Monday, September 18, 2006

Europe: Requiem or Renaissance?

As anyone watching current events will have noticed, Europe is at a crossroads. It was never that distinct by its geography; Europe was defined somewhat by its ethnic identity, but largely by its culture, and that culture was largely Christian. Lately Europe has distanced itself from both its ethnic and cultural heritages; in some places it has nearly disowned them. It is no longer what it once was, and Europe is faced with the question whether it will retain an identity. That is to say, 100 years from now, will "Europe" mean anything outside of history books?

The intellectuals of Europe have had things to say about the decline of Europe. But, disturbingly, they tend to wear black and write eulogies; they are preparing for a funeral. But for all the preparations and dirges, Europe is not without life. Britain has produced a steady stream of the world's greatest writers; Germany has often produced great theologians. I wonder, but cannot answer, for how much drain on creativity is from the commercialization of art, academics, and publishing, and all that commercialization brings in the way of mass-production, standardization, reduction to interchangeable parts. I cannot answer for how much Europe is still shocked that it is capable of the type of wars which repeatedly rocked the world last century. But whatever the causes, Europe seems to be reeling, lost, and searching for direction. Multiculturalism, the view that no particular direction is better than any other, is inherently incapable of providing direction. But the message of Christ speaks directly and clearly to devastation and rebuilding, to forgiveness and healing, to excellence and kindness, to hope from hopelessness: in a word, to redemption. The secret to a renaissance, rather than a replacement, of Europe is to reach within her own resources to heal and restore, to desire to continue to thrive.

Which is why I will take Dickens or Tolkien over anyone writing a dirge.

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