Yet still, how can the Christian religion exist as an integral "living part" of any new pan European state? In such circumstances what will constitute the historical, cultural and spiritual identity of this new state?
I don’t believe that the so-called secular values of “liberty” accompanied by the unfettered and crass pursuit of happiness at all costs, is a creditable answer, to the identity crises that the European Union evidently faces now. These values have become nothing more than, a set of debased economic and political slogans that have found a new murky half life in the almost indistinguishable rhetoric shared between politics and big business interests. At most all these “Secular values” offer is a “vision” of a vague, lukewarm “feeling” or “sentiment” representing a non-descript “togetherness” which coincidentally, if not surprisingly describes the exact subtext out of which modern capitalism and consumerism draw their murky, if functional “inspiration” for what modern man and society means to them.
If Evil also has its own hierarchy of “virtues” and a corresponding nobility of spirit, then it is possible to talk about the different types of social, political, economic and religious corruption that have beset mankind, and Europe in particular in the last century. Nazism and Communism where evils that did not flourish or bloom in isolation, they represent a brutal evil reaction both against, yet paradoxically with the original organic culture which they denounced as been evil. This point is important and often forgotten. Yet why did the predominately Christian liberal democracies fail, and not oppose more radically (Denmark been a notable exception) the evil that was propagating in all directions around them? Why were so many well-educated Christian Europeans willing to turn a blind eye to this?
Surely part of the answer must be related to what an early poster remarked about Flauberts pertinent observations regarding the Christian religion in Europe. Perhaps the reason why so many good, loving, and well-educated European Christians couldn’t consciously oppose the twin evils of Nazism and Communism can be traced to the corruption of their own religions and societies. It was this corruption, which I believe both the Communists and Nazis detected and, exploited to their own advantages, and that resulted in some of the most terrible evils in human history.
However, the point is not merely an historical one. What is good and true remains the eternal ideal of which mankind will become, yet what is Evil can change and transmute itself in order to appear “refined” “progressive” “tolerant” and “liberal”. The values of tolerance and liberty are amongst some of the highest and most spacious ideals that can be discovered and found in the inner life, in which not only the idea of the true Christian, but also the “life” in the fullest sense of that term, meaning the “true man” who is part of the divine order of creation. These values become empty and corrupt when they used without any inner context in the modern world, and this is perhaps one of the greatest sources of evil.
I think the notion of trying to externally build some type of “Christian Europe” even through such documents, as a European Constitution would currently be nothing more than an exercise in futility and hypocrisy. Many of the Christian churches and the Catholic church in particular have lost the language of how to speak, inwardly about what the life of a Christian should mean, in both the human and divine sense. Until the Churches start to externally renounce much of their obscene wealth and their implicit support for the development of the “functional” replaceable and disposable man and women of the capitalist system, I can’t really see any meaingful future for Europe or a Christianity that no longer has any deep living significane.
If you build a house on something which has no roots to support it from beneath, there can never be a true foundation, and when that happens nothing of substance will ever again hold and gather the dispersed soils into the one place, and even the greatest external mounments and palaces will sink back into the sea of half-hearted forgetfulness and disbeleive.
I shall agree wholeheartedly with James, that the secular values of "liberty" and the "pursuit of happiness" is not the answer Europe is looking for to solve her identity crisis. Georges asked, Why should Europe recognize Christianity as one of her historical pillar if Christianity is little more than a word on a paper? Christianity is a faith that must be lived out. We can therefore ask, As religious beliefs wane, can Europe rediscover her past self, that is Christianity? Are Europeans concluding the second chapter of their long history? But what, first, is secularism. I here mean the principle of separation of church and state. Secularism is therefore not synonymous with Atheism. The last question of the opening post asked: "Finally (and I apologise for asking more than one question) why do many secular Europeans fear the growth of Islam? Is it to do with the fact that Islam represents a real fear to the comfortable bourgeois mentality (rather than anything to do with clashes of civilisations or terrorism) who cannot comprehend how a group of people can believe with such conviction and faith in a supreme being very similar to the one they have all since long ago ceased believing in?"
Asking this, James, you answer your own question. Christianity has been substituted with a new faith, the faith in scientism, that science is the key to happiness. Beginning with the Age of "Reason," faith in science began to replace faith in a supreme divinity. It has failed. Science, which was seen as the new Savior of Humankind, has after 200 years unleashed the Antichrist, and the human species, our own, is facing the greatest danger it has ever faced. Blind faith in unlimited growth, production and capitalism has produced more evil than perhaps ever before in the history of mankind. What weigh the souls of the victims of the Inquisition in front of the victims of racial slavery, chemical warfare and food contamination?
What, then, should be Europe? Not a federation of Nation-State, as F. Mitterand and J. Fischer said. As long as the Nation-State remains, capitalism, which it serves, will remain. Deconstructing the Nation-State such as we know it, and reconstructing a union of peoples (in the plural), will ensure that the dry and soulless ideologies of capitalism and scientism will vanish. Then, and then only, will the peoples living within Europe rediscover religion. Why has Europe walked on the road of deconstruction for so many centuries? Modern Europe believed in "capitalism." The cause she was born for was doomed. Let us now write the third chapter of European history.
What really should concern us is not the future of Christianity in Europe. Any true form of religion, as every true form of everything surrounding us, can adjust and survive throughout the ages.
What concerns me in particular is not religion in its theoretical form. I prefer to live within religion than discussing endlessly the theoretical future of a Christian Europe.
What also concers me is that belief in some religions has been disconnected from its source, namely the scripture or the genuine interpretation derriving from the whole corps of the believers.
When religion -any religion- disconnects from the original meaning, dangers derrive for the potential "enemies" or "unbelievers". That is the real threat, not only for Europe, but for the whole world.
And I do not think, for instance, that the uneducated citizen of the underdeveloped world, blinded by the sermons of his fanatizing leader, cares so much about capitalism, nazism or communism. On the contrary, he believes in fanatism.
Dear George, I once read a book called "Η χώρα των έσχατων πραγμάτων", I cannot recall the english title or the name of the, american I think ,author, where I think one can have a picture of the form of the new nazism or the new communism that is now being prepared for all of us.