When Culture Screws You Up

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When deciding as to whether or not I would publish this post, I consulted a few dear friends of mine. With varying consensus, I then read this post by Matthew Archbold at NCRegister and so here it is.

We are all victims.

We are all not victims.

“He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” – 2 Peter 2:7

In a recent post by Elizabeth Hillgrove, she reminded us that we used to have morals. This post was inspired by that one. (and Matt’s)

When I was 9 or 10, a neighborhood kid dared me to curse for the first time. As a semi-sheltered home school kid, the word(s) came out like the gentle flow of vomit–slow at first and then too regular but in a cathartic kind of way. Later that year, a few neighborhood teenagers thought it would be funny to invite me in for a cream pop. I loved orange cream pops. Little did I know, these in-full-tilt-puberty-no-parents-home teenagers were going to expose me to porn. Next scene, I’m running out of the house with cream pop coming out of my nose. They laughed their heads off and one guy washed me down with a water hose. I went down the street in shame and shock…and still dirty.

Starting in middle school, I learned that “real-men” date a lot. So I dated…A LOT. “Playing the field” was encouraged, and having another girlfriend in another city just made practical sense–you were going to be there and your other girlfriend couldn’t drive yet. The irony of a church-kid acting this way should compound the perceived malady. By God’s grace, I escaped this episodic tragedy relatively unscathed, and was blessed to marry my incredible wife with my virginity intact.

In high schoolI studied french for 3 years. I gave up on spanish. What I did learn of spanish were a few phrases that I could use on the soccer field. “Aqui” could get me the ball and “No tango no morales en el bano” could make someone laugh.

This is the petite version of my adolescence, nonetheless, the point of this exposé is to demonstrate just how screwed up our culture is. It also goes to show just how screwed up we get, and that sans reflection and repentance we can and will accept being screwed up as normal. TV in the 80’s started it.  Can you imagine any of the stuff I’ve just described happening in Little House on the Prarie?  Of course not. Like Elizabeth’s article pointed out, just a few centuries ago we had our wits about us. My life was, well, lived in an era at wits end. And then…

…the other night, I was watching television and noticed a new season of a show was starting on NBC that looked interesting. The show is called Parenthood, and since as you may know I have 4 kiddos, I was immediately caught up in the possible story line. Of course, the fact that the show was on a major network during the smut-hour should have queued me to disregard any possible positive message the title could have conjured. Even a hypothetical show called “Tuesday Night With An Angel”, may have turned out to be a sitcom about a dude spending his Tuesday evenings at a strip club. The cult of the banal will not allow you to enjoy a moment of prudence.

What did this beacon of family values look to inculcate in its first 3 minutes of broadcast exilense? Here’s the scene. It’s parent teacher night at the school. Yeah! Mom walking down the halls. Hallways teeming with life. Teachers’ voices echoing in the halls, bragging about their acumen, test scores, syllabi and the likes. Floors freshly waxed. Mom stops at random teacher’s doorway (at least that is what it appears). Teacher is talking to class. Teacher turns and looks at random mom. Next scene: teacher and mom going back to her place in a state of frenzy to…

REALLY? Is this what we want? Is this what we are telling kids to grow up and do?


“Yes, mom”

“I love you”

“I love you too, mom”

“What do you want to do when you grow up”

“I’m not sure, mom”

“Well, let me tell you what would make me happy”

“Yes, mom, what?”

“When you grow up and are a single mom and are walking down the hall of your son’s middle school, and glance into a random classroom at a descent looking teacher with a sparse french-like goatee and mustache and whose abdomen is not prematurely bloated, copulate with him.”

“What did you say mom”

“Act like a depraved animal and copulate with him because he is cute”

“Thanks mom for the advice”

(awkward reader: it feels a little different when you put it this way, Brent)

I agree and I’m fed up. I’m sick in my stomach. On the one hand, we decry the “unwanted pregnancy”, lament the overwhelming cost of government support for single mothers, universally reject “unsafe” you-know-what, and encourage kids to grow up, go to college and have a good life. On the other hand, we are peddling epic fail by epic fail proportions. Elizabeth’s post asked us to re-think culture in a rather let’s be good Christians kind of way. She’s right on. But, I want to raise the ante. Let’s re-think culture in a “the sky is falling down, our brains are falling out, we are setting our own hair on fire, the pool is full of scorpions” kind of way. Seriously. We are not victims, if we don’t resist the culture’s strong hand of influence to push us off the ledge of sanity. Matthew’s article shows that 67% of 18-23 year olds look like this when trying to make a moral decision.

Why? Because we’ve resisted the culture like a french fry. What can we do:

  • Turn the smut off
  • Go to Confession Regularly
  • Go to Adoration
  • Pray
  • Pray some more
  • Stop buying clothes from porn promotors
  • _________________(<—you guys are smart, fill in the blank)

When we do resist, we should be prepared. Like Lot, we will be vexed. In this way, we are victims, and so we should let our simple prayer be:

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”


(image: PD-US-not renewed)

Brent Stubbs

Brent Stubbs

is a father of five (+ 1 in heaven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic. His Twitter handle is @2bcatholic. His favorite color is blue.

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5 thoughts on “When Culture Screws You Up”

  1. Avatar

    What’s mildly ironic is that the old woodcut of the carousing at the top of the page is from an era when culture still had a salutary effect on individuals.

    There are two simultaneous phenomena at work here, it seems. First, there is the complete implosion of the general culture and civil society. There has always been a lot to criticize in that regard, in every age since the birth of Christ and before, but we’ve reached new heights of depravity. Some day I’ll get around to reading After Virtue, which I understand to be the seminal work on the problem.

    But at the same time that we have been left behind by civil society, we have been betrayed by our own families. Catholics long had their own culture, or at least sub-culture, that provided some insulation against a particular age’s errors. Our art, festivals, customs, and norms provided us with points of reference other than society at large with which to guide decision making and form habits. This cultural patrimony (or, really, patrimonies, since in most places there existed subtle variations derived from the intersection of faith and location) was handed down for generations. That is, it was until our grandparents and parents arrogated to themselves the right to discard it and leave us bereft of its assistance. It has become commonplace to view our grandparents, who were young in the 1930s and 1940s and leaders in the 1960s and 1970s, as “the greatest generation.” But they were not (as a conglomeration, of course; nothing against anyone’s grandparents in particular): they vandalized an inheritance that properly belonged to their descendents.

    So yes, the shell that stands where Western Society once was is good for nothing, and bad for much. But we as Catholics would have more shelter from the storm if we hadn’t sold the farm.

  2. Avatar

    Excellent. Also, I’d recommend Up All Night, the new show from NBC as an alternative. It’s pretty funny, though not perfect. But I haven’t seen anything overtly offensive or downright disgusting on it yet. I know, the bar is set high. 🙂

  3. Avatar

    Consider this: most TV watchers are women. They’re the audience those programs you mention are pandering to.

    Kind of makes what you called TV’s smut hour even more disgusting, doesn’t it?

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