Engaging Culture & Regaining My Taste Buds

Engaging Culture & Regaining My Taste Buds


I remember asking a bunch of friends if they wanted to go see a certain romantic comedy a couple years ago. I can’t remember what the movie was, so I’m sure it wasn’t anything life-changing. What I do remember, is that one of my guy friends, replied back to my invite by sending me the link of the Catholic News Service rating (which, needless to say, did not have positive reviews). New to having solid, Catholic friends, I felt embarrassed being chastised, albeit gently, by my friend. I went to the movie anyways, bringing 5 girlfriends with me.

Several years later, now more mature (I like to think) in my faith life, I have learned my lesson and one too many regrettable movie-sightings later, read ratings from trustworthy sources before watching anything. Not having a TV makes it much easier as well.

We are cheating ourselves if we think that the content we watch does not affect us. We unconsciously log content somewhere and it does affect what we think and what we do. In short, we are what we eat.

I used to work in a tea shop whilst in high school. On my first day, I remember pulling tea canisters off the shelves just for a whiff and would be overwhelmed with the many different flavours. At first, I had to memorize the content in the teas in order to tell customers what teas had what flavours. Couple months into my job, I could pick up on nutty undertones or tell you if a tea had citrus notes. I had as my friends declared, become a tea snob.

I think the same is true of movies. The more time we spend being critical and understanding the subtle notes or ‘flavours’ in movies, the more adept we become at picking up on the good and the bad.

On the contrary, if we aren’t critical or watchful and if we constantly feed ourselves with crap, we lose our ability to appreciate something that is truly beautiful. It’s akin to someone who eats fast food regularly and can’t appreciate a beautiful salad or home cooked meal without all the sodium.

A coworker recently introduced me to Plugged In. It’s a site, Catholic in nature, built for families and clearly states sexual/violent content in films, TV shows, and music. As well, it provides what might be more nuanced positive or negative content. It may seem a little over-cautious, but I have been known to plug in regularly now before cracking open netflix.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. Far from it.

I’m also not saying that the answer to protecting our souls is to stray far from movies or culture in general. Don’t!

I love the way Barbara Nicolosi, a Catholic Hollywood screenwriter puts it when she writes, “It has to be regarded as a modern heresy that so many contemporary Catholics have bought into a reactionary posture of seeing themselves as apart from the culture.”

We are called to be “in this world, not of it.” So what’s the answer?

Nicolosi suggests, “We need more than good consumers.” In other words, don’t just engage with films and music by being critical consumers of it. Engage by actually changing and making films and music. Engage by creating beautiful films inspired by Christ Himself!

But start, start with regaining your taste buds. Become Christ-centred connoisseurs of culture.

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