October 15, 2010

Reading...

Read long yesterday from the November issue of First Things, a very appetizing issue full of the sort of things that fascinate me, like what went wrong with the German soul such that led to the horrors of the last century, and what did Mark Twain have to say in his one-hundred years delayed autobiography.

Then too there were piquant ratings of various religious-affiliated universities, by overall excellence and then by how Catholic (or not) they were and such. Very interesting stuff and the transparency is an excellent service. Too many still haven't gotten the memo (though admittedly they're unlikely to be First Things readers) that not all schools alleged to be Catholic are, in fact, Catholic. Of First Things' top 25 schools in America, Thomas Aquinas College, Franciscan University, Notre Dame, University of Dallas and Providence made up the Catholic list. Ave Maria noticeably absent, which is the sort of inside baseball I appreciate seeing. Protestant school Wheaton College was numero uno.

An excerpt from the article about Germany:
The problem was that Germany exalted its cultural achievements to the point of idolatry. The only prayer Goethe could utter in earnest, Rosenzweig comments, was Psalm 90's 'Establish thou the work of our hands.' Kultur became Germany's national religion, with terrible consequences...

To a great degree, the main intellectual movements of the postwar years can be understood as efforts to purge idolatries of blood and mind from our collective imaginations. Germany has all but abjured the Kultur it once worshiped; it is hard to find a German schoolchild today who can quote four lines of Goethe from memory. And at present fertility rates, the German population will shrink by 98 percent over the next two centuries.

That is not only Germany's tragedy, but ours. The great project of German theologians such as Barth, Urs von Balthasar, and Rosenzweig - to restore religious orthodoxy in the modern world after Kant and Nietzsche - was a work in progress when Hitler took power...If what was good in Germany is lost along with the ill, it will be all the harder for us and for our children to find our bearings.

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