Looking across the Atlantic these days definitely gives you an uneasy feeling. I am big-picture kind of guy and find my self worrying about all sorts of global events and trends. I keep coming back to the fate of Europe. By this I primarily mean western Europe, for it is not yet clear whether Eastern Europe will suffer the plight of the West.
The problem is not hard to see. Europe can be accurately described as a post-Christian society, that in the pursuit of a hedonistic, secular paradise has jettisoned any real, substantive concern for ensuring its own posterity. This generational change is most obviously demonstrated in the empty churches and the plummeting birthrates.
Into this void steps the Muslim immigrant, whether they be from Pakistan, Turkey, Algeria or Morocco. Assimilation is minimal, and blame for this seems to clearly lie on both sides: the Muslim who is interested only in re-creating a little Algiers on the Seine, and then the Frenchman, despite all protestations to the contrary, who could never envision anyone from the wrong side of the Mediterranean as ever being in any real way, French.
This is nothing other than one skirmish in the on-going "Clash of Civilizations" so brilliantly addressed by Samuel Huntington back in 1995. Some scholars today find it popular to denigrate Huntington's thesis. I find it compelling, however, and we ignore it at our peril.
David Warren, a gifted Canadian journalist (http://www.davidwarrenonline.com) has much to say about this in light of the recent Muslim riots in France. Below are some of his comments in an article entitled "Apocalypse," dated November 12, 2005:
The recent riots in France remind me how quickly Europe is receding, in historical time; how completely its civilization has been undermined; how much is irretrievably lost. European Imperialism is retrospectively derided, but it was a manifestation of a European mission -- to civilize and Christianize all human life; to bring the light of Europe to every dark, pagan, and barbarous enclave. It is that light which is now mostly extinguished, just where it once blazed most brightly.
After a century adrift, we find a Europe which itself has gone pagan again, and is returning to barbarity.
Soon, the average age in Europe will be beyond childbearing. Among non-Muslim Europeans, in probably already is. We can no longer dream of a recovery. Europe has leapt. New immigrants are taking possession of the continent, transforming it, as in the "Dark Ages". Rome will be sacked again, in due course.
America is not Europe, as Sicily was not Greece in the ancient world. We carried the ideals of Europe to the West, over ocean, and settled a new land. North America today is semi-detached, could survive alone. Christianity remains quite alive here, often in novel, evangelical forms; Catholic order begins to reappear; and yet much of North America -- “Blue State” and Great White North -- seems determined to follow Europe into the abyss, by denying its Christian identity, and embracing the great zero of "multiculturalism". Atheism, in America, has claimed its millions of corpses through the discreet operation of the abortuaries.
I know, I know: such reflections will reach many of my readers as a letter from the moon. But it will reach many others as a partial explanation of that apprehension of loss and doom, that hangs over so many in our Western world today, as we struggle to respond to such threats as Islamism; or wade in the septic tank of our popular culture.
We are wrong, however, to assume that any final Apocalypse follows from the cultural degeneration we see all around us. For Europe -- “the West” -- was always just a place.
Tell anyone in the first centuries of Christendom that the centre of Christian civilization was in Europe, and they would have been puzzled. For Europe hadn't really been invented yet, except in a few Augustinian minds (and Augustine a North African, you will recall). If you said, "Rome", they might have had some idea. Indeed, the Arabs had something to do with the fact that so unpromising a place as Hun/Vandal/Goth Europe became the centre of Christian civilization.
Then realize, that Europe did not create Christianity. Christianity created Europe. And will create new Europes, wherever its living seed may fall. Christendom is simply moving -- to Africa, to Asia, to the Americas perhaps; to wherever Christ is wanted, and away from where He is not.