Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures is a very intellectual, academic book in its approach to treating different theological questions as well as in the type of philosophical questions raised by science and technology. Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI first delivered this lecture at the School of Catholic Culture in Santa Croce, in Bassano, Italy, not too long before he was elected pope.
Most of the piece focuses on the tendency in Europe to move away from traditional Christian values towards what Pope Benedict XVI describes as a “modern Enlightenment philosophy,” which insists beliefs should be able to be proven through mathematics and science. This decomposition of morality and ethics leads to a violation of the very freedom of the individual it presumes to protect when the rights and preferences of certain people reign while those in poverty, without a voice, the unborn, the elderly, the marginalized…are at the mercy of those who exercise and protect liberty inasmuch as it applies to the convenience of those in power.
The work addresses three main topics: “The Crisis of Cultures,” “The Right to Life,” and “What does it mean to believe?” In the first section, we are shown the contradictions present between the Christian culture, now and throughout history, and a contemporary culture which prizes rationalistic philosophies. The second part discusses how this perspective leads to conflict that undermines both individuality and democracy, because “when man’s conscience loses respect for life as something sacred, he inevitably ends by losing his own identity” (pg. 60).
Through the discussion of other major world religions, agnosticism as a solution, and the likely implications and morality upheld when the dignity of every human is respected, Pope Benedict XVI provides a treatise for how those who become and teach holiness and a love of truth will be the ones to give hope to a culture that has seemingly become self-centered enough to self-destruct. Adding God back into the equation, even if His Existence hasn’t been sufficiently proven or denied for some focused on mathematics, sciences, and technology is the best possible scenario our world has for upholding that which is true liberty, freedom, and hope for all.
You can purchase this book here.
I wrote this review of Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures for the Tiber River Blogger Review program.
Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases. I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.