Collected Links

Following the lead of Jay Manifold (without any of his heavy lifting), below you may find links to works worth commenting upon. I don’t have the time (or the knowledge) to add value. (And yes, that is what bloggers are supposed to do, but view this as interactive blogging – part of our new national fitness exercises. Just because I’m lazy doesn’t mean you need to be.) Read on if these categories interest: Benedict’s speech, apocalyptic visions – superficial and dangerous, complaints about Kofi Annan.

A) An interesting & respectful discussion of the Pope’s speech by Lee Harris in the Weekly Standard discusses the traditions that developed the vocabulary for Ratzinger’s argument. Implicitly, of course, Harris challenges a belief the separate traditions – Hebrew, Greek, Roman, or Christian – could be teased out and separated when describing the base upon which our Western (U.S., Anglosphere, Europe) heritage built. Rather they interacted to give that foundation its unique character and strength. (A fact Harris clearly sees as Providential.) (via Belmont Club.) While the commentary that emerged earlier was not always as pleasant as our usual tone, I suspect this subject deserves less heated but real discussion.

B) Two authors emhasize current apocalyptic visions.

1. AL Daily links to an essay that sees it as unusually strong at this period but quite scattered. The title, “The End of the World as They Know It,” indicates how personally we take the apocalypse. Of course, again, the baby boomers are indicted (in an update to a post below, I noted we tend to think all was desert before we came and Katrina is the beginning of the deluge that will follow us – yes, perhaps we haven’t grown out of the sense that it is all about us). But the swath is wide – Al Gore, the Rapturists, Ahmadinejad, suicide bombers, neoconservatives, Jared Diamond.

2. The suicidal and apocalyptic nature of the Iraqi insurgency is discussed in “Iraq: the First Suicidal State” at Spiked. (Again, from AL Daily.) Brendan O’Neill argues:

This can be seen as the end result of the continual denigration of state sovereignty in the recent period. Since the end of the Cold War in 1989/1990, the independent state has been problematised as the source of the world’s problems.

I suspect some here will not agree with his assumptions; tribal genocide isn’t new. And the situation in Iraq is complex, as the Instapundit-linked Engram demonstrates. Some of us fear that rather than transcending the national we are retreating to the tribal. That emphasis upon the tribal is part of why, I suspect, the Iraqis don’t seem charmed by several Democrats’ solution – divide up Iraq on tribal lines and leave. Don’t these people have faith in a vision of the rule of law that transcends the tribal? Don’t they ever consider our human nature and its spotted tendencies? Such a division doesn’t seem attractive to the Iraqis for what we suspect are good reasons. O’Neill’s argument also points to the problems with C, below.

C. “Is There Blood on His Hands?” is the title of the London Times Online editorial on Kofi Annan – the tone of which is pretty clear from that title. After indicting him for Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Darfur, the second page makes the case for him. That case is an argument, above all, that the system doesn’t work and only someone like Annan would be truly acceptable. The third page discusses “what” the UN is, listing primary officers, their salaries, etc. That the world has not transcended nationalism but rather in some cases retreated to tribalism is not a happy thought but one that the last two links are likely to put in our minds.

2 thoughts on “Collected Links”

  1. Since Harris says that, in his Regensberg address, the Pope was speaking not as Roman Pontiff but as a rational man, I trust it is not presumptious to say I believe His Holiness was wrong about John Duns Scotus. The Pope, however, is not the first to attribute, wrongly, I believe, to Scotus a pure voluntarism, as this excerpt from the CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA shows:

    It has been asserted that according to Scotus the essence of God consists in His will; but the assertion is unfounded. God, he holds, is the ens infinitum. It is true that according to him God’s love for Himself and the spiration of the Holy Ghost by Father and Son are not based upon a natural instinct, so to say, but upon God’s own free choice. Every will is free, and therefore God’s will also. But His will is so perfect and His essence so infinitely good, that His free will cannot but love it. This love, therefore, is at once free and necessary. Also with regard to created things Scotus emphasizes the freedom of God, without, however, falling into the error of merely arbitrary, unmotived indeterminism.

    This is, of course, strictly an appeal to the authority of the ENCYLOPEDIA, but I believe it is right about Scotus. The medieval philosopher who, beyond doubt, DID hold the view the Pope attributed to Scotus was William of Occam.

    (BTW, I’m not so sure the Pope is as sanguine about Kant as Harris seems to think he is, though I don’t believe the Pope is antithetical to Kant either. I believe the Pope’s example of the philosopher par excellence on the relation of faith and reason would be, of course, Thomas Aquinas.)

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