I returned home a few minutes ago from renewing my driver’s license. During the time that I spent at the license bureau, at least two hundred people stood in line waiting their turns. Not a single person (other than me) brought a book to read.
I rode out to the gigantic shopping mall on the east side of town for the first time in over a year this afternoon. There used to be two bookstores there. Today I found none. There were plenty of shoe stores, though. One of my ideas of Hell is a huge, crowded, noisy mall without a bookstore, and there it is. I doubt that I’ll ever go there again. (There is a Barnes & Noble nearby, but because of road destruction it is inaccessible to bicycles.)
Last spring, Gilles de Robien, France’s Education Minister, declared that schools in suburban Paris would teach more grammar and vocabulary to integrate immigrants and prevent future riots. The British Minister of State for Schools, Jim Knight, immediately called this Frenchie rot. He insisted that grammar and vocabulary are elitist, and therefore are what cause youth riots.
Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivivic
Would I could fathom thy matter specific
Lustily proud in the ether capacious
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous.
This is not to say that great art and writing requires Christianity. Far from it. But I think that art beyond a certain level requires belief in something beyond the everyday material reality. Homer wrote great poetry because he wrote of the struggles of men against fate and the caprices of the gods. Virgil dealt with the conflicting moral claims that resulted from an emerging sense of objective, philosophically-based morality vs. a lingering conviction that it was necessary to do the will of the gods. Norse mythology dealt with a pantheon which was itself doomed, and yet that sense of looming destruction also held out hope for a world reborn without the pain and conflict of the present one. All of these can inspire great art.
Perhaps because it is such a modern, urban, middle-class phenomenon, the current round of strident atheist writers project instead a sense of inward-looking self satisfaction. A smallness. How could someone produce much interesting in the way of art who adhered to Richard Dawkins’ “secular commandments” which include things like “Do not indoctrinate your children” and “Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody else)”?
These journalists – and many of their sources – show absolutely no evidence of ever having read anything Benedict has written – whether we’re talking about his books as Joseph Ratzinger or, more criminally, the homilies he preached, you know, last week.
This constant refusal to just report on what the Pope says (unless it is a phrase containing the words “Iraq,” “abortion” or “politician”) is getting more than tiresome. How many journalists reporting on Benedict in the secular English-speaking mainstream media are even making an effort to listen to and understand Benedict on his own terms?
And from the comments:
The MSM are part of the demographic mix of elites that is now 2 generations detached from religious connectivity. The idea of a spiritual or interior life is alien to them. Itâ€™s not that Benedictâ€™s theological/philosophical reasoning is different than their own. They generally never reason about a theological or philosophical framework at all. Given that, they can only write about Benedict from a pedestrian context because thatâ€™s the only context in which they live. When the MSM reports on Benedict, think the depth of the Seinfeld characters without the laughs.