Woke Culture in Canada? Anthropological Errors and Opportunities for Mission

Keywords: Woke culture, Canada, Justin Trudeau, new rights, George Grant, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, John Paul II, theological anthropology


With the recent emergence of the so-called “woke culture” in North America and Europe, and given the wide variety of ways “woke” has been interpreted by Christians, this paper begins by defining “woke culture” through the lens of anthropology: what is “woke culture” and what does it presuppose about the meaning of being human? The paper argues that “woke culture” carries within it the seeds of an anthropological error: it ignores the original evidence of the giveness of an embodied identity, including both the inherent meaningfulness of having received one’s body from another, and the significance of its sexual differentiation as male or female. A reduced understanding of human freedom as pure “self-making” also follows. By contrast, Pope John Paul II presents an adequate anthropology by placing embodied human experience at its center. Taking Canada as a case study for “woke culture,” examples from the three fundamental anthropological categories of birth, love (sexual difference) and death are discussed. In the face of the great confusion generated by this new category of “woke,” assessing its anthropological foundations prepares those who are engaged in Catholic education or pastoral work to respond adequately to the challenges it brings. The paper invites both a critical reading of woke culture, and a fearless creativity to be present within it.


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