Cardinal Ratzinger’s Challenge (washingtonpost.com): “The modern world, Ratzinger insisted, has jumped ‘from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, up to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and on and on.'”The new Pope, Benedict XVI, is exactly right. This is the most hopeful statement from a world leader I have read in some time.There exists in our culture a confusion of liberty with a libertine lifestyle. This lifestyle ends up enslaving men to their passions. Benedict XVI understands this problem.A man doing a thing he knows is wrong in his deepest heart cannot stand any disagreement. Any voice raised questioning his folly reveals that folly all too clearly. The leader who will parade naked cannot stand even a child to say that he has no clothes. This is why our pop culture hates a move like “The Passion of the Christ.” It contains a message that cannot be merely marketed and controlled. No one can spin the Cross.Jesus Christ is Lord of all. This is not a message that the decadent parts of the West can stand to hear. Having been given liberty by the Christian faith, the dying West presumes to believe that they can outgrow that faith and decide for themselves, outside of any community of faith, what the Word of God is. Some even decide that they are little gods themselves. . . taking the image of God in themselves and worshipping it.Benedict understands the danger this poses to men.These men find that their god is too small. Having become an idol, their minds become like stone and wood, unable to be flexible. The secularist, if he is not very careful, always turns to power and its use. His god-given inner heart screams out that he is behaving badly and so he must still any voice that disagrees. He must lock himself in secular conclaves of agreement like those found in the modern university and entertainment worlds. Unlike the sacred conclave that elects the pope, there is not, even in principle, some outside power that can come and illumenate. Cardinals seek the Holy Spirit to mold their minds. The decadent secularist seeks only to know his own mind.These men makes themselves lonely to support their unsupportable lifestyles.For the secularist there is no higher reality or calling than that found in mankind. In the end, in a world without metaphysics even mankind vanishes and the man is trapped in his own atomized world. He is alone with himself. . . the only servant of his god.Pope Benedict XVI understands this problem. He is a brilliant man and is willing to say in thoughtful, but forceful words that the our culture is naked.Wait for the media storm to follow the honeymoon.Bendict XVI has long been a friend of the true West and the foe of those who would represent that Western civilization is best described by Starbucks and MTV morals. He knows that the Madonna of the West in not the Madonna of pop culture. He knows that the modern academy has given up on foundational beliefs and so has plunged into the utter folly of post-modernism.Only in the wise rule of the Creator God can mankind find a foundation for knowledge and good politics. In rights given to us by our Creator, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, stand as a bulwark against statism and the abuse of power.In the Monarchy of God there is provided space for the Republic of Men.Three other trivial observations on the election:1. The Italian hold on the papacy is broken forever.2. Germany has been restored fully to the community of nations. World War II is not forgotten, but Germany is not trapped in its fascist past.3. There is no “liberal” wing to the Roman Catholic Church.
Essay / Culture