Saturday, April 4, 2009

'Kitsch is a Disease of Faith'

Kitsch in religion is the subject of a Roger Scruton essay reprinted at Ignatius Insight Scoop today. Excerpts follow. It strikes me that the word 'kitsch' could easily be replaced by 'cultural Catholicism' wherever it appears, emphases mine:
. . .Kitsch is a mould that settles over the entire works of a living culture, when people prefer the sensuous trappings of belief to the thing truly believed in. . .

. . .Simply put, kitsch is a disease of faith. Kitsch begins in doctrine and ideology and spreads from there to infect the entire world of culture. . .

. . .The world of kitsch is in a certain measure a heartless world, in which emotion is directed away from its proper target towards sugary stereotypes, permitting us to pay passing tribute to love and sorrow without the trouble of feeling them. It is no accident that the arrival of kitsch on the stage of history coincided with the hitherto unimaginable horrors of trench warfare, of the Holocaust and the Gulag -- all of them fulfilling the prophecy that kitsch proclaims, which is the transformation of the human being into a doll, which in one moment we cover with kisses, and in the next tear to shreds.

See the whole thing.