Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What has become of our culture?

In the last week, I've gotten a TV and audio set up for the rectory; and today, the Internet access point was installed; so now, I've got Pandora on my TV, and I'm listening to Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and other good stuff.

Meanwhile, I'm surfing the Internet, and I see this headline on Instapundit:  Stop Dressing Like A Slob When Traveling. And I remember: people used to dress up to fly. And for church. And heck, they used to dress nicely for baseball games!

Don't believe it? Go find the movie, "Pride of the Yankees," or the "Babe Ruth Story," Heck, any movie from before 1960: you'll see that people dressed up better for everything.

Earlier this week, I had a funeral. And a young man was there, with a buttoned shirt -- open -- showing his tshirt. At a funeral! He couldn't at least button his shirt? Are you kidding me? At a funeral?

What's happened to our culture?

Whether it's movies, music, TV, or theater...

(Did you know there's a show on Broadway called "Naked Boys Singing?" (insert sound of my head shaking). How do I know? It showed up in some other news item I was reading. I couldn't believe it, but sure enough, it's real.)

As I was saying...wherever you look, can you find any example where our culture is better, more refined, more beautiful, than, say, in 1960? 1970?

I know what you're thinking: oh, that is what happens when you pass a certain age; you start getting grumpy about the current stuff, and then before you know it, you're watching Lawrence Welk re-runs.

OK, could be. So if you're reading this, and you're under 30, please, please post a comment here. Do you  think our current culture beats what my parents had? (FYI, I was born in 1962; my experience of contemporaneous culture has been a steady downward trend.) Do you think the culture you grew up with is something better than I do? Please let us know.

Do I sound angry? I'm not angry. I'm listening to Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald. I have a great inheritance that is available to me. I think of the classical education I received, and the doors that opened for me. All that is mine, and it's not endangered...for me.

But I'm sad. I'm sad to think of people who dress like slobs at the funerals of someone they love, not because they are contemptuous, but because they simply don't know any better. They speak in fragments, peppered with vulgarities and obscenities for the same reason -- because they don't know any better. They gape at cathedrals, and wonder what they are; they see a Latin inscription, and just stare. They watch an American movie from the 1940s, and wonder, what world is that?


John F. Kennedy said...

I see more ties in the first row of that baseball game then I see every Sunday at Mass.

It's really sad. I think you're right. They have no idea what they lost.

Hoser said...

I can't speak for funerals, although, out here in the country where folks very rarely dress up, even at Christmas— jeans on the altar, heck yes. Only the best Wranglers for the Lord! I digress. I think the reason for down-dressing has a lot to do with the girth of most people in the US of A. Women and men are getting huge, and wearing a shirt, tie and a coat is downright dangerous for someone who is 300 pounds who is attending a baseball game. I know as a 4th degree Knight, I dread Corpus Chrisit, excuse me, Lord, and funerals in August. Evenp if the church is air conditioned, which most are now days, men refuse to dress up. Since we moved to the country after our retirement, We still dress up, but not in suits and ties or long dresses, but respectable dress. Jeans are not in my dress code list.

I am more critical of women not dressing appropriately at mass. Wearing short shorts and tight fitting T-shirts is NOT the correct dress code. I cringe when I see them go up for communion. I am surprised that father refuses them the Body and Blood.

David Oatney said...

I love dressing up, but it can be difficult for me to do. I have a disability and so getting dressed takes a while as it is, getting dressed up takes a really long while.

Like Hoser, I live in the country too...your dark jeans and a golf shirt, out here that is dressing up! I also agree that Ladies at Mass should not dress like the hired help at your favorite collegiate pub...

John Stegeman said...

Father, I'm 30 so I'm right on the edge here of the age group you're asking for.

Does our current culture beat that of two generations past? I suppose it depends how you look at it, but its probably a wash.

Those of my younger siblings generation are the most likely in US history to engage in service projects and charitable work.

Of course they're also the most likely to espouse secular beliefs contrary to the church.

This generation has created some brilliant art using exceptional technological means, but of course many have lost touch with more traditional mediums.

The list goes on. If you go back a generation or two I believe you'll find the same complaints. I imagine when the "frilly" collars of the 1600s went out of style for men there were some lamenting that "People used to wear their collar to the public market, now they walk bare necked!"

Jennifer said...

Father, I agree with you. I was born in 1971. My children are 2, 4, and 6 years old. I'm shocked at the music their babysitters listen to. I'm horrified by the subtle adult references in children's cartoons.

It's true that I am a middle-aged woman, but society has changed beyond anything I thought possible when I was young. And not for the better...In 1983, when I was 12, I thought that no one could go further than Madonna. She was cutting edge! No longer, though.

I'm worried about how sexualized everything seems to be. But we know that controlling our sexuality is very important if we are to lead happy, disciplined kids are told it's healthy to sexually experiment in so many different ways, with lots of different people. When I was young, the sex education didn't really push anything beyond masturbation. How times have changed!

I dress up every day for work, and then on Sundays for church, and I insist that my children are well dressed with combed hair, polished shoes, etc.

I think I should probably retire my yoga pants in favor of a casual skirt or dress for weekends and after work, though.

A classical education, including Latin, religion, and appreciation of Western Civilization is something I try to give my children. Everything else seems like an imitation of the real thing. I want to lead them to Christ and to salvation.

Thank you for writing this amazing blog!

ndspinelli said...

My old man was blue collar. But he always wore a tie and jacket when he flew. He died in 1989. He hated tattoos. Thankfully the Good Lord took him just in time. Ink exploded in the mid 90's!

Oh and of course, you're getting curmudgeonly. But, we'll always look normal compared to Jim Dolan, The Count of Curmudgeon.

ndspinelli said...

I was born in 1952. Ethnic, blue collar, Bristol, Ct.

ndspinelli said...

I only wear ties for weddings, funerals, and court.

ndspinelli said...

You're all too young to remember men wearing dress hats. My old man was one of the last, he wore dress hats up to the 80's. JFK killed the business and bankrupted Stetson.

Dave Boerger - SEMCOG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave B said...

Father, you must have missed Woodstock while in the seminary! Today's dress is way better than the days of the hippy.

Keep your interesting blogs coming.

Jennifer said...

Dave, your hostility!

ndspinelli said...

Padre, Some Althouse refugees comment over @ Jonathan Turley's blog. You would enjoy it over there, I believe. He is a libertarian and intellectually honest. There's a post today about an obscene selfie w/ a statue of Jesus. That's what made me think of you. He is much more intelligent, interesting, consistent and NORMAL than Althouse.

truthfinder2 said...

I am "old", so I probably shouldn't comment, but here's my two cents worth anyhow. Perhaps people stopped dressing up to fly when long waits at the airport, uncomfortable no-frills flights, and impromptu strip-searches by the TSA became the norm. With the aches and pains of approaching age, I consider it miraculous that I can get up on Sundays, get showered and dressed, and make it to Mass early enough to attempt to kneel and pray for a few minutes first. (I say "attempt" because much of the time there's too much chatter from surrounding pews for me to focus). A bad knee and back issues prevent me from wriggling into some of the proper underpinnings for skirts and dresses, so I wear loose-fitting dress pants most Sundays. Yes, I believe in being decently covered for Mass, so I do cringe when I see anyone in inadequate, scanty clothing. I believe that we also are seeing the result of two or more generations of children who did not live in a traditional two-parent home. A lot of seemingly unimportant things can fall by the wayside when the single parent is in survival mode. I lived through the "hippie" era, and in some of the Protestant churches of my youth, bare feet, tank tops, and bell-bottoms were commonplace. I prefer golf shirts and clean denim to grime and patchouli. That being said, I prefer to see dressier clothing in Mass, because I do believe we would dress our best for a visiting dignitary, and the Real Presence of Our Lord deserves our very best! ~ Rosemary A.

Sevesteen said...

I'm not much younger than you...but I'm glad I can wear shorts and sandals most of the summer. (I'm glad I know better than to wear them at a funeral, and sad that I know firsthand that some people don't) Glad I can ride a motorcycle without judgement. Glad I can dress up on special occasions, and it's actually an occasion, not just my office clothes.

I'm also glad that a picture of a ball game or other public event today wouldn't be completely segregated between white and black.

I'm glad I've been able to experience the culture of the internet--able to meet people with the same interests, not limited to my small town. Glad I have a wide variety of music at my fingertips, that I can learn about hobbies and get help with them.

I think every generation complains about the death of culture, but it's changing rather than declining--some of the changes are negative, but overall I think we're better off.

ndspinelli said...

Sevesteen, Wise words for a whipper snapper.

Trooper York said...

I always wear one of my Hawaiian shirts to Mass with a pair of long pants no matter how hot is. Father Chris enjoys bantering about them.

Especially the ones with alligators.

I think Jesus would wear Hawaiian shirts.

Trooper York said...

His father on the other hand would wear a suit and tie. Just sayn'