Category : Europe

A picture is Worth 100 Words–The Fading Western Dream

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, England / UK, Europe, History, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance

(Guardian) Sonia Sodha–What goes on in the home is the business of the state. Here’s why

When it comes to family, where does love stop and duty begin? Sometimes that’s easily answered: evolutionary instinct moulds a parent’s love for their children into something fierce and uncomplicated. Broaden out the focus to siblings, adult children, ageing parents, aunts and uncles, and the answer is less straightforward.

Britain’s more individualistic approach to family is often contrasted with family cultures in southern Europe. There, young people tend to leave the parental home later, and it is much more common to find three or even four generations of the same family living under the one roof. But as the UK’s housing crisis has given way to a “boomerang generation” of young people in their 20s still living at home, and as the shrinking amount of state funding for older care leaves more families to fend for themselves, there are signs that we might be starting to embrace a more Mediterranean approach to family life. The question we’re not asking is: at what cost?

Britain’s cultural approach to family has long been reinforced by its economy and its education system. In Victorian Britain, working-class young people left home in their early teens to enter domestic service, at one point the country’s biggest source of jobs. Half a century ago, baby boomers came of age in a world of cheap housing and plentiful jobs, which eased their route to independence. The number of young people going to university, many of them moving away from home, has ballooned from just 2% immediately after the second world war to over 40% today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Marriage & Family, Young Adults

(RNS) In Germany, Some in the Roman Catholic Church grapple with blessings for same-sex marriage

The country’s Protestant churches already offer gay couples at least a blessing ceremony, if not a full church marriage, and even the main association for lay Catholics supports allowing blessings. While Pope Francis has ruled out approving gay marriage, he raised expectations of some kind of reform early in his papacy by famously asking “who am I to judge?” about gay people.

“Even though ‘marriage for all’ clearly differs from the church’s understanding of marriage, it is now a political reality,” Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, the deputy chairman of the German Bishops Conference, said earlier this month.

“We have to ask ourselves how we should deal with people who tie this knot. Some of them are active in the church. So how are we going to accompany them with pastoral care and in the liturgy?” Bode asked. “We could think about giving them a blessing.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(Sunday [London] Times) interviews director Andrey Zvyagintsev–‘Russia is going through a period of profound religious crisis’

Was he aware of the risks he was taking? Putin is not big on criticism. “Yes, of course, we were fully aware of what we were doing. We did touch on extremely sensitive issues for Russian people: the authorities and the Orthodox church. We were making serious problems for ourselves, but we knew what we were doing, both me and my producer.”

The Orthodox church, which, disgracefully, has become yet another Putinised institution, is a particularly sensitive target. Zvyagintsev showed the script of the final scene of Leviathan, in which ecclesiastical cruelty and complacency are exposed, only to the actors involved; he didn’t want the others implicated. What on earth has happened to Russian religion?

“Russia is going through a period of profound religious crisis. Religion has become more a kind of ritualism than a profound Christianity. This is really disturbing.

“There’s a line between Christianity and paganism. In Christianity, the line between good and evil is within ourselves. In paganism, the division is between myself and the rest of the world. What I see happening in Russia now is the extremely regressive rise of that antagonistic feeling towards the other, who is deemed evil by those who claim to be good.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Movies & Television, Orthodox Church, Paganism, Religion & Culture, Russia

(WSJ) A Fractured World: Nationalism vs. the Global Liberal Order

The global liberal order is holding up better than many feared a year ago.

In Europe, right-wing populists lost elections to the establishment in the Netherlands, Austria and France. U.S. President Donald Trump has prioritized traditional conservative causes like tax cuts over protectionism.

But globalists should not breathe easy. The nationalist insurgency is both growing and metamorphosing. It is not just eating away at relations between countries on issues such as free trade; it is also eroding the institutions and norms that prevail within countries.

This is not a problem for the global economy yet, as a synchronized upswing drives growth and stock prices higher. But it’s a shadow over the future. Populists sustained by legitimate grievances at the cultural and economic upheaval caused by globalization often govern by authoritarian or divisive means, undermining the stable, rules-based environment that businesses crave.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Switzerland

([London] Times) France gets baby blues as birthrate falls another 2.1% last year

A three-year fall in the birth rate in France is threatening its title as Europe’s most fertile nation and government policies are being blamed.

France has prided itself on policies promoting a high level of childbirth since the 1960s, and particularly in the past 20 years when populations in Europe have aged and shrunk.

The statistics office said the numbers were a delayed reaction to the financial crisis in 2008 because generous social and family benefits had cushioned a demographic impact noticed far earlier elsewhere in Europe. France has taken longer to recover than its neighbours.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Marriage & Family

(Christian Today) Irene Lancaster–Bishop George Bell was a hero who saved Jewish children. It is time his reputation was restored

…may I suggest that readers of Christian Today take some time to read the very clear report written by Lord Carlile on the way the Bishop Bell case has been handled. Then please ask yourselves if, on the evidence, Bishop Bell is guilty of child abuse as charged, or simply a victim of the workings of the Church of England.

Lord Carlile was asked by the Church authorities to look into the way the investigation of this case was handled, and has concluded that the arrangements were shockingly cavalier and that as a result a man has been found guilty without any proof whatsoever.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to read the report. And on reading it myself, it is hard not to conclude that the evidence is overwhelming that Bell is a martyr not of the Church but by the Church. And if, after reading the report on the workings of the Church of England in this case, you agree with me, don’t you think that you should do something about it?

Because the biblical Moses was asked by G-d to entreat the Pharaoh of his time to let his own Jewish people go – in words that have enthused heroes such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

But what Bishop Bell did in the 1930s was if anything even more heroic: what he did was to take on the entire Church establishment of the day to ask them to take in the tiny remnant of the Jewish community in Germany and eastern Europe. And this the Church establishment found too difficult to contemplate.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Germany, History, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(Independent) Definition of marriage has now ‘evolved’ to include same-sex couples, EU court says

The European Union must compel EU countries that have not yet legalised same-sex marriage to recognise gay weddings held in other nations, a landmark legal statement from the EU’s highest court has recommended.

The European Court of Justice’s advocate general said in an official legal opinion on Thursday morning that there had been “evolution” in the societies of EU countries, and that the idea that “the term marriage means a union between two persons of the opposite sex can no longer be followed”.

If the advocate general’s recommendation is followed by the ECJ, EU citizens will be allowed to bring in their same-sex spouses from non-EU countries to live with them in any EU member states under free movement rules – a right some countries only recognise for opposite-sex marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(FT) Bibles, cookery books and the birth of the knowledge economy–An ambitious project aims to trace the early years of Europe’s printed revolution

A knot of academics is huddled over a large bound volume in the soft light of the Bodleian Library at Oxford university, attempting to unlock the secrets buried within its 500-year-old pages.

The beautifully tooled leather binding protecting this late-15th-century Hebrew Bible — a rare survival once held in the library at Holkham Hall in Norfolk — has helped keep its printed pages in a fine state of preservation. But it is not the words of the text that hold the attention of these experts. Instead, they are interpreting and recording the fleeting evidence it retains of previous owners, whether revealed in hand-painted heraldry, scholarly annotations, scribbled thoughts or simple underlining.

It is a process they and their colleagues have gone through many times in the service of a five-year project of sweeping academic ambition: an attempt to trace the flowering of knowledge, ideas and trade in the first 50 years of Europe’s printed revolution.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Science & Technology

(TAC) Rod Dreher’s interview w/ Notre Dame political theorist Patrick Deneen about his new book, ‘Why Liberalism Failed’

We can say, then, that liberalism is the political operating system of America. Our different parties are like “apps” that operate on that liberal operating system, reflecting its deepest commitments in what are most often its main political agendas: on the Right, the picture of the emancipated individual chooser that animates libertarian economics; and on the Left, the vision of the emancipated individual chooser that animates their libertarian “lifestyle” aspirations, particularly relating to sexuality and abortion.

You write that liberalism “has failed because it has succeeded.” Explain the paradox.

The aspiration of the liberated individual was always moderated by many other historical and cultural influences, especially – in the West – by orthodox forms of Christianity. For a long time, many people of good will understandably could be strong supporters and proponents of the official liberal political philosophy of the American order because of those moderating influences. However, I argue that those moderating influences have been eviscerated by the “success” of liberalism, by its coming fully into being. In this sense, it is an ideology that remakes society in its image – not in the violent manner of those competing and defeated ideologies of fascism and communism, but, rather, in most cases, through the invitation to regard individual liberty as the highest aspiration of the successful life. However, understanding its basic commitments, we can see ways that the liberal regime has certainly been extended through the powers of the state, including through such avenues as the HHS mandate as well as less obvious ways, such as transportation and housing policy, that moved most Americans out of communities and into suburbs.

I argue, then, that we see liberalism failing because it has succeeded. As liberalism has “become more fully itself,” it becomes more immoderate and reveals the falseness of its anthropological assumptions. The breakdown of our political order as well as the loss of any kind of common culture and even civil comportment is, in a sense, the reflection of the successful artificial creation of a state of nature. We are now seeing the results of a 500-year experiment that aims at liberating the individual from social, religious and familial ties, now held together only by the belief that what we have in common is the fact that we are all rights-bearing individuals.

Read it all (2nd emphasis mine).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Books, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Philosophy

(PRC) Europe’s Growing Muslim Population–Muslims are projected to increase as a share of Europe’s population–even with no future migration

In recent years, Europe has experienced a record influx of asylum seekers fleeing conflicts in Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries. This wave of Muslim migrants has prompted debate about immigration and security policies in numerous countries and has raised questions about the current and future number of Muslims in Europe.

To see how the size of Europe’s Muslim population may change in the coming decades, Pew Research Center has modeled three scenarios that vary depending on future levels of migration. These are not efforts to predict what will happen in the future, but rather a set of projections about what could happen under different circumstances.

The baseline for all three scenarios is the Muslim population in Europe (defined here as the 28 countries presently in the European Union, plus Norway and Switzerland) as of mid-2016, estimated at 25.8 million (4.9% of the overall population) – up from 19.5 million (3.8%) in 2010.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Immigration, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sociology

“If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us!”

8.01 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31, 1934. Here representatives from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic Church. In fidelity to their Confession of Faith, members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches sought a common message for the need and temptation of the Church in our day. With gratitude to God they are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter. It was not their intention to found a new Church or to form a union. For nothing was farther from their minds than the abolition of the confessional status of our Churches. Their intention was, rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the Confession of Faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed.
8.02 Therefore the Confessional Synod calls upon the congregations to range themselves behind it in prayer, and steadfastly to gather around those pastors and teachers who are loyal to the Confessions.
8.03 Be not deceived by loose talk, as if we meant to oppose the unity of the German nation! Do not listen to the seducers who pervert our intentions, as if we wanted to break up the unity of the German Evangelical Church or to forsake the Confessions of the Fathers!
8.04 Try the spirits whether they are of God! Prove also the words of the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church to see whether they agree with Holy Scripture and with the Confessions of the Fathers. If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God, in order that God’s people be of one mind upon earth and that we in faith experience what he himself has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Therefore, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

the Barmen Declaration, cited by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Germany, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Germany Must Allow Third Gender Category, Court Rules

Germany must create a third gender category for people who do not identify as either male or female or were born with ambiguous sexual traits, the country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday, finding that binary gender designations violated the right to privacy.

In 2013, Germany became the first European country to allow parents to register newborns as neither female nor male, if the child was born with characteristics of both sexes.

The new decision, by the Federal Constitutional Court, goes further, giving lawmakers until the end of 2018 to either allow the introduction of a third gender category or dispense with gender altogether in public documents.

The ruling arrives as society, medicine and law increasingly recognize the ways in which gender is socially constructed and not necessarily fixed or stable.

Read it all (another from the long line of should have already been posted material).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Martin of Tours

Lord God of hosts, who didst clothe thy servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and didst set him as a bishop in thy Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, France, Spirituality/Prayer

(Guardian) ‘Any taboo has gone’: Netherlands sees rise in demand for euthanasia

This year, 18,000 requests for help to die have been made, including 2,500 – up from 1,234 in 2015 – to the Levenseindekliniek – the only medical facility in the Netherlands that specialises in euthanasia.

The clinic is a charity whose costs are covered by a standard Dutch health insurance policy.

Steven Pleiter, director at the clinic, said that in response to growing demand he was now on a recruitment drive aimed at doubling the number of doctors and nurses on his books willing to go into people’s homes to administer lethal injections to patients with conditions ranging from terminal illnesses to crippling psychiatric disorders.

Pleiter has 57 doctors on call but he believes he could need more than 100 by the end of next year with a growing number of people in Dutch society seeking an organised death.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, The Netherlands