Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dissecting relativism, The Base (I): Demolishing relativism and its obnoxious relatives

The International political situation is getting more complicated and news items are getting grimmer by the day. While the Iranian, Syrian and Turkish wolves are encircling the dying remnants of Mesopotamia, ready to carve it up into three parts, rid it of its oil reserves and call such a concept as an independent Kurdish state a prospect of the past, Lebanon and Palestine are in trouble in more ways than one. In the meantime Pakistan is doing business in the time-honoured way in that part of the world, by playing two or more tableaus at once, and saying yes and doing another. Lest we forget we owe the existence of the Taliban to Pakistan, then ruled by the first female Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto! Apparently the hens are coming home to roost.
I belief it is just a matter of time before the fur starts flying seriously. The only question is whom against whom?

In the meantime I owe a book review of "Without Roots" (tagged The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam) and co-written by Marcello Pera, Professor of Science Philosophy at the University of Pisa and former President of the Italian Senate, and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict XVI was known before his election. Since however, this book is nothing less than at the very heart of this blog, I can hardly treat it as any other. If I followed what I'd really wish, I'd dissect it here page by page, word by word. But that would be taking the entire book apart, which would ne'er do. So, I think it suffices to say with sincere respect, but in rather domestic terms, that this is The Cookery Book for the next thirty to forty years or so, or at least until we have rid ourselves of the bane of our time, relativism and its big bully of a brother deconstructionism, including its little ugly cousins once removed, political correctness and multiculturalism. But we can analyse the problem, can't we?

Dissecting relativism, The base (I) (which is al qa'ida in Arabic, but that's just an unpleasant coincidence and is neither here nor there).
The West's secularization, which has firmly set in at the end of World War II, is still in progress, but if signs don't deceive us at a less rapid pace than during the period roughly between 1980 and 2000. But by now there have been generations of children growing up without having learned about their Christian heritage, either from their parents or their (secular) teachers. Mom and dad have done away with faith and the church as something of their parents and grandparents', a relic of the past which has no place in modern society, that is all about getting an education, a home and a car, keeping up with the holidays of the neighbours and all other material wealth we think we need to be happy and healthy.

As the years went by this generation of baby-boomers rid themselves of the last remnants of their Christian "hang-up" of their youths: a frustrated sexuality, the feeling of being watched from above and the angst of being punished for bad mistakes in the after-life. Subconsciously they retained however a basic Christian morality: nothing elaborate, but what we must, or shouldn't do, like killing other people or stealing. But they also still felt guilty about telling lies and they kept true to other past values as solidarity, compassion, empathy and belief in the truth.

Of course they didn't want to "lumber" their children with the fears and inhibitions of their youths, so what the younger generation got from the faith of their parents were a few atmospheric stories for under the Christmas tree and a vague historical account of what is Easter. Christian official feast days could just as well be called bank holidays for all they are worth: a day to sleep in from the night before and keep up with the admin or homework. If those children happened to attend a faith-based school, their knowledge and awareness may go a little further than just skin-deep, but not very much. That is the extent of it.
To be continued.

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