Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cosmopolitan or Multicultural?

In Identity and Violence, the concluding sentence of which I have quoted above, Nobel Prize economist Sen meditates on what the Patriarch of Venice has well indicated as the unavoidable fact of civilizational hybridity. Sen, like Cardinal Angelo Scola, is sensitive to the concerns that many of us, who call ourselves cultural conservatives, have over what passes for multiculturalism:

“There is a real need to rethink the understanding of multiculturalism both to avoid conceptual disarray about social identity and also to resist the purposeful exploitation of the divisiveness that this conceptual disarray allows and even, to some extent, encourages. What has to be particularly avoided (if the foregoing analysis is right) is the confusion between multiculturalism with cultural liberty, on the one side, and plural monoculturalism with faith-based separatism on the other. A nation can hardly be seen as a collection of sequestered segments, with citizens being assigned fixed places in predetermined segments. Nor can Britain be seen, explicitly or by implication, as an imagined national federation of religious ethnicities.” (p. 165)

And neither can the United States — or Europe. Yes, we are members of communities of faith. But there is common humanity, and, in various places and at various times, common civilizations have flourished, each articulating that common humanity in its own unique way. Our own civilization has been fairly unique in offering hospitality to those who come to us from other civilizations and their outskirts, trusting to our common humanity and to a set of institutions and traditions designed to allow members of different communities to collaborate as neighbors, clients, and colleagues. And this has worked remarkably well, at least in America.

August 1, 2007

A Martyr for Peace

A priest came in around noon to give the condemned the last rites — and one last chance to save his neck. “I cannot and may not take an oath in favor of a government that is fighting an unjust war,” the prisoner said, and politely turned down the offer of religious tracts and a reading from the New Testament. “I am completely bound in inner union with the Lord, and any reading would only interrupt my communication with my God.” The priest never forgot the joy of his countenance. It was a year to the day since the Jewish philosopher Edith Stein, now Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, was consumed in Hitler’s Final Solution.

A week before George W. Bush arrived in Rome for their first meeting, Benedict XVI put his signature to a document proclaiming Franz Jägerstätter a martyr of the Church for refusing to serve in an unjust war, such as Benedict and John Paul the Great insisted the Bush war against Iraq has been from the beginning. The decree means that the Bishop of Linz in Austria, whose predecessor had tried to talk the farmer out of his rash act of resistance, can go ahead with the beatification; a miracle is not required, as it would be in the case of a Servant of God who was not a martyr. (A miracle will be required, however, before the Blessed Franz becomes Saint Franz.) The beatification will take place on October 26—just about the time that some observers expect a departing, lame-duck President Bush to launch a Pearl Harbor style pre-emptive attack (perhaps a nuclear one) against Iran.

From Taki's Top Drawer

July 6, 2007