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I never should have picked up the newspaper. But it was a copy of the Dallas Morning News that my family brought back from their visit there. I thought it might be interesting to see what's happening there.
At the bottom of page 6P is see a cool picture of a massive building that I learn is the Arches de la Defense.
What I read, an article by George Weigel, was right in line with my thinking on the previous post. (Go read it first, its right before this one.) Weigel's article makes the argument that I was ascribing to social conservatives. Namely, that religion is important for the sake of protecting tribal identity and self preservation.
His points as I read them:
Europe chose instead a set of ideas that centered around the notion that the God of the Bible was an oppressor, and only by overthrowing him would human's be free, mature and capable of creating a truly human future.
Ironically, Weigel uses the creation of a monument the size of the Notre Dame cathedral as a example of this malaise. Europeans it seems are so dead on the inside that they build massive monuments to celebrate their own boredom. The alternative viewpoint might see a culture that is celebrating its own accomplishments. Never mind that Weigel's proof that Europe is in decline is its low birth rates. Apparently only happy people, infused with the goodness of God and Bible see any point in having more children.
Why is a continent that's richer, healthier and more secure than ever before failing to create the human future in the most elemental sense of creating successive generations?
Weigel makes the assumption that only good Christian babies will be able to carry forward the torch of human civilization. Science has already gave us the answer to Weigel's question. Its been found that people that are richer, healthier and better off have less children. The reason it seems, is that people who feel more secure about their futures feel more confident in only having one or two children. The chances of that baby being able to survive are much greater, so there is no need to have a large brood of kids just to increase survival rates.
Weigel's theory is that Europeans are too bored and self-centered to make time for children.
If you are focused on me, myself and I all the time, you are eventually going to bore yourself to death. Its only when we understand - and this is part of what becoming an adult means - that living outside of ourselves, to live for the well-being of others, that we fulfill ourselves. Cultures and societies can forget that, too
It would be interesting to know what Europeans think of this view.
And its amusing to note that Weigel himself only has three children.
Perhaps the more threatening aspect of this is it seem that the forms of Islam taking hold in Europe right now are not pacific but aggressive. The interaction of Islamic immigrants with European culture is not producing a softer form of Islam, and its not forcing Islam to grapple with questions like, Can there be an Islamic case for religious tolerance, for social pluralism? Its doing precisely the opposite. Its hardening the edges.
Never mind that Christianity did not originate in Europe, and that it spread there through a progression of conquests and conversions. Never mind that the height of Christianity in Europe was also called the Dark Ages. Never mind that there were great civilizations before Christian Europe (Rome, Greece and China) and that there are currently vast and growing civilizations that are not Christian (India, China).
Weigel does not simply argue for the embrace of religion. He wants Europeans to return to his religion. In fact he lays out another religion, Islam, as the threat, not to secularization which he sees as the problem, but to Christianity, which he sees as the "cultural seed corn" of freedom and democracy.
"It takes a certain kind of people possessed of certain virtues, certain habits of mind and heart, to make freedom and democracy work."
Yes, we're talking about that democracy, first invented by the Greeks.
I won't argue with his general sentiment on democracy, that it takes a commitment to freedom and democracy to make it work. But I would argue with his assumption that only Christians are capable of such a thing and that the secular children are going to piss it all away. As he so innocently asks, "All right, what culture is most likely to protect the human rights that this monument is meant to celebrate?"
I might even argue that freedom and democracy have become our new spiritual values. That maybe its not malaise that's the problem with some people. Maybe they care less about religion because they have a higher dedication to other spiritual ideals; freedom, education, multiculturalism, peace, community, and self determination. Weigel seems to assume that without religion, namely Christianity, we are without purpose.
Because a lot of our high culture and a lot of blue America is European. Its far more secularized than the rest of the country and far less confident in the capacity of biblical faith, be it Jewish, Protestant or Catholic, to inform and shape the great public issues of the day. Its more materialist, more consumption-driven and, frankly, less reproductive.
Never mind that Weigel lives in a blue state and I live in a red state. But this, ultimately, is his point, that Godly people should be pumping out babies to reclaim America for Christianity, and one can only assume, Europe as well.
Wow, the war against sexual freedom doesn't seem so detached anymore does it? Not when you view women as baby machines that need to crank out the little tykes for the sake of out-populating the enemy, who, in their greater numbers or lack of proper spiritual enlightenment, will drag humanity down into the depths of... what?
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