From Telos 152 (Fall 2010), David Gross’s “A New Direction: The Religious Critique of Modern Culture.” Read the full version at TELOS Online website.
In their analyses of modern life, cultural critics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have drawn on many strains of thought but have generally overlooked religion as a source of Kritik. This article investigates the observations and insights that can be found in certain Western religious (and, more particularly, Catholic) traditions, and then assesses their overall value or usefulness for contemporary cultural criticism.
Two types of religious critique are highlighted—the “total” and the “dialogic”—and the merits and shortcomings of each are discussed. The total critique is judged to be the more incisive of the two, while the dialogic religious critique, with its greater willingness actively to engage modern secular culture on its own terms, is deemed to be perhaps the more effective.