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Without Roots: Europe, Relativism, Christianity, Islam: The West, Relativism, Christianity and Islam Paperback – 10 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (10 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465006272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465006274
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 865,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"(A) thoughtful history lesson about what European/American civilization consists of, with some striking comments on the Spengler-Toynbee debate." The Spectator"

About the Author

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the late Pope John Paul II, and has long been regarded as one of the most profound Catholic theological and spiritual writers of our times. His numerous books include God and the World, Introduction to Christianity, Salt of the Earth, and The Spirit of Liturgy. Marcello Pera, a professor of the philosophy of science at the University of Pisa, is also President of the Italian Senate. He lives in Italy.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By G. J. Weeks on 23 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
Pera is a philosopher and politician. He writes masterfully on Relaivism, Christianity and the West. He sees Europe as a culture demoralised by relativism. His critique is devastating. He sees little hope against a resurgent Islam. The Pope writes very well on The Spiritual Roots of Europe. Being who he is he is more restrained and certainly unlike, Pera, very quiet on Islam. Ratzinger shows a real understanding of Evangelicals and their message, much more so than the media critics of Bush. He would not agree with Pera on Iraq and later in the book disputes Pera's interesting idea of an established non-denominational Christianity as the civil religion of Europe. but then how could the Pope put his imprimatur on any church other than the Roman variety? After all is is the only true church is it not? Ratzinger gives a brilliant critique of secular muticulturalism and recalls Europe to Christian roots. He is a pope this Presbyterian can applaud.In the second half of the book the two men exchange one letter each. I wish it had been more and that an index had been added. An excellent book which should be read by all who care about the future of Europe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles C Shivers on 8 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without Roots came to be because of the chance encounter of Joseph Ratzinger and Marcello Pera as they both gave lectures at the Pontifical Lateran University. Once each read the others lectures they realized that they were arriving at the same conclusion for the restitution of Europe's future but coming from very different backgrounds. The conclusion is, "the only thing worse than living without roots is struggling to get by without a future." (Pera: xii)

The theme of the book is judging Europe's past as a cohesive identifier of the culture that was once so great. European culture was born out of Christianity, namely Catholicism, and the current idea of culture is to wipe away any vestiges of a Christian past. To do this, argues Pera and Ratzinger, would be for Europe to lose its identity entirely. Both men speak to issues such as politics, philosophy, and the American model of the separation between Church and State. Pera talks at length about Islam and its unrelenting nature in the face of relativism and political pressure. The audience is those interested in European politics, culture, and Christianity.

The strength of the book has to be the resounding authority and diversity of background with which both men approach the subject at hand. Joseph Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps the most authoritative voice on Catholicism in Europe. Marcello Pera is a secularist and the President of the Italian Senate. The challenges might be that Joseph Ratzinger does not give a rebuttal to all the thoughts posed by Pera, claiming his scope lies only in Theology and not politics-for this I respect him and also would love to know what he thinks on subjects like American politics and Islam.

I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
The most remarkable thing about this little book is not so much the particular issues that are discussed in it. The last few years have seen an increased concern expressed by many Europeans (and others) about the direction in which that continent is headed. What is remarkable is that there is increasingly a convergence of ideas that point to the solution of Europe's long term ills. In this book two extraordinary intellectual giants (one a Pope and another a philosopher and the president of the Italian senate) present their views of those ills from an essentially the same vantage point. There is yet a hope that not everything is lost.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 25 reviews
130 of 133 people found the following review helpful
Wow! Very insightful and honest 2 Mar. 2006
By John Allen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up this little book, but it's much more than an analysis of Europe's problems. It includes thought and analysis by Pera (president of the Italian Senate and a non-Christian) as well as by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

Both take a look at the effects relativism has had on European culture and offer their advice on how to shake the malaise that is covering the continent. In the process, they slice history into meaningful events and even give some great insight into the U.S. and it's spiritual, political, and cultural situation.

For Catholics, this is a brillant look into how Ratzinger/Benedict sees the world and the problems he is dealing with. His suggestion of the Christian minority "activist" is a compelling vision for the future in Europe and the U.S.

For non-Catholics, the history of relativism and how it exacerbates our problems with Islam is fascinating. To suggest this is merely "medieval thinking" is ignorance in the purest form. This is a philosophical meditation on where Western culture is and what that means for our future.

Highly recommended.
77 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant 8 Mar. 2006
By Seth J. Frantzman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Europe is dying. We know that birthrates in most European countries are near to 1. That means for every two people, one is produced since birth rates measure births from women. If one only measures the birth-rates of indigenous Europeans, not recent immigrants, they will find that in fact the number is closer to .25, that is for every four European Christian women only 1 will have a child.

Europe will not exist in 50 years. Instead Europe will be a majority Muslim. Not only is this a very real fact but the urban landscape of Europe is already almost a majority Muslim. Recent riots, violence and criminality have shown the dangers that are upon europe, also the rise of anti-semitism, racism, intolernace, religion and just plane hatred shows what is happening to Europe.

Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope, co-authored this sad soul searching text that explains how a Europe without a history, without 'roots' is likely to disappear and the disappearence of European people in Europe will mean a damage to the world, it calls into question those ideas like liberty, freedom, democracy, and equality that Europe have related to the world, like in 1940 it threatens a 'new dark age' in the words of Churchill. This is an insightful, wonderful read.

Seth J. Frantzman
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A convergence of ideas 13 Sept. 2006
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The most remarkable thing about this little book is not so much the particular issues that are discussed in it. The last few years have seen an increased concern expressed by many Europeans (and others) about the direction in which that continent is headed. What is remarkable is that there is increasingly a convergence of ideas that point to the solution of Europe's long term ills. In this book two extraordinary intellectual giants (one a Pope and another a philosopher and the president of the Italian senate) present their views of those ills from an essentially the same vantage point. There is yet a hope that not everything is lost.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Phenomenal Reflection for a Culture on the Edge of Death 22 Jan. 2007
By Matthew K. Minerd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This collection of essays stands as a testimony on behalf of the West as it drills itself into the ground of Relativism and apathy. Marcello Pera's lecture stands for me as a refreshing breeze coming from the heart of a Europe which has nearly completely bought into the destructive force of Philosophical Relativism. The very dangers of this school of thought are laid out well, as Pera reflects upon how it is freezing the West and is giving it atrophy as conviction dies. Surprisingly, the philosopher-senator also answers the problem of Islamic extremism and the need for response against it. However, Pera's primary focus is the refutation of relativism and the exposition of the ossifying dangers inherent therein.

The speech given by Pope Benedict (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) focuses more on the cultural heritage of the West and its roots in the Mediterranean. In the face of the decline of the West, the Pope offers a positive assessment of the hopes for development by means of "energetic minorities," a topic which is fleshed out in somewhat greater detail in the correspondence included as an appendix to the essays. This idea remains as a hopeful focus against the semi-biologicistic view of culture as a birth-growth-death process which has no hope of breaking out of a death spiral. The continuity of Ratzinger's understanding of the West through history, a continuity which historically has braved storms of philosophical uncertainty by means of energetic groups (be they monastic, academic, or familial).

In view of the grim realities reflected on by both Ratzinger and Pera as they speak of the West's Fall, they both build a staunchly Christian-underpinning for Europe, an under-pinning which is necessary to have roots for the survival. This discussion is all-the-more convincing in light of Pera's atheism which still acknowledges the philosophical necessity of Christianity to combat relativism and restore the roots of the West.

This strong, sober, yet hopeful vision for the West which is a necessary read for us living in a crucial period of history for not only the Church, Europe, and the Extended West but for the entire world.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A joy to read, outstanding 24 Nov. 2006
By Scott Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors address what faces our world, bridging the gap between secularists and Christians. A joy to read, outstanding.

Marcello Pera: He tackles relativism, Christianity, the west, political correctness, and the clash of Islam. His thesis is a comparison of cultures; the deconstruction: to prove its purpose or foundation; the weakening of the church and Christianity; the paralyzed west. Pera is a professor and philosopher, and amazingly enough, agnostic. "In the age of relativism and silent apostasy belief in the true no longer exists; the mission of the true is considered fundamentalism, and the very affirmation of the true creates or raised fears."

Joseph Ratzinger: He discusses Europe and its borders; the failings, birth, influence and outflow of Christianity; the rise of secularism; God and Christ the foundation. Ratzinger sees the world clearly, and his boldness is refreshing. Is Europe on the decline and is the U.S. following suite?

Letter to Joseph Ratzinger from Marcello Pera: Marcello praises Joseph, and brings forth important questions, such as: Europe choosing a religious identity over a Christian; fearing intolerance; the double standards.

Letter to Marcello Pera from Joseph Ratzinger: Joseph answers some of Marcello's questions: the Catholic/Protestant secularism; the struggles of the church, losing their way; ethics and society. A look at problems from a different angle.

Wish you well

Scott
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