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The Cube And The Cathedral: Europe, America and Politics Without God Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 5, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Export Ed edition (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465092667
  • ASIN: B000PC6XBS
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,415,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Paris's modernist La Grande Arche de la Défense and the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame serve as metaphors for papal biographer Weigel's (Witness to Hope) examination of what has happened to Europe in the last several decades and its significance to Americans. Weigel, an American Catholic theologian who has lived and worked on the continent, defines the "Europe problem" as the sharp divergence of European views on democracy, the world and politics from those held by Americans like himself. For him, La Grande Arche ("The Cube") symbolizes the new Europe, retreating from democracy, en route to depoliticization, enamored of international organizations and intellectually Christophobic. Notre-Dame, which guidebooks claim would fit inside the Cube, embodies Europe's Christian history, now strangely absent from the constitution of the European Union. Weigel traces the "Europe problem" to the 19th-century rise of "atheistic humanism" and "the related triumph of secularization, or de-Christianization, in western Europe." He urges Americans to pay attention to what has happened there because it has implications for the future of democracy in the United States and throughout the world. In developing his thesis, Weigel draws on diverse sources, including the Polish-born Pope John Paul II, who has been keenly interested in Europe's democracies. Readers given to pondering European affairs will find much to pique thoughtful discussion. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Catholic neoconservative Weigel maintains that the weighty preamble to the European Union's proposed constitution demonstrates what is wrong with Europe. The document doesn't mention Christianity as a factor in the formation of Europe, instead touting the nonreligious influences of the pre-Christian ancients and the Enlightenment. The omission produced heated debate but little rewriting, indicating, Weigel says, elite Europeans' hostility to Christianity and reflecting the union's bureaucratic orientation against politics, especially the democracy that Christianity, with its concern for individual human dignity, fosters uniquely among the great world religions. Weigel raises many questions about contemporary European actions, attitudes, and developments--in particular, the precipitate decline of the overall nonimmigrant European birth rate--on the way to concluding that Europe's leadership is bored with life. Those questions and a host of incidental observations are very intriguing and provocative, but Weigel's championing of Catholicism, Poland, and especially the Christ-centered humanism of the present pope as restoratives for a sick Europe may strike many as banking on very long shots. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Europe, Weigel fears, will wither.
Sam Cody
It is culture and religion that ultimately makes for strong nations.
Amazon Customer
I would truthfully recommend this book to anyone.
William J. Murphy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

196 of 215 people found the following review helpful By John Zxerce on April 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Weigel suggests Europe is a society adrift, untied from the source of its greatness - the very cultural foundation which provided the values making Europe great is now disintegrating, leaving Europe (and soon the entire West) on sinking sand. More specifically, as the past is erased, re-written, or ignored the rich Judeo-Christian history of Europe is being left behind. And at what cost?

Weigel asks provocative questions... Why is European productivity dwindling to an all time low? Why is European politics rife with senselessness? Why does Sweden have a considerably higher level of its population living below the poverty line? Why is Europe undergoing the 'greatest sustained reduction in European population since the Black Death of the 14th century'?

Could the recent woes of Europe be tied to the ever decreasing Christian minority on this now decidedly post-Christian continent?

As I ponder Weigel's book I'm reminded of Orwell's quote, "We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." Weigel restates the obvious, "culture determines civilization". And he goes on to say, without its distinctly Christian history, Europe would not be what it is. Unfortunately, he may have more accurately written, `Europe would not have been what it was.'

However, from the perspective of the Christian tradition there is more to lament than the secondary effects of a decline in productivity, and art. That is, merely reviving religion as an end in itself is not what Europe needs, but rather a call back to its first love, the God who blesses and rewards those who diligently seek Him.

Of course the current intellectual elites regard God as an embarrassment as they continue to scoff at His name. What is the final price? The world has yet to know.
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119 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Scaramanga on April 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The issues covered are perhaps the most important issues facing the West as we begin the third millenium. We'll hear a lot about it as the de-Christianization of Europe seems to be number one item on the new Pope's agenda.

The book is very important in that most Westerners - and I mean the educated westerners - don't even realize that a stage is being set for a war of religion/ideologies, just as liberals (in the American sense of the word) have convinced themselves that religion doesn't matter. See the review by an Urs Guber below who states that "Italy just happens to have the densest Roman Catholic population." I'm sure Urs believes she (?) knows a lot about Europe, but the statement betrays her complete ignorance of the trends under way.

Italy is one of the LEAST Catholic countries in Western Europe, as - for instance - reported by CNN recently; the percentage of practicing Catholics - and Christians in general - has been falling rapidly in Italy, Germany, and France. Apart from an identity crisis it represents (whose long-term consequences are hard to predict), it has opened a great opportunity to Islam. Last year, a mosque was built at the site of a Catholic church in Granada (if you don't know what that means, you had better read up on history), and it's no coincidence that the largest mosque in Europe was built a stone's throw from the Vatican. Why the anti-religious left doesn't find that troubling is beyond me. Is Catholic Italy worse that Italy AD 2060 under sharia law? There will be no fashion in Muslim Italy - that's guaranteed. So even if you don't give a damn about religion or ideology, but couldn't live without Armani or Blahnik, you should be concerned.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on June 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Why is it that the 70,000 word constitution of the European Union does not once mention the term `Christianity'? How is it that the framers of the EU document utterly fail to acknowledge the Christian heritage of Europe? Can European democracy long flourish in a culture that rejects the heritage that give birth to it? And what future is there for a free Europe which has spiritual and cultural amnesia, forgetting its very foundations?

These questions are explored in an important new book by American social commentator and Catholic theologian, George Weigel. He argues that there are two main competing visions for the future of Europe. One is that of secularism as represented by the La Grande Arche in Paris, a huge glass and metal cube built to commemorate the bicentenary of the French Revolution.

The other is Christianity, as represented by Notre-Dame Cathedral, which tourists are informed can easily fit into the grand cube.

One vision follows a two-hundred year history of humanism, secularism, and atheism. The other follows the two thousand year history of the Christian church. Which vision, asks Weigel, can better protect democracy, human rights and meaning and purpose for modern Europe? Which vision will hold sway?

Weigel argues that the answers to these questions will also help explain the issue of the "Europe problem". For example, how does one account for Europe's weakness in the face of international terrorism, it refusal to recognise the failures - and terror - of communism, its declining fertility rates, its fixation with international organisations such as the International Criminal Court and the UN, and its rampant Christophobia?

Why has Europe repudiated its Judeo-Christian foundations and embraced secular humanism?
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