CHRISTIANITY, ORTHODOX AND OTHERWISE: A LETTER TO A YOUNG KINSMAN IN EUROPE

Jack, thank you for your post card from  Amsterdam.  I had some adventures there many years ago.
I suppose we’re not going to see some things the same way, Jack.  I’m not enamored of western Europe.  Certainly in such a vast and culturally-endowed place, there is much to marvel at.  And I do sometimes think I’d like to go back to Italy for a while.  But lacking a spine and an understanding of her being and purpose, and burdened with the legacy of Teutonic “enlightenment” philosophies, Europe leads the world into the black abyss of nihilism, humanism, relativism.  Perhaps you can imagine a more painful hell than the despair of uninsulated nihilism; but I can’t right now.
For a while, the allures of the auto-centric life—the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, as they say—protect us from any sustained encounter with the abyss.  And most people seem never to come face-to-face with the truth of their condition.  But many, distantly feeling what they’re unable to articulate, work hard to distract themselves from it. 
Yet eventually, the perceptive observer’s gaze pierces the façade.  And then the glory of worldly wonders and pleasures begins to unravel.   It’s a pitiful thing to watch people in this position, grasping desperately in an ever-inflating need for diversions that become ever less diverting.  How commonly one sees this in the west today! When the lie of nihilism becomes an existential reality, when it establishes itself as an all-time noetic state; then self-destruction can appear to be an intelligent course.
This horrific state of affairs is precisely the point to which Siddhartha Gautama came on the day he left the palace of his father.  And it’s precisely the matter the Christ incarnated to address.  And that’s why I think modern and post-modern Europe is a failed idea.
Life isn’t as complicated as it sometimes seems, Jack.  There will be no Utopia on this fallen earth.  Not even in the low countries, the proclamations of Brussels notwithstanding.  “Futurists” who would anesthetize the gullible with tales of eternal life procured through organ banks and infusions of money and human cunning, fail to unveil to their rubes the fact of entropy, which they’re not reversing. 
As Hegel and others have noted, each time and place has its own Zeitgeist—that is to say, the mind or spirit of the time and place.   Our own zeitgeist, the spirit of our contemporary post-modern western culture, seems a stunningly frivolous and trivial one, its foundation laid upon the shifting sands of relativism. 
What bodes for western Europe?  Spiritually and philosophically bankrupt and therefore taking no stand for anything (except not taking a stand), it seems unlikely that she can hold her course for many more generations.  For she faces peoples of stronger wills at her borders (and within them).   Perhaps, like Rome in her protracted dying, Europe can muddle along for a couple of hundred years more on the force of her wealth and military might, despite her interior putrefaction.   Then maybe the Muslims and the Russians will parcel her up. 
Of course, our own country also has trod far down the path that Europe blazes.  Indeed, the great conflict in the world today is not Christian versus Muslim, or Russia versus Europe, or the Third World versus the developed nations.  It is the struggle, in all countries of the world, of the trite but alluring zeitgeist of the post-modern west, against traditional worldviews of far greater profundity and meaning and salvific potential.  
One wonders whether we on this side of the Atlantic can, as a people, draw instruction from Europe’s slow suicide, and perhaps avert our own?


All chapters copyright © 2016 by author N. M.; inquiries c/o St. George’s Church, P.O. Box 38, Edenton, NC.   (252) 482-2006.
CHRISTIANITY, ORTHODOX AND OTHERWISE: A LETTER TO A YOUNG KINSMAN IN EUROPE CHRISTIANITY, ORTHODOX AND OTHERWISE:  A LETTER TO A YOUNG KINSMAN IN EUROPE Reviewed by kensunm on 9:00:00 AM Rating: 5

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