Putting together to read in one breath, “Rethinking Culture. Church in Malta,” has become an oxymoron. It is self-evident that culture and thinking in Malta are gradually drifting away from what it means to be Church, to the extent that the family of God on this rock lost in the middle of the sea is finding itself estranged from a culture which it gave birth to. It’s a contradiction also because, on the other hand, the Church for centuries has been sustaining our culture with a way of thinking shaped by the Gospel—which ultimately is the Good News of liberation and redemption that gives a new meaning to our otherwise futile and nihilistic existence—and, now that the rift is widely gaping, we still keep on feeding Culture with cultural toys and games that make Culture think of itself as Christian when it’s only so nominally—our public non-existent Christianity would even make Rahner’s Anonymous Christianity blush for losing its innovativeness (and absurdity). But, because it is easier to shut up mouths with toys and sweets, we refrain from taking the brunt of facing the reality that Culture is neither a child, nor a rebelling adolescent, but an autonomous adult who relishes childhood memories and the first loves of youth.
And yet, if we still aspire to be—and not simply call ourselves—“Church in Malta,” we must overcome the contradiction by focusing on our diction. What does this linguistic play on words mean? According to the Oxford Dictionary, diction does not only concern the way a person pronounces words, but it also means the choice and use of words in literature (ergo culture). This has various implications.
Firstly, culture cannot be rethought because culture is not manufactured but lived existentially and only then can “products” of culture flourish.
Secondly, nor can it be a rethinking of the Church and the Gospel, but surely it necessitates a rethinking of how the same Church and the same Gospel can dialogue with culture. Here dialogue is not to be understood in some “Flower Power” way of learning from each other—this is absurd because it would imply that the Word of God is not the fruit of divine inspiration but simply a philosophy of life of our own making which needs to adapt to new situations. Rather, dialogue means striving to find words, actions, ways and means to be an authentic Church that delivers the authentic Gospel of Christ to real and concrete people—as broken as they may be, but to them as they are—and thus instilling again the question of the meaning and purpose of life—which question has, unfortunately, been put to side precisely because people don’t want to think, let alone rethink … and yet the void remains but it’s a nameless void which leads to self-destruction in order to eliminate that same void which precisely makes us who we are: homo quaerens, discovering ourselves anew both as seekers and as sought for!