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    "Thomas L. Friedman is on vacation."..., 2005-08-19 13:06:24 | Main | "dead wrong"..., 2005-08-21 04:00:37

    liveblogging booktv:

    C-SPAN is broadcasting a talk with WaPo columnist Anne Applebaum and the author of The Cube and the Cathedral, George Weigel, who are persuing that great American pastttime: The Impending Decline of Europe. The sub-title of the talk is the question "Can democracy and human rights in Europe survive without Christianity?" Thus we begin with an abrogation of Christendom's whole history of sanctified despotism, cruelty, and violence. Curiouser and curiouser.

    It's also explained that the impending decline of Europe is largely due to the dastardly rise of Humanist Secularism. Apparently humanist secularism does not share with Religion a common basis for a system of moral ethics through which a society might find cause to defend human rights and democracy. A continent inundated with Christian Democrat parties simply doesn't have enough religion in its politics to hold itself together.

    Weigel begins with a list of Christians whom apparently demonstrate how Christianity has served Europe so well, including those who hardly serve to demonstrate the democratic and humanist qualities of Christianity - from Saint Dominic (servant to both the 12th century Crusades and the Inquisition) to the genocidal maniac Christopher Columbus - to such luminaries as Joan of Arc (burned at the stake for witchcraft), Galileo (imprisoned until his death by the church), and church reformers from Roger Bacon to Martin Luther, for whom I've little doubt Western secular humanists rather owe some small debt of gratitude for moving Christendom along more secular and humanist paths, respectively. In the mind of someone who would prefer to retain Europe's religiousosity it seems strange to applaud those who lessened its universal authority, but at least if we're not on the same page we're not reading entirely different books. I suppose we've once again slipped too far down some nefarious slippery slope.

    Weigel finds the impending population decline of Europe terribly distressing, I believe he used the word "crisis". Applebaum is concerned that it in Germany it has become "impolite" to wave the German flag outside sporting events, bemoaning the decline of European nationalism.

    They take these things as bad without qualification, apparently we are all of like mind on matters of such evils and so no explanatory notes are necessary. After a millenium of destructive, debilitating intra-European wars, many instigated by Germany, one would think the decline of nationalism there would be considered a good thing. No negative outcome, as such, at least is listed from this decline in public flag-waving. Nor is it clear why a falling population in Europe should necessarily be such an atrocity. The European Union has 150 million more people than the US and nearly four times the population density (115 v. 31/km^2). A period of declining population due to lowered fertility rates thanks to a brazen, hedonistic culture of personal choice doesn't sound like so much a crisis as a potential boost for per-capita GDP.

    Applebaum then begins seriously discussing the great mystery of "why the Holocaust was wrong", which seems to bring the timber of this meeting of great minds to such a level of screeching absurdity that it no longer deserves my attention. My afternoon could be less wasted watching Discovery's afternoon programme about killer squid, the "murderous mollusks of the Sea of Cortez".

:: posted by buermann @ 2005-08-20 14:57:45 CST | link

      The weekend isn't a total loss. Friedman is still on vacation!

    posted by Diane @ 2005-08-21 18:17:32 | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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