I bet it never crossed the minds of many living during the Dark Ages that they were particularly dark, or of those living during the decline and fall of the Roman Empire that it was speedily declining, let alone falling. Since the Owl of Minerva flies at dusk, and hindsight is 20/20, it appears to be an inexorable law of both history and human nature that men recognize the "signs of the times" only after those times have passed.
One of the most astute "sign readers" of today is the reigning Pope. Here is one of Benedict XVI’s most startling yet accurate readings: "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goals one’s own ego and one’s own desires." If I might put it into less philosophical terms, what the Holy Father is telling us is that Western culture is descending into barbarism.
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If our reading of the signs of the times is correct, then what we are moving towards—and perhaps have already arrived at—is the fall of Western classical and Christian civilization, the emergence of a sophisticated spiritual barbarism that makes the barbarism of the past look like high-culture, and a new Dark Ages. Is it too late to save it? It is certainly far past preventive measures, for our culture is already in the late stages of its terminal illness. But with the grace of God, it is not too late for a miraculous healing and full recovery—even a resurrection—if only we could find the right cultural medicine and plenty of trained doctors to administer it. Time is running out, for the darkness is fast approaching, nay, is already here. Alasdair MacIntyre, one of the preeminent philosophical doctors of our time, offers his diagnosis and prescription:
What they set themselves to achieve instead was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness... What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us.
The "they" MacIntyre refers to here are St Benedict and his followers, men who had read carefully the signs of their 6th Century times, the first Dark Ages, and acted accordingly. As the darkness of barbarism approached, they fled to the desert, carrying with them as much of the precious Christian and classical civilization as they could hold in their souls. These were the seeds that, due to the pure water of their prayers, the luminous light of their labors, and the rich soil of their studies, would flower six centuries later as the civilization we call Christendom. Alasdair MacIntyre ends his stupendous analysis of modern culture, After Virtue, by calling for a new St Benedict to lead the barbarians out of the spiritual desert that is our godless, technocratic, secular culture to plant the seeds for a new Christendom.
In truth, we do have a new Benedict in our midst, and his name is Joseph Ratzinger: Pope Benedict XVI. An expert reader of the "signs of the times," it is no wonder that the world, in spite of its protestations of disbelief, still looks to the Pope for spiritual guidance.More >>>
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Must Read - BXVI & Hollow Barbarians
Thaddeus J. Kozinski at Mercatornet writes,