- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2003

‘Omniculture’

“Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, director of ‘Moulin Rouge,’ a cult hit among 18- to 25-year-olds, said that this generation has seen it all and is not impressed. ‘They want something more meaningful, something from the heart,’ said Luhrmann. ‘They’re tired of irony.’ …

“[T]oday’s American culture is the world’s first omniculture, a place where you can find nearly anything your heart desires. From Puritanism to paganism, from depravity to piety, the Omniculture has a media-delivered lifestyle to help you Be All That You Can Be. While some rock-and-roll musicians are increasingly incorporating Christian spirituality into mainstream fare, there are numerous bands exploring the other end of the scale, such as Marilyn Manson … and Cannibal Corpse.

“Cable and satellite television and the VCR began to break down the reigning cultural orthodoxies a couple of decades ago, and the personal computer, inexpensive digital storage media, and the Internet moved the process to the next level. … Cultural artifacts mix and match in bewildering profusion.”

— S.T. Karnick, writing on “Welcome to the Omniculture,” Aug. 28 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

‘Citizens of nowhere’

“For longer than a century, sections of the idealistic left have dreamt of a world made up not of petty patriots, superstitious reactionaries or backward-looking conservatives, but of ‘global citizens’ casting off the chains of geography and nationality to embrace a global future. … There are still those on the left who share this dream. What they don’t seem to have noticed is that their ideal of the ‘unrestrained’ global citizen is already a reality. Take a look around you the next time you are hurried through the business class section on a plane. Welcome to the future.

“Stalking a trackless waste of glass hotels and air-conditioned offices … the citizens of nowhere are the fastest-growing class on earth. … While the neoliberal citizens of nowhere celebrate the birth of a global market, based on global tastes and global values, another group, the liberal citizens of nowhere, help them along. …

“[W]hat the citizens of nowhere have in common, as a global class, is stronger than what divides them. And what they have in common is a shared world-view. Cosmopolitan, ambitious, Americanized, urban, materialistic, they are the product of a very specific value system, in which certain shibboleths — the importance of ‘growth,’ the necessity of ‘development,’ a boundless faith in technology, an assumption that they represent the apogee of progress — are never questioned.”

— Paul Kingsnorth, writing on “The citizens of nowhere,” in Monday’s issue of New Statesman

True friends

“Cicero defines true friendship and Augustine shows us the danger in false friendships. Cicero in his dialogue ‘De Amicitia’ (On Friendship), a work that used to be widely read in schools, agrees with our own students that friendship is an important human experience. In fact, he regards it as ‘the greatest thing in the world.’ Nonetheless, he defines friendship more exclusively than our students might. According to Cicero, ‘friendship can only exist between good men.’ …

“St. Augustine reminds us in his ‘Confessions’ that groups of young people do not always pursue the good. As a youth he and some other boys stole pears from a nearby orchard. He did not need the pears because he had plenty of his own. He did not eat the pears but instead threw them to the pigs. When he reflected on this event years later he concluded that he only stole the pears because he was in the company of other ‘ruffians.’ Had he been alone, he would have never done so.”

— Terrence Moore, principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins, Colo., writing on “Young People Need to Know the True Meaning of Friendship,” for the Ashbrook Center at www.ashbrook.org

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