The weekly column by John Allen is worth reading. "The emerging heart of Benedict's papacy is about truth -- his belief that modern men and women must find their way back to objective truths about human life, imprinted in nature by the Creator. Even if the fallen human mind needs the "purification" of faith to perceive this truth, Benedict believes that it nonetheless responds to something deep in the human heart."
Paper Clippings The Blog of The Crossroads Cultural Center
Paper Clippings, more than a classical blog, is a service providing valuable reading material in order to help readers reach a judgment about current affairs. Comments and discussion are more than welcome.
Along the same lines of previous posts, here is the new Spengler column: "Something more than democracy is required for peace and prosperity, and that is a people committed to good rather than evil. Democracy in the Middle East means something quite different: Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq. The sooner President Bush changes the subject, the better."
Liberal pro-israeli hawk Marty Peretz has a scathing column on the growing anarchy in Gaza. Whereas one should well be irritated by how clearly he despises the Palestinians, one cannot refute his basic claim just by producing a list of Israeli moral abuses and trying to weigh them against Palestinian ones. This moralistic approach would ignore a more fundamental issue: that, by and large, Judaism educates its people, who are of course capable of terrible moral failures. Conversely, Islam in many of its current historical incarnations does not seem able to educate. This is why the fate of the middle east depends so much on the fate of its Christians. Is anybody helping them?
This column is a good summary of the pessimistic "demographic doomsday" scenario that Mark Steyn has been writing about for a while. He is probably right in most respects, but does he think that a better future can be built just based on the belief that "Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives?" As he correctly mentions, Islamism is just a parasite of Western nihilism. So, how do you beat nihilism?
The father of a Marine killed in Iraq writes about his experience. "Though it hurts, I believe that his death -- and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq -- was a waste. They were wasted in a belief that democracy would grow simply by removing a dictator -- a careless misunderstanding of what democracy requires." A painful reading from today Washington Post.
Bethlehem, a place of Christian pilgrims for centuries is quickly becoming engulfed by Israel's security barrier. Once consistently overrun with tourists it is increasingly emptied of life, now resembling a bleak prison town with its checkpoints, sandbags, breeze blocks and heavy military presence. A picture essay by Mark Power (Magnum Photos)
"Nepal, sandwiched between the two rising economic and demographic behemoths of the age—China and India—could be the first country since the fall of the Berlin Wall where communists emerge triumphant." A provocative essay by Robert Kaplan, a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and author of "Imperial Grunts" (Random House, 2005).
Katrina, Iraq, John Paul II. The New York Times website has an interactive gallery of some of the biggest events of 2005.
What makes it fascinating is that there are no words here, just pictures. Which is something we'd love to see more often on the NYT...
This report from India is interesting. One could make many comments, e.g. on power, on how slippery the concept of "culture" is, on how humanity is affected by material factors etc. We will leave it at this quote from an unsurpassed classic: "The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations... The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication ... compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image." The one thing poor Karl did not expect was that the proletarians in Bangalore would end up joining the petit bourgeoisie at TGI Friday's...
But, is that all life is about?
"More than 2,000 years ago, a virgin gave birth to a Son, and the God of heaven came to Earth". Read President George W.Bush message for Christmas 2005. Maybe there is a lot of rethoric here, but is good rethoric...
The new column by Spengler draws an elementary but important observation from the Iraqi elections: DEMOcracy is only as good as the DEMOS, i.e. it relies on the existence of a people. In turn a people is shaped by education. All the problems involving both Western liberals and Islamic fundamentalists can be traced back to an inability to educate.