June 15, 2006

"The very goodness of life, the goodness of being..."

Charlene and I, normally as simpatico as any couple can be, tend to differ on one point, which comes up like a recurring speed-bump in our conversations. Usually over some new Islamist outrage, usually in Europe, something like the rioting and threats over the Mohammed cartoons.

She thinks it's all part of a movement, a conspiracy, a plot, and must be stopped! I respond that there's no active plot, but rather, that these enormities are being drawn out, summoned, by the moral vacuum in the soul of Western Christian society, especially (but not exclusively) in Europe. And that if a country like Denmark had even a tenth of the moral self-confidence it had a hundred years ago, there is no way a crowd of shit-kicking North African peasant immigrants would even think of making demands and committing blatant crimes.

Which is why I found this quote, from a column by George Weigel, very apposite to my thoughts:

...[Prof. Rémi] Brague, who knows a great deal about Islamic philosophy, knows all about the threat to the West from jihadist Islam. In Vienna, however, he insisted that nihilism – a soured cynicism about the mystery and wonder of being — is the prior enemy-within-the-gates. For nihilism leads to deep skepticism about the human capacity to know the truth of anything; skepticism leads to what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described on April 18, 2005, as the “dictatorship of relativism;” and relativism is a solvent eating away the foundations of western self-understanding, western civilizational morale — and the western capacity for intelligent self-defense.

An Enlightenment intellectual, cited by Professor Brague, once said that he didn’t have children because begetting children was a criminal act — a matter of condemning another human being to death, to oblivion. That is the kind of nihilism that lies beneath Europe’s demographic suicide of recent decades. That is the kind of nihilism that occupies some of the commanding heights of American culture. That is the kind of nihilism that makes the defense of western civilization difficult today — and would make it impossible tomorrow, were it to triumph culturally.

The very goodness of life, the goodness of being — that is The Issue beneath all the other issues of the 21st century. So suggested Rémi Brague. I’m afraid he’s right...

"The Issue beneath all the other issues". I too am afraid he is right.

(You can access Weigel's columns here.)

Posted by John Weidner at June 15, 2006 7:49 AM
Weblog by John Weidner