Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Pope and Reason

Rich Leonardi points us to something interesting:

Voltaire is surely spinning in his grave: "The Acton Institute's Dr. Samuel Gregg on how Pope Benedict is challenging the Spirit of '68:

But rather than pursuing an old-fashioned culture war, Benedict’s challenge to Western Europe’s post-’68 consensus has surprised many.

First, Benedict treats his audiences as if they are adults with attention spans that exceed twenty seconds. Perhaps that explains why Benedict has thousands coming to listen to him most Wednesdays in St Peter’s Square.

Second, Benedict engages serious matters with a clarity that cuts through the clichéd empty phraseology of Western Europe’s political classes.

Third, Benedict’s arguments go to the heart of Western Europe’s civilizational crisis. He has forced open public discussion of fundamental questions that ’68ers invariably ignore.

His famous 2006 Regensburg lecture, for instance, not only initiated an overdue conversation about Islam’s understanding of God, but also identified Europe’s problems as flowing partly from modern Europeans’ truncated grasp of the nature of reason.

Is Benedict having an impact? Jürgen Habermas, the atheist German philosopher widely regarded as 1968’s intellectual godfather, is certainly paying attention. He argues Benedict is asking questions about human reason that Europeans cannot avoid if Europe is to have a future.

Voltaire is surely spinning in his grave to know that 21st century Europe’s apostle of reason – reason in all its fullness rather than a narrowly technical-utilitarian understanding – is the Roman Pontiff.

(Via Ten Reasons.)

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