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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Decline of religion in Europe is a sign of a foundering civilization

One of the liveliest of political bloggers, Rod Dreher (alias "Crunchy Con"), recently posted an item in praise of the academic and controversialist Camille Paglia. It was an odd juxtaposition: Mr. Dreher, a former devout Catholic, is a recent convert to the Orthodox Church, while Prof. Paglia is an atheist who describes herself as a "feminist bisexual maniac."
Her main failing, in my eyes, is that she insists on taking Madonna seriously, but that is another story. What really caught my eye was her claim that the decline of religion in Europe was a sign of a foundering civilization: "The Europeans have become very passive, all of them," she said. "There's a fatigued worldliness typical of Europe right now, and that's why nothing very interesting artistically is coming out of there."
As sweeping statements go, her diagnosis ranks among the best. Is there really an artistic vacuum in the old continent? I'm not at all convinced. London, after all, can claim to be the most dynamic center of the arts on the planet right now. Is there, in contrast, a profound connection between faith and cultural creativity in modern America? Again, I have my doubts. The great irony, of course, is that the form of religion Ms. Paglia hankers after has traditionally taken a less than charitable view of either bisexual maniacs or feminists...BY CLIVE DAVIS The Washington Times May 6, 2007

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