Pope Benedict XVI: "In today's consumer society, this time (of the year) is unfortunately subjected to a sort of commercial 'pollution' that is in danger of altering its true spirit, which is characterized by meditation, sobriety and by a joy that is not exterior but intimate".
"The Nativity scene helps us contemplate the mystery of the love of God, which is revealed to us in the poverty and simplicity of the grotto in Bethlehem."
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.
By Marco Bersanelli*
Since the “Intelligent Design” (or rather I.D., as they call it) neo-creationist movement started spreading in the United States, the debate about evolution has grown more and more heated. This is an important step for the traditional American creationist environment: till now the debate was shaped by protestant fundamentalist groups, who claim that the Bible should be used as a scientific treatise to be taught in schools, and in this way help those who are trying to ridicule the Jewish and Christian faith about the creation of man and the world.
On the contrary, those supporting I.D. are serious scientists, coming from the best American Universities and well-equipped to keep the level of the debate high. Everybody should acknowledge this as a merit.
The scientific debate around neo-Darwinist theories has grown as well, and this is a positive development because, while biological evolution is a fact supported by many genetic and fossil proofs, neo-Darwinism on the contrary is just a theory, not universally accepted, that tries to explain its mechanism. From a scientific point of view the debate is still open.
In addition to that, it [neo-Darwinism] is being proposed as an ideology. The word itself “neo-Darwinism” has become more and more ambiguous, a philosophical theory more than a scientific hypothesis as the article by James Watson on the September 29th issue of “Il Corriere della Sera” sadly shows: he says "One of the greatest gifts science –and especially Darwinism- made to the world is the ongoing elimination of the supernatural." The same intolerance of creationists here is supporting scientism’s materialistic dogma.
Free From Prejudice
But watch out. Some of the ID theories are looking for evidence of an “intelligent design,” guiding the evolution of biological complexity, inside the gaps of contemporary scientific theories. They somehow remind us Newton’s position, postulating God’s intervention to compensate gravity in order to prevent the collapse of the solar system. It is a new form for the old temptation to “prove” the existence of God on an experimental basis. Let us ask ourselves: is the role of God to fill the gaps of science? Does not gravity, like other things that science can somehow “explain”, also come from God? And by the way, if we fill the gaps, what happens to God? And even more important, who are we to judge how the Creator should have created reality? Free and rational man is not afraid of God’s freedom, he doesn’t impose Him conditions. If he’s not blinded by prejudice, such man can instead admire His work, even through science.
*Professor of Astrophysics - University of Milan (Italy)
The Guardian informs us that "research has established more clearly than ever what the most likely predictors of happiness are, and there are now proven methods to treat unhappiness...The huge ambition of the small but growing happiness lobby is that the state resumes a role in promoting the good life."
Talking of "happiness," here are some statistics.
'Young people end up confused because they don't understand what sex is all about.' So let the state explain it to them. Well, what is it about?
Maybe Her Majesty's government should try and explain them what being a human being is about. Do they have any "experts" on that matter?
Some of the most intelligent comments on the gay-priests controversy have been made by blogger Eve Tushnet. At least she hints at the word nobody understands and nobody talks about, namely virginity. Once it is understood that that there is essentially one Christian vocation that is offered to all but takes different forms, then keeping homosexuals out of the priesthood (or not) is strictly a practical question. Note this observation:
"In my own life, I can't unhook the longing for beauty that drew me to the Church with the longing for the beauty I saw in other women. (And I don't especially want to unhook those things, I must admit. It seems to me that Catholic faith and chastity might be one way for me to honor those women. Look how important you were!)"
Dante would agree, except he would correctly conclude that the world has gone nuts, since this is a woman speaking...
if the mentality of young Saudi women is being shaped by Oprah.
More on the situation in Saudi Arabia from the Chicago Tribune. What is striking is the inexorable power of Western (originally Christian) ideas, at the very same time when the West itself has been quickly losing its identity. "The West plays a very important role because it gives hope to people... Even among those who hate the West..."
So, what about this 'National Strategy for Victory in Iraq' that President Bush released yesterday? First of all, it's a good idea to read the document itself, instead of just a news analysis of it.
Than, there are many interesting articles out there. Like this one by Fred Kaplan, who writes the 'War Stories' column for Slate. What about this sentence in the article: "The war in Iraq, even the war on terrorism (of which it has lately become a part, though it wasn't before Bush invaded), does not carry the same moral or strategic weight as the Cold War, much less World War II''?
If you have never read her stuff before, you may want to experience this classic tirade by Oriana Fallaci on the alliance between the left and Islam to destroy Western freedom. The most interesting part is probably the account of her recent meeting with the Pope.
In many ways the Caucasus mirrors the tragic situation of our age: a struggle between the nihilism of the old decadent "European" powers and the nihilism of Islamic ideology. The two phenomena are deeply symbiotic. One way or the other, the obliteration of the human person marks the vanishing of civilization.
This article from London illustrates the fate of a society that is no longer able to continue itself, i.e. to educate. One should not think that this trend only affects the poor: the only difference is that among rich people it manifests itself in different ways.