Thursday, October 11, 2007
The following quote-within-a-quote is from a book review titled, Twenty Centuries of Conversation, by Dennis O’Brien in America. The book reviewed is The Secular Age, by Charles Taylor (not that friend of televangelist Pat Robinson, the corrupt diamond peddler and former President of Liberia, but the Catholic philosopher from Montreal and McGill University): “To be heard, the church will have to abandon “a longstanding obsession...to nail down [issues] with ultimate, unattainable and finally self-destructive precision.”” How true. I think the current Pope doesn’t see this (Has any Pope since John XXIII?). Our secular age is as much (more!) gift as bane.
From the article, Apocalypse Now?, by Stephen Holmes in The Nation comes this long quote-within-a-quote. It is something to think about. The article is a review of Chalmers Johnson’s new book Nemesis, the third volume of "an inadvertent trilogy" that includes Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire. Here it is: “Johnson speculates that we have already entered the "last days" of the Republic. America's post-World War II "imperialism," he predicts, will soon put an end to self-government in the United States: "I believe that to maintain our empire abroad requires resources and commitments that will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and in the end produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent." The destruction of the American Republic may even illustrate a profound historical regularity, he implies: "Over any fairly lengthy period of time, successful imperialism requires that a domestic republic or a domestic democracy change into a domestic tyranny." He even thinks that the American military is now "ripe" for "a Julius Caesar"--that is, for "a revolutionary, military populist with little interest in republican niceties so long as some form of emperorship lies at the end of his rocky path."” This is, of course, an intentional juxtaposing of the Rome Empire with the U.S. Certainly a historical parallel but not a certainty. Though I think we need to reread Jacques Ellul. The end of the Republic is possible.
From the article, The Sting of Death: Why We Yearn for Eternity, by Charles Taylor and published in Commonweal. The article is an excerpt from his voluminous new book A Secular Age. “The secular age is schizophrenic, or better, deeply cross-pressured. People seem at a safe distance from religion, and yet they are very moved to know that there are dedicated believers, like Mother Teresa (I would add such figures as the Dali Lama in there too). The unbelieving world, well used to disliking Pius XII, was bowled over by John XXIII. A pope just had to sound like a Christian, and many immemorial resistances melted. Il fallait y penser. It’s as though many people who don’t want to follow want nevertheless to hear the message of Christ, want it to be proclaimed out there. The paradox was evident in the response to the late pope. Many people were inspired by John Paul’s public, peripatetic preaching about love, about world peace, about international economic justice. They are thrilled that these things are being said. But even many Catholics among his admirers didn’t feel that they must follow all his moral injunctions. And in an expressive, post-Durkheimian world, this is not a contradiction. It makes perfect sense. Such are the strange and complex conditions of belief in our age.” Indeed, it makes good sense.