Thursday, January 19, 2006

Du Bist Deutschland ...

The latest issue of First Things arrived in the mail. Which means a good chunk of the evening (one of those free evenings when I'm at home) was taken up in the delight of perusing the fine stuff the folks there produce. Fr. Neuhaus' "The Public Square" is always fun (though I rarely agree with everything he says. That's not the point though.). It's the pre-blog blog, as he takes us through various events, ecclesiastical and cultural, with that dry with and disdain of his ...

Here's a little sample:
Du bist ALbert Einstein. Germans are being treated to a television barrage of slick commercials aimed at elevating their self-esteem. Germans are feeling poorly about themselves. The economy is s tagnant, the culture is in the doldrums, the churches are relics, and it seems nobody but Muslim immigrants is having babies. Forty years ago, German thinkers produced a "philosophy of the future" and "theology of the future." And now there is no future. One commercial says: "Beat your wings. Uproot trees. You are the wings. You are the tree. You are Germany." It is the fatuity of deep depression. Not many years ago, Germany was to be reinvigorated by the reunification of East and West. The West poured billions upon billions into the East, and it seems to have vanished without a trace. Richard Bernstein writes: "Now the westerners are unhappy because the disappearance of all that money is seen as the root of Germany's economic stagnation and high unemployment. The easterners are notoriously unhappy because life is less secure than it used to be under Communism, and, as this cycle continues, the westerners are irritated that the easterners are unhappy." In the nineteenth century, Germany was the model of high culture; in the twentieth, the archetype of barbarity. That was briefly followed by a celebrated economic miracle and success in democratic government. As Steven Ozment writes in A Mighty Fortress, Germans want so desperately to be a normal nation (While We're At It, November 2004). At the same time, they decided, couple by couple, not to have babies, not to have a future, not to have hope. It seems the last thing Germans need to hear is "Du bist Einstein."
How interesting that at this very moment, the top search on Technorati is "Du bist Deutschalnd." Prompted, no doubt, by all those fine First Things readers who are out trying to learn more ... :-)

[Oh, and among many many absolutely delicious things in this issue, there is a review of a book on the Gunpowder Plot -- "God's Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot." by Alice Hogge, reviewed by Amy Welborn. It sounds absolutely delightful. Cannot wait!]

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