Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Do they mean us?

I think there is an increasing sense of mutual alienation between European and American culture. I suspect this will reverse in a few years, but at the moment it's gaining speed. A lot of it centres on the fact that we see the US as 'too religious' and they see us as 'not religious enough'.

Here are three different deductions which US commentators have drawn from this.

Not being Christian enough means that Europeans will die out.

The declining European birthrate... on its consequences here can be little argument: European culture is a walking corpse, a chicken with its head cut off. Nobody likes to watch a headless chicken flopping around and squirting blood all over the drapes, so we tend to ignore it.

Not being Christian enough means that Europeans are lazy and good for nothing.

Niall Ferguson's essay in Sunday's New York Times Week in Review, on Max Weber and the E.U.:

It was almost a century ago that the German sociologist Max Weber published his influential essay "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism." In it, Weber argued that modern capitalism was "born from the spirit of Christian asceticism" in its specifically Protestant form - in other words, there was a link between the self-denying ethos of the Protestant sects and the behavior patterns associated with capitalism, above all hard work.

Many scholars have built careers out of criticizing Weber's thesis. Yet the experience of Western Europe in the past quarter-century offers an unexpected confirmation of it. To put it bluntly, we are witnessing the decline and fall of the Protestant work ethic in Europe. This represents the stunning triumph of secularization in Western Europe - the simultaneous decline of both Protestantism and its unique work ethic. . .

According to Gallup, 48 percent of Western Europeans almost never go to church, but the figure for Eastern Europe is just a bit less, at 44 percent. Meanwhile, 64 percent of Czechs regard God as not mattering at all - a higher rate than even in Sweden. In this respect the difference between "old" and "new" Europe may turn out to be less than many Americans now believe. Enlargement of the European Union may simply confirm the eastward spread of the leisure preference in an increasingly work-shy and Godless European continent.

The loser will be the European economy, which will continue to fall behind the United States in terms of its absolute annual output. The winner will be the spirit of secularized sloth, which has finally slain the Protestant work ethic in Europe - and Max Weber, whose famous thesis celebrates its centenary by attaining the status of verity.

Not being Christian enough means that Europeans are too sqeamish about killing people.

That last one is a corker. Antonin Scalia is a High Court Judge - he's not some nutter in Montana.

This is part of Scalia's speech:

For the believing Christian, death is no big deal.... For the non-believer, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence – what a horrible act. And besides being less likely to regard death as an utterly cataclysmic punishment, the Christian is also more likely to regard punishment in general as deserved.


  • Phew what a scorcher

    I see Gove has backed down on climate change and it's back in the curriculum again.

  • GCSE Computer Science

    My book is now for sale

  • LJ Settings

    At the moment I have set up this journal so that only friends can comment. I hate doing this, but I was just getting too much Russian spam.

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