- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

Culture of death

“Another problem with the attempt to condemn the whole Islamic world for terrorism is that it ignores a key piece of information: Our own culture is hardly in a place where we can blithely assert our superiority. The progression of abortion, euthanasia and attacks on the family in the West has gotten so bad that Pope John Paul II called ours a ‘culture of death.’…

“There is, of course, a crucial difference between the ‘culture of death’ in the West and the violent extremism of the East. Muslim extremists attack in the name of religion. Our own culture’s evils come as we reject our Christian roots. …

“A re-Christianized West is our strongest defense against Islamic extremism. That’s a tall order — but one John Paul II reduced to achievable goals when he asked Catholics to promote four basic practices: Sunday Mass, confession, prayer and service.

“If the Church took up that challenge, the speed of the results would surprise us. A vibrant, Christian culture of faith and life can prevail against an extremist religious onslaught. A culture of death and doubt cannot.”

from “Blaming Islam,” an editorial in the July 24 issue of the National Catholic Register

TV war

” ‘Over There,’ the Steven Bochco-produced drama about the war in Iraq … is being hailed everywhere as a groundbreaking television experiment — the first American series to fictionalize a war while that same war is actually going on. There’s a sense, in much of the press coverage of the show, that its mere existence is somehow salutary. …

“Steven Bochco’s storytelling strategy at times recalls the ‘shock and awe’ tactics of the early days in Iraq … bombarding us with spectacular proof of how awful it feels to be in the middle of a war — any war. …

“What with … vultures pecking at bodies as they fester in burned-out cars, and the nonstop ambient screaming, ‘Over There’ devotes much of its running time to making sure we realize war really is hell — a sentiment common to pretty much every war movie post-‘Catch 22.’ ”

Dana Stevens, writing on “War (in a General Sense) Is Hell,” July 27 in Slate at www.slate.com

Preserving society

“In even the shortest possible list of the attributes of a civilization, you are certain to discover the feature of transgenerational stability. A civilization must have a proven track record of cultural permanence, which is to say that it must be a multi-generational project.

“A civilization must be passed, with its fundaments pretty much intact, from one generation to the next; and this is especially true when we are dealing with civilizations whose civilizing process requires a stern renunciation of … ungovernable impulses, unruly desires, a lack of consideration or feeling for the well-being of others, sexual promiscuity, prodigal expenditures on passing fads, and so on.

“In short, the loftier the ethical ideal of a civilization is, the harder it must work to preserve this ideal. …

“If a society wishes to find a way of ensuring that newly emergent and valuable techniques are passed on and preserved, its members must feel themselves under an ethical obligation to leave the best possible world not only for their children, but also for their grandchildren.”

Lee Harris, writing on “The Future of Tradition,” in the June-July issue of Policy Review

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