By Diogenes (articles ) | May 08, 2006
From Mark Steyn, some mordant observations on the blind spots of self-congratulatory Euro-secularism:
Commentators like Andrew Sullivan have attacked Ramesh Ponnuru, somewhat hysterically, not for his book's argument but for its title [sc., The Party of Death]. In fact, the author got it from Ronald Dworkin, a liberal legal theorist, pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia, but nevertheless intellectually honest enough to admit that these are "choices for death." They lead not just to literal death but to a societal and spiritual death, too. In The Cube and the Cathedral, George Weigel begins his lively dissection of "politics without God" with a bracing series of questions, including the following:
"Why do certain parts of Europe exhibit a curious, even bizarre, approach to death? Why did so many of the French prefer to continue their summer vacations during the European heat wave of 2003, leaving their parents unburied and warehoused in refrigerated lockers (which were soon overflowing)? Why is death increasingly anonymous in Germany, with no death notice in the newspapers, no church funeral ceremony, no secular memorial service -- 'as though,' Richard John Neuhaus observed, 'the deceased did not exist'?"
You really need a Euro-Michael Adams to answer those questions -- to point out that Americans' collapsing communities are driving them to flock to grim rain-swept cemeteries and huddle round burial plots of friends and family in the forlorn hope of recovering the lost sense of society obliterated by their paranoid Second Amendment fearfulness, while the Frenchman by contrast affirms his belief both in personal interconnectedness and collective responsibility by spending the weekend with his wife's sister at a nude beach on the Côte d'Azur, secure in the knowledge that his dead mother on ice in the meat locker back in town is the state's problem, not his.
I've been told that one of the archeological clues that tell paleontologists their dig has come upon the remains of men (hominids) rather than apes is the existence of gravesites. Human beings bury their dead; animals don't. Now it appears truly advanced thinkers rarely take thought for the comrades-turned-carcasses that circumstances scatter in their path. The trousered ape (in C.S. Lewis's language), having taken leave of his God, puts his humanity behind him also.
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