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The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics without God [Unknown Binding]

George Weigel
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2005
Why do Europeans and Americans see the world so differently? Why do Europeans and Americans have such different understandings of democracy and its discontents in the twenty-first century? Why is Europe dying, demographically? George Weigel offers a penetrating critique of 'Europe's problem' and draws out its lessons for the rest of the democratic world. Contrasting the civilization that produced the starkly modernist 'cube' of the Great Arch of La Defense in Paris with the civilization that produced the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Weigel argues that Europe's embrace of a narrow and cramped secularism has led to a crisis of civilizational morale that is eroding Europe's soul and failing to create the European future. Reminding us that history is read most acutely through cultural, rather than political or economic, lenses, Weigel traces the origins of 'Europe's problem' - which first became lethally evident in World War I - to the atheistic humanism of nineteenth-century European intellectual life: setting in motion an historical process that eventually produced two world wars, three totalitarian systems, the Gulag, Auschwitz, the Cold War - and, most ominously, the Continent's depopulation, which is worse today than during the Black Death. Yet many European leaders continue to insist - most recently, during the debate over a new European consititution - that only a public square shorn of religiously informed moral argument is safe for human rights and democracy. Precisely the opposite is true, Weigel suggests: the people of the 'cathedral' can give a compelling account of their commitment to everyone's freedom; the people of the 'cube' cannot. Can there be any true 'politics' - any true deliberation about the common good, and any robust defence of freedom - without God? Geeorge Weigel makes a powerful case that the answer is 'No' - because, in the final analysis, societies and cultures are only as great as their spiritual aspirations. George Weigel offers Europeans a profound analysis of the moral and cultural decline of their culture and their society. Europe's collapse of morale, its power-deficit, and its depopulation have profound implications for the future of Western Civilization, not only in Europe, but also in America, Australia and throughout the world. Geroge Weigel, a Roman Catholic theologian and one of America's most distinguished public intellectuals, is the author of the acclaimed international bestseller, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II. Three of his other books - Soul of the World, The Truth of Catholicism, and Letters to a Young Catholic - are also published by Gracewing.

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Gracewing Publishing (1 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0852446489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852446485
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,406,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What really is going on in Europe 6 Jun 2005
Format:Unknown Binding
This is an excellent essay about the the undercurrents of contemporary European culture. It explains the direction which the EU's leaders (the 1968 generation) would like to lead the continent despite all the evidence that their destination can only mean destruction of all the values that they themselves hold dear.
They have left Europe's heritage behind and detached themselves both from the peoples and culture that gave the continent freedom and democracy.
The book is an easy read. It is written by a human being who clearly cares!
It is ostensibly written from a US perspective but the author knows his way around the European debate so well that the references to the crisis in Europe as being a US problem are there to only awaken concern across the Atlantic.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars European crisis 22 Aug 2005
Format:Unknown Binding
Weigel is an American Roman Catholic theologian who has the gift of being a compelling author. He is very readable. He gives a penetrating analysis of the Eurpean decline into secularism. How, he asks, can the EU produce a proposed constitution that ignores European Christian culture, jumping from the classical world to the Enlightenment as if nothing significant happened between them.
He describes a Europe facing a demographic and therefore economic and political crisis. This will result from a negative birthrate, except in non-indigenous, especially Muslim populations.
His sources though appear to ignore Protestant scholarship, especially the Reformed contribution of Kuyper and his heirs in combatting revolutionary secularism.
The diagnosos is acute, but the treatment is, I fear, not the one that will work. He wants a return to the Roman Catholic Church and Thomist thought. It is not a surprise then, that he ignores the long history of Roman Catholic opposition to political pluralism. He wants to see Europe converted to Christianity again, but his Christianity seems to centre more on the Pope than on the gospel of grace. However this book is a valuable call for Christian re-entry into the public square and a warning against secularism and its consequences.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wake up...pay attention 18 April 2008
By Sergio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Unknown Binding
Overall, this is a solid, though provoking read. Weigel does a good job of providing historical and factual information to support his thesis that Europe turning it's back on it's Christian heritage is now leading to the disappearance from Europe of a vital Western culture.

However, Weigel tends to lace his arguments with broad statements against rationalism and the age of reason without any attempt at justifying them. He also does a lot of "here's what's wrong with Europe" with examples that are not obviously any different from what's going on in the US, even though he frequently infers that the US is somehow better because it has retained it's Christian foundation.

There's a lot of valuable insight into recent Eurpoean history, and a lot that casts a light on the path the US is on as well. Just ignore Weigel's tendancy to accept as better, without evidence, the US way of doing things.

Follow this up with Bawer's "While Europe Slept" and you'll listen to the news from across the pond with a different ear.
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