George Weigel was in Boston last week and gave a talk at St. Paul Church in Cambridge on the “civilization crisis” for Europe. Building off themes found in his 2005 book “The Cube and the Cathedral”, he traced Europe’s fall from being the “undisputed center of world civilization” before the start of the 20th century to today’s plummeting birth rates, economic stagnation, and crisis of identity. How did it happen?
The fate of nations is bound up in their cultures—“what men and women believe, cherish, work, and are prepared to die for”—and European culture has become hostile to Christianity, Weigel argues. “The God of the Bible came to be perceived as the enemy of human liberation,” he declared, exemplified by the refusal in 2004, in the drafting of the proposed European constitution, to acknowledge Christianity as a major source of European civilization.
The only hope for Europe is a re-discovery of her Christian heritage and, more importantly, Christian faith, because it is difficult to sustain a nihilistic culture that rejects transcendent moral values. In fact, if such a culture refuses to find such values, it is doomed to be replaced by one—Islam—that will impose moral values even if they are not the values we would share.
What does it mean for America?