#1 Suicide of the West or Will America Follow Europe into Anomie and Atheism?
02-27-2010, 04:33 PM
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
In some ways, things have never been better for Europe. When my father was born, in 1909, his life expectancy was 49; if he had been born today, his life expectancy would be approaching 80.
The increase in wealth and standard of living has been startling. In 1960, Sicilian peasants still slept with their farm animals, and my working-class patients remembered sharing lavatories with other households.
In France, the years in which it lost its colonial empire are known as les trente glorieuses, the glorious thirty, when the French economy grew so fast that absolute poverty was eliminated and the country obtained the best infrastructure in the world.
Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder after the war really was a wonder, transforming a country that U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. wanted to keep forever in a state of rural pre-industrialization into the largest exporter of manufactured goods in the world.
Yet for all this success, there is a pervasive sense of doom. Prosperous and long-lived as never before, Europeans look into the future with fear, as if they have a secret sickness that has not yet made itself manifest by obvious symptoms but is nevertheless eating away in their vital parts.
They are aware that, in Chinese parlance, the mandate of heaven has been withdrawn from them, and that in losing that, they have lost everything. All that is left is to preserve their remaining privileges as best they can; après nous, as a mistress of Louis XV is said to have remarked, le deluge.
The secularization of Europe is hardly a secret. Religion’s long, melancholy, withdrawing roar, as Matthew Arnold put it, is a roar no longer, and hardly even a murmur. In France, the oldest daughter of the Church, fewer than 5 percent of the population attend Mass regularly.
The English national church has long been an object of derision, and the current Archbishop of Canterbury succeeds inuniting the substance and appearance of foolishness and unworldliness not with sanctity, but with sanctimony.
In Wales, where nonconformist Christianity was the dominant cultural influence, most of the chapels have been converted into residences by interior decorators. Vast outpourings of pietistic writings molder on the shelves of secondhand booksellers, which themselves are closing down daily.
In the Netherlands, some elements of the religious pillarization of the state remain: state-funded television channels are still allotted to Protestants and Catholics respectively. But while the shell exists, the substance is gone.
02-27-2010, 05:25 PM
Good catch, Moo! Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels) is one of the most intersting social critics of our time,
- Join Date
- May 2008
- Minneapolis MN
03-01-2010, 12:34 PM
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- The Swamps of N. Florida
We can lay this at the feet of moral and ethic relativism. I believe that John Piper pointed out (and others I am sure) that if all truth is relative then when two or more people are arguing then there is no common framework on which to appeal to determine that rightness or wrongness of a point of view. At that point the only thing left at our desposal to determine what is and isn't correct is power. The philosophy of might makes right takes over. We have seen this most recently in the communist societies of the 20th century where a lie is not a lie if it furthers the objectives of those in power.
I believe that we see this in our own country right now. Take the health care debate for example. Both sides argue that they are working on behalf of what the majority of the people want. In my little corner of reality there can not be two majorities for one issue. Some one is lying. The truth will be determined by which party wins. Should the minority win out they will claim that they are doing the will of the people and that is how history will remember it.
03-01-2010, 02:30 PM
- Join Date
- May 2008
- Sonora, Texas
One of the reasons that Europe has not been able to stem the tide of Islam is that it is hard to counter religious beliefs with just good intentions.
03-01-2010, 04:09 PM
It's a good article, and I tend to agree that the things that make the US different from European nations are the very things that will keep the US from going the same way the Europe has of late.
We have the Bill of Rights, which protects us all from religious or other kinds of social tyranny. No one can force you to practice any religion if you are over 18 years of age in this country, unless you live under your parents roof at that point, which is your problem.
We have large religious institutions of all faiths that flourish without government intervention or support. A secular charity in this area, like Forgotten Harvest/Gleaners Food Bank depends on the efforts of many local churches, synagogs and mosques for donations, along with bakeries and grocery stores that donate day-old bread and produce.
As far as christianity in the US is concerned, I don't see the american church folding anytime soon. Even if membership shifts from denomination to denomination, there are still millions of american christians out there who know their rights and will defend them. When the catholic church and the other traditional denominations started dying out in Europe, there weren't very many alternatives available to people who were searching for spiritual experiences.
The European church also had to deal with their own history of complicity with the holocaust and the history of antisemitism that plagued the continent since Constantine.
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