Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Changes a-coming...

There's a fascinating post dated January 5 on featuring an interview between Hugh Hewitt and Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press and Provost of Ave Maria University. Father Fessio who's a friend of Pope Benedict XVI spoke frankly about the problems of Christianity in Europe and the clash of civilisations, and makes several pointed observations. Here's a brief summary:
  • Commenting on the late John Paul II's view that there would be a new spring, a new era of evangelisation for Christendom, Father Joseph said that's where Pope Benedict XVI differs. Instead, what's more likely is, “...if we are truly faithful to Christ and His word, we're going to be a minority, and a minority which is becoming more and more marginalized, and even oppressed.”
  • Like the retreat of Christianity in North Africa, changing demographics in Europe are a signal of things to come: Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, I mean, they were all Christian, thriving Christian communities, you know, in the early Church. And now, you can't profess your faith there. You can't bring a Bible in some of those countries.”
  • The Holy Father sees a dynamism in the Bible that is absent in other religions. There is an 'inner logic' that allows Christianity to dialogue with modernity and adapt to changing times because God’s word came through inspired people: “[T]he dynamism's completely different, that God has worked through His creatures. And so, it is not just the word of God, it's the word of Isaiah, not just the word of God, but the word of Mark. He's used His human creatures, and inspired them to speak His word to the world, and therefore by establishing a Church in which he gives authority to His followers to carry on the tradition and interpret it, there's an inner logic to the Christian Bible, which permits it and requires it to be adapted and applied to new situations.... because we can take what's good there, and we can elevate it through the revelation of Christ in the Bible."
  • Christianity survived the Dark Ages because of monasteries that kept learning alive. Under the new wave of religious intolerance and oppression, "... homeschools are the monasteries of the new dark ages ... families are having children. They're passing on the faith to their children. They're giving them wisdom and the knowledge of our culture."

I find Father Fessio interesting - not least because of his affirmation of homeschooling - but also because he understood the need to encourage learning, and the transmission of culture and Christian values through the most natural means we have available: our families. He concluded by saying,

"The future is going to be through education. It can't be any other way. And we believe that it's important to impart to young people a knowledge of Jesus, a knowledge of His word, a knowledge of a tradition of the saints in the history of the Church, a knowledge of our civilization which has produced so much beautiful work. I mean, look at Lord of the Rings, and look at C.S. Lewis. I mean, the impact they've had. Why did it have that impact? These were two highly educated Christians, who took their talents and gave them to the Lord, and look what it's done. So we want to try and impart that kind of knowledge to those who have the talent to imbibe it and absorb it and to go forth and then pass that on."
You just have to read the whole interview for yourself.

Related link:
Mark Steyn - The real reason the West is in danger of extinction

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