout way, someone sort of, well, not challenged that statement, but expressed bafflement. The gist was that evangelizers seem to be told nowadays that beauty will solve everything and evangelize the hardest of hearts, etc. Then I came along and casually mentioned that, well, no. Some of us don’t trust beauty. Sorry, we just don’t.
Here’s what I wrote in response. What do you think?
Painting with a broad brush, we’re a generation of cynics. We are the first generation to only know a world of airbrushed photos and special effects. “The beauty of traditional marriage” rings false to ears that grew up in broken homes, listening to our parents marry again and again and again. “The beauty of Christianity” runs in black rivulets down the face of the Tammy Faye Baker of our early memories. “The beauty of the Church” rings false to ears that can’t remember a time when priests weren’t considered pedophiles by the culture around us.“The beauty of liturgical art” sounds like a waste of money that should be spent on the poor. Arguments that the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world fall flat on ears who’ve only ever heard the liberal media’s point of view, pouring ceaslessly out of the TVs our parents kept on in the living room, morning to night.We’ve only ever known a world with birth control, abortion, and 24/7 news radio that turned into 24/7 cable news. We were told that birth control and abortion would set us free. Now, in our aging bones we know that’s not true, but saying so is taboo and would jeopardize the sexyfuntimez we’ve been taught to worship, sex being the closest thing we’ve had to intimacy.“Life–what a beautiful choice,” sounds laughable to us. Life isn’t beautiful when comfort and ease are the best things we’ve been taught to expect.And don’t get me started on, “The beauty of feminine genius.” To people who grew up being told that women and men are the same and no different, and you’re a sexist brute for thinking otherwise, “feminine genius” sounds patronizing at best.So how on earth to do you go about evangelizing a generation of Fox Mulders, who Trust No One?By having integrity, again and again and again, until integrity becomes beautiful.Truth is what we crave. Truth is the only beauty we can trust.