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Faith and Culture

the seaCulture is a fluid thing and difficult thing to grasp. Imagine yourself on a boat at sea: The sea is all around you; you are floating upon it; you are being carried by tides and currents and yet you cannot hold the sea. If you try to pick it up it would slip through you hands. If you contained it in a bucket, you would have a bucket of sea-water – but not the sea itself. Culture is that complex of values, ideas, beliefs, symbols, patterns and relationships which societies make, which societies transmit from one generation to another and which make societies. Such culture can be expressed through language, customs, law, art, science and a host of other forms.

Faith must be expressed in and through culture. Culture is the medium we have to make sense of our faith and to articulate and embody our faith. The language we have to speak about faith is a cultural product. The art we use to give images to our faith, to sing our faith, to dance our faith, is a cultural product. Our very systems of meaning and rationality and philosophy are cultural products. Faith is necessarily cultural.

Yet faith is something more than any single culture. Our faith teaches us that faith is above cultures. Cultures may be a medium of faith expression, but they themselves need to be challenged, transformed, converted and redeemed by faith. People who inhabit cultural systems and use cultural forms need to be addressed within those systems and forms. When Christianity moved from an essentially Jewish background to a gentile context, it needed to express its core ideas in ways which could be understood by Greco-Roman philosophers. When the missionaries preached to the Anglo-Saxons of England they needed to find stories which made sense to a warrior culture marked by honour, loyalty, sacrifice and the endurance of suffering. It is our core belief that every culture contains within it something which is a ‘seed of the Gospel'. The Gospel can be preached to every culture. Every culture is a place in which the Gospel can find a home and every culture can be transformed by the Good News of Jesus.

CASE as an agency knows that our work is all placed within the cultural milieu of England and Wales. Indeed within our remit we have two specific mandates.

This web page is one way in which we shall fulfil these charges. In particular we intend this to be a resource for the Church. We shall present both reflections and analysis of contemporary culture. We will involve practical projects to help you understand your won cultural situation and what it means to live, celebrate and share the Gospel where you are. You will be able to find out about workshops and courses. We are preparing a directory of Catholic Cultural Centres and institutions, groups and individuals working in this field and you can gain access to that here. Here you will also find archives of materials we have prepared and a bibliography of books, articles, websites etc.

Courses, Conferences and Events

Training roomFaith and the Environmental Imperative A Conference of the Newman Association and Christian Ecology Link Belmont Abbey Saturday 21st February 2004 (Details from Aidan Reynolds, Ty Carreg, Govilon, Abergavenny, NP7 9PT tel 01873 832220)

Vision of Hope

An exhibition of Christian art in the two Liverpool Cathedrals and Liverpool Hope University in Autumn 2006 will provide an exciting opportunity to see what Christian artists are doing today. Conferences and workshops will accompany this event, which is open to all people of faith. Further details to follow, and check out the Vision of Hope web site: http://www.visionofhope.co.uk/

Newman College , Birmingham, offer MA.MA(Ed) courses on ‘Theology and Culture'

CASE are willing to offer day or weekend courses for deaneries, parishes and communities. Among workshops available are:


Key Church Documents

Gaudium et Spes

Evangelii Nuntiandi

Towards a Pastoral Approach to Culture

Ecclesia in Europa

Books and Articles

pile of booksGerald A. Arbuckle Earthing the Gospel : an inculturation handbook for pastoral workers (London,Geoffrey Chapman, 1990)

Hervé Carrier Gospel Message and Human Cultures: From Leo XII to John Paul II (Duquesne University Press, 1989)

Hervé Carrier Evangelising the Culture of Modernity (Orbis, Maryknoll, 1993)

John Drane The McDonalization of the Church: Spirituality, Creativity and the Future of the Church (Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 2000)

Michael Paul Gallagher Clashing Symbols: An Introduction to Faith and Culture (Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 2003)

Dermot Lane Religion and Culture in Dialogue (The Columba Press, Blackrock, 1993)

London Institute of Contemporary Christianity Beyond Belief: Barriers to Belief Today (LICC , London, 2003)

Aidan Nichols Beyond the Blue Grass: Catholic Essays on Faith and Culture (Saint Austin Press, 2002)

H. Richard Niebuhr Christ and Culture (New York: Harper & Row, 1951)

Tracey Rowland Culture and the Thomist Tradition After Vatican II (Routledge, London, 2003)

Robert Schreiter cpps ‘ Major Currents of Our Time: What They Mean for Preaching the Gospel ' Origins 31 (11)

Timothy Yates Mission – an invitation to God's future: Papers of the British and Irish Association for Mission Studies (Cliff College, Sheffield, 2000)


computerNB while we are happy to draw your attention to these sites as resources, they are entirely independent of CASE and should not be thought of as representing the views of CASE.


Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture

Christendom Awake



The Gospel and Our Culture


The Von Hügel Institute

Catholic Cultural Centres in England and Wales

The following have been registered with the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Catholic Education Service
41 Cromwell Road
Tél.: (071) 584.7491
Fax: (071) 823.7545

Catholic lnstitute for lnternational Relations
Unit 3, Canonbury Yard, 190a
New North Road, Islington
Tél.: (071) 354.0883
Fax: (071) 359.0017

The Catholic Writer's Guild of England & Wales
14 Ely Place
Tél./Fax: (071) 435.3596

Committee for Faith and Culture
39, Ecclestone Square


Linacre Centre for Health Care Ethics
60 Grove End Road
Tél.: (071) 289.3625
Fax: (071) 266.2316

The Catholic Union
63 Jeddo Road
Tél.: (071) 749.1321

Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture
Stratford Caldecott
6a King Street, Jericho, Oxford OX2 6DF
Tel: 01865-55 21 54
Email: s_caldecott@yahoo.co.uk
Web http://www.secondspring.co.uk/

The Lamb & Flag Centre
12 King Street