Friday, April 01, 2005

Some potentially interesting books

Rural insurgency and political integration/dis-integration were both my academic and military specialties. Oddly enough one of the most useful typologies for this kind of activity and the book that first alerted me to the spectrum of criminals/insurgents was Hobsbawm’s, Primitive Rebels, still available in paperback. Old Eric Hobsbawm was a lifelong British Communist, but he understood the political and economic underpinnings of deviant behavior. If you ever want to understand what we will be facing for the next two or three generations, read this book first then get a firm grasp on “amoral familialism” orginated by Edw. Banfield, and finish with studies of middle eastern tribe, clan and families.

Comment by Hungry Valley — 4/20/2005 @ 6:33

Habemus Papam
April 20, 2005; Page A16, the Wall Street Journal.

The world has a new Pope -- Benedict XVI, known until yesterday as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany. It appears inevitable that his election -- by 115 Catholic cardinals convened in the Sistine Chapel for the second day of their conclave -- will be seen as a conservative choice. To the extent that is true, the former Cardinal Ratzinger's critics in the U.S. and Europe can probably take some of the credit for his elevation to the papacy.

Attention is being drawn to a remark made days ago by Cardinal Ratzinger in a pontifical Mass that "we are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism." It may have gotten him elected. For it is not likely that any member of the college of cardinals was willing to allow this brand of relativism to endanger the Church's dynamic gains in Africa, South America or Asia. In his revealing memoir, "Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977" (Ignatius Press), he describes his early sense, as a young German in the war, of the Church's historic role: "Despite many human failings, the Church was the alternative to the destructive ideology of the Nazis. In the inferno that had swallowed up the powerful, she had stood firm with a force coming to her from eternity. It had been demonstrated: The gates of hell will not prevail against her."

What, then, may we expect of the "conservative" Benedict XVI? We suspect that rather than the suppression feared by Western liberals, this vigorous 78-year-old intellectual, extending the mandate of John Paul, will promote a spiritual revival and evangelization among the strays in his own flock.

It is also widely said that a central challenge for the new Pope will be dealing with the Islamic world, even as much of the world itself strives in the age of Islamic terror to encourage moderate Muslims to join the fight. Cardinal Ratzinger was known as a tough, and sometimes overly blunt, commentator. But let it also be noted that the Benedict XVI who must arbitrate a modus vivendi with Islam on one day and the pressures of modernity on the next has taken his papal name, perhaps as a message to his adversaries, from the founder of the Benedictine order whose motto is pax, or peace. Those willing to meet this new pontiff halfway may find more than they bargained for. (End of WSJ note.)

I found the 'Memoirs' to be a fine read, sort of an intellectual's Huck Finn adventure, not to diminsh Huck Finn who Mr. Twain wouldn't allow to be more self revealing, starting out on a community raft in an administratively Nazi river in a historically Catholic land. He arrives off the danger of the river to a threadbare but traditionally dynamic society which yet has it moral challenges, most prominently in the seduction of Marxism, but also more self made challenges as in the Catholic Church's headlonng rush out of traditional or a culturally accreted liturgy. Similar to but even more than John Roberts, he is remarkable for the bluster he doesn't have. He is inclusive, may this writer add snarkily, catholic, finding refreshment in his Lutheran colleagues and, in one of his intelectual facets, 'personalism' where Martin Buber, a Jew, is given as the best expositor.

Harold Bloom, emeritus prof of Yale, in WSJ, April 20th, 2005
One goes on urging children of all ages to read and reread Hans Christian Andersen and Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, rather than Ms. Rowling and Mr. King.

No comments: