Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jenkins, Neuhaus, and Europe

I have the opportunity of reading Richard John Neuhaus's The Much Exaggerated Death of Europe . He wrote something about Philip Jenkins's God's Continent: The Coming of Global Christianity over at the First Things magazine. I did not read Philip's book but basing upon the review done by Richard, I think, it is much also to ponder, since it does not concern only to Europe's fate but so is Christianity's. One particular term I have gathered in his essay is deracinated or if turned to be a noun, deracination. This is particularly interesting since, indeed, Europe is experiencing low birth rates and higher life expectancies. Within a generation or two, it would become apparent that other racial stock would replenish its dying population as George Wiegel repeatedly points out in his interview over at EWTN sometime ago. That would spell a kind of European race death.

The sort of Philip's own raciocination is that what these "prophets of doom" have always been prognosing does not come closer to any of their predictions. He actually paints a more hopeful Europe, unlike the ones being portrayed by Wiegel, Bat Y'eor, Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, and Mark Steyn. Towards the end of the prose, Neuhaus raised some questions that have logical implications, pointing against Philip's own positive assessment of the following: islamic immigration's history and affectation to the larger secular context of present day Europe, the creative minority status of Christian in the midst of Eurosecularity, the presence of moderate Islam and some scholarship whose projection is toward an attempt of using modern techniques in Quranic exegecies, the correlative apposition of European particularity and American experience, etc.

All in all, it remains for us to see in the next decades whose particular assessment could give a true picture of the fate of Europe. It is true that today Christianity is in the defense for its own identity, where tensions speak of a greater reality in behalf of the rest of the world. The threat posed by Islam is not a threat posed only to religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc. It is a threat that poses the individual freedom to coexist within a state as defined by political theories and concepts as patrimony in what we now call as western civilization. The states under Muslim sway is radically different from the concept of constitutional governments at the very least.

Thus, I firmly believe that if Christianity loses in this battle with Islam, everything else will be confronted and would spell how its fate would turn out to be. Let us quite remember that, though there are many instances that the Church and the secular institutions and ideas had had its altercations on several issues and fronts and that violence is not exempted within the Christian milieu, the environment in which reason has thrived has been fostered in greater part by Christianity and saw its development to the fullest possible as evident in the sciences, mathematical, sociological, intellectual, technological, medical, and the quality of state of life experienced by some Christian countries. This is not to disparage some countries who have seen growth and expansive economies and life like Japan and some Middle East countries. However, we must take into account how does Europe and America stand in relation to these countries. Hasn't it not been that these countries benefited by the influences of Europe and America in part? Hence, the symbiotic relationship of Christianity and reason is truly one that is quite significant in its scope and breadth and cannot in any way be downgraded as something fleeting and transient, as though reason could find its total independence from other factors it is being surrounded with.

Let us not be too naive to think that man could exist as purely non-religious. Man's apprehension toward a transcendent reality has had a far longer precedent than the history of science. Long before man used his mind to build complex implements, he had had some vague concepts of otherworldly realities as evident by Neanderthal's practice of burying their dead. Therefore, science has to coexist with the spirituality of man, which has had noble consequences in the history of the world. Some of the great historical events have been done in favor for religion and beliefs. This is no truer than what the present Pope has pointed out that it is almost like an offense to the most religious peoples on earth that the question of belief and faith is sidetracked and marginalized to favor a materialistic concept of reality.

This is indeed why I would lament that the death of Christianity would signal a death of one of reason's cradle. Exactly, it is not reasonable to paint a grim and negative picture on how Islam will confront reason at its naked self; however, it is quite another when history tells us on past and present sign posts for the future. Though I am negative to the total death of Christianity, it does not seem to me good that the remarkable feat of the synthesis of this great religion and reason would turn out to be a muted spectator, sidelined and brushed off as "creative minority" as Jenkins would like to agree. After all, it's oxymoronic to state the creative minority of Christianity when it stands as a muted character in a secular state it has become hostile with.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The MTs That Were

I have just finished my x-ray examination, and it will be taken before 12 noon. My life has taken another turn again. This time another kind of job in another kind of setting. There is really this feeling of abandonment and desertion of the past that you cling to somehow. Though I am still to start with this new job, the nostalgia of two years in medical transcription still reigns in on me. It is true then that old horse die hard; only this time it is a job which is the horse. Were it not of the resolve to meet new mornings of opportunities, I would have rather succumbed to an agonizing reminicience. It is not looking backward to the job per se which I loathed much to, but it is the thinking of those personalities whom you had been for two years and a month that you have had the hardest cleaving from.

You become factually helpless when you acknowledge that indeed your group becomes you and you become your group. Doubtless that there are difficulties each one had encountered through the two years, but the homogeneity of a specific population of medical transcriptionists could not be ruled out as if it does not exist. Maybe there was a rift between two camps inside our work, but the rift is but a part of that uniformity of life we had become accustomed to. This is usually because we have known the character of each of us that it is easy to conclude that we are patterned in each one's mind. We expect to see that which we have expecting to see. So much of that much that my memory of the group can distinctly classify each one of my colleagues that their own personality and identity shows amidst the variance it is found within. When I happen to think of Mitchelle, the one at my right, she is captured in my mind as something this and not that. I could perfectly describe her.

This is one of the many reasons why thinking of them could not help my wistful bent. This is what keeps on gluing my mind to. I do not know if in any particular way my colleagues my find themselves in like manner, but I think in more than one occasion even if days have passed us by and many a year has left us, they would turn their attention for once to that two years they had spent and somehow conclude that it changed them.

The background circumstance is another matter of the story. Though the centrifugal force is apparent within the group, what binds us is one acknowledged enemy. Externally speaking, this common ground of perceived enemy has at least the adherence that we can all speak in one mind. But more than just from any external factor, there is indeed an internal cohesive force that each one tends to. Though it might be hard to admit it for some, we have liked each other for the most part if only in a subjective-relative sense. What do I mean? Each one of us admits difference as an inherent value, however, this difference in more ways becomes a bridge to each one in his identification of who he really is. Like Marigold, she is closely identified with her christian values and sets quite a landmark of this in her behaving towards her colleagues, and this becomes more than a demarcation on the sand because everyday she is challenged to pursue her identity against the perceived threat in the beliefs of some of her colleagues. So more than an identified fact, it is that others are sustained by the presence of others.

But of course there are others which vaccilate from one end to another; those who belong to the gray zone. If it is of any political nuance, they are the center field. They are the people who might believe what the left profess or swing to the right if they find their affinity to it. For myself, I would rather describe myself as right center. I am one of those whose attraction is close to the likes of Marigolds in some things, while keeping in touch with the likes of Michelle Cruzs.

What can be fierce is when they chose to forget and never recognize that inherent goodness of such an encounter. If one becomes to wallow on the superficial feelings of hate and hostility and never getting beyond the thick of things and depth of reality. They would lose the opportunity of an existential value of such an encounter considering that such would not occur again probably.