Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The taproot

If you missed it, you should read the Pope's speech at Auschwitz.


One should be aware of tragedies like the situation in Congo. It shows the basic human helpless in front of evil. It also shows that the elites in the West have no clue about what builds a human civilization. It certainly requires something more fundamental that writing UN resolutions and holding elections.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hatred at school

A first-grade student in Saudi Arabia is taught that "Every religion other than Islam is false" and the teacher is instructed to "Give examples of false religions, like Judaism, Christianity etc.". In fifth grade, the Saudi students learn that "It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God or his prophet". Just two examples from the official history and religion textbooks in the Saudi schools.
A new report from the nonprofit group Freedom House offer a sad look at how Saudi Arabia is poisoning the minds of a new generation of kids. (The complete report is here).

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A gnostic Christian?

There is some truth to the observation that the Da Vinci Code's grotesque success reflects a gnostic wave which has been growing for a long time. Anyway, this is an occasion to understand better what it means that Christianity is an event.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Deficit of faith

A review of demographic trends.


A brilliant essay by Roger Scruton on John Stuart Mill, the father of English-speaking liberalism (as in "everything is OK between consenting adults").

He never understood that the intellect, which flies so easily to its conclusions, relies on something else for its premises. Those conservatives who upheld what Mill called "the despotism of custom" against the "experiments in living" advocated in "On Liberty" were not stupid simply because they recognized the limits of the human intellect. They were, on the contrary, aware that freedom and custom are mutually dependent, and that to free oneself from moral norms is to surrender to the state. For only the state can manage the ensuing disaster.

Nihilism galore

Ultra-nihilist French writer Michel Houellebecq is an involuntary witness to the truth of Dostoevski's remark: "if you take away from man the possibility of bowing in front of the Infinite, he dies." In Houellebecq's case, he rots.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

World change

The real globalization is moving on: widespread economic growth driven by trade. How long will it last?


The world seen from Teheran. Western culture is declining, but everybody still seems busy reacting against it (unless you regard waiting for the Mahdi as a constructive way forward).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Affective nihilist

An excellent Spengler column on Freud and the "sexual revolution."

The therapeutic community has perfectly valid explanations for anorexia and self-harm at the individual level. But it reminds me of a doctor who explains with great precision how a metal object has passed through your body wreaking damage on various organs without also mentioning that the city in which you live is subject to aerial bombardment. Without addressing the cultural catastrophe, the therapeutic profession will be hard put to save many of the individuals.
Human beings are not beasts content with daily fodder and rutting in season. To be sentient is to be sentient of one's mortality. The status of wife and mother in a family within a community offers women an honored position and a link to the eternal. Sexual objectification leaves women with a foretaste of death, and it should be no surprise that Freud's program drives women into deadly behavior.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


This report from the Sinai gives a good idea of the factors at play in the Middle East.

Making lemonade

As the Da Vinci Code movie is about to be released Opus Dei is having a field day.

Doves and Hawks

George Weigel and Marcello Pera were the keynote speakers in a gathering of American and European intellectuals hosted in Vienna, Austria, by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn. They were invited to discuss the Christian identity and roots of Europe and the challenge of Islam. John Allen is reporting on the event and on "the differences between the doves and the hawks" in the Catholic approach to Islam. It seems that the debate proposed in February by Crossroads in New York is alive and kicking...

Bad situation

Here you can see the potential for the some kind of civil war coming to the US.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Culture, not religion

A very nice essay by Fr. Khalil Samir on how the Pope is dealing with Islam (very intelligently).

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Where are you Reinhold?

Peter Beinart has written a book comparing how American liberal faced the cold war to how they (and their opponents) are facing the war on terror. His historical analysis is very interesting, but his hope to provide a model for the present sounds like wishful thinking. The sixties happened. What does today's "liberal" culture have in common with the likes of Reinhold Niebuhr?

Clash of civilizations, clash of ideas

Liberal democracy is a great answer to the present global situation. The problem is there are not enough people, in the Muslim countries, willing to press for liberalism and democracy. An interesting letter from Robert Kagan to Amartya Sen, about Sen's last book.