Kultura religijna a kultura narodowa

Czesław Strzeszewski


Culture is a very broad concept, but cultural themes are so integrally interrelated, that all divisions into seperate cultural categories are artificial. Each culture has a social character since it is a product of social processes, and its theme is social.

Religious culture is a subdivision of human culture in its entirety. As a result of the inseperable connexion between material and spiritual elements in human nature, religious culture which refers to the spheres of man’s spiritual life, permeates the whole of human culture and constitutes the inspiration for its progress and achievements in all areas. In such a way arises the close bond between social and religious cultures.

The integrality of culture in no way opposes the autonomy of each of its respective categories or constituent parts. One of the signs of the times indicated by the Constitution 2-nd Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, is the autonomy of secular culture, culture in its broadest sense, worldly.

Since culture is an expression of the human being’s striving toward perfection, it is of greatest importance to the Church’s ministry. The role of Christianity in the shaping of culture, does not depend on creating culture, but rather permeating it. From this it can be concluded that no culture can, in its fulness, have a Christian character, and that any social culture, even the most materialistic, may be transformed by Christianity.

The author attributes an important role in the formation of Christian culture to religious orders and other religious associations. Such groups should constitute a liason between the clergy and the laity and, in such a way, effect the integration of the Church’s community with its cultural activity. Keeping in mind, however, the large scale character of contemporary cultural phenomena, a singular role in the development of Christian culture falls to the laity. The situation where, during the middle ages, in Poland, as well as, in other European countries, culture was built primarily by the clergy, will not repeat itself.

Man of the industrial era, in spite of progress in socialization, nevertheless, feels isolated. The cause of this is the upsetting of equilibrium between technical, material, and spirtual development. The equilibrant of mass culture should be a certain range of elitism, which is a precondition to progress.

The necessity of binding a middle road between technical and spiritual culture, as well as, between mass and elite culture, places before the contemporary state, the task of determining policy for the formation of culture. The role of such a policy is to discover a path of development minus crises, quite analogous to the policies of economic development. It cannot, however, lead to conformity, to violation of the personal autonomy of both the creator and the consumer.

Social culture has its own peculiarity in time and place, giving rise to the concept of the distinctness of national culture. The author conducts a broad historical analysis on the influence of the Catholic Church on Polish culture, referring to his work, The Catholic Church in Poland and Socio-Economic Problems in Poland (966 - 1918), found in Millenaire du Catholicisme en Pologne, Lublin 1969. Basing himself on this work, the author arrives at the conclusion that Christianity played a tremendous role in the shaping of Polish culture. For this reason also, Polish culture is a thankful subject for studies relating to the ties between religious and social cultures.

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