The Economist: 'God is not dead'
The magazine is replete with little nuggets of insight, like:
The White House might be going to hell (or at least to Hillary Clinton), but Europe faces a worse nightmare: a continued descent into Godlessness, and then a takeover by Islam.
The optimists point out that Europe's churches are roughly as full as America's were before the First Amendment separated church from state. Hence the importance of the current pope. One rumour is that Benedict XVI would prefer a smaller but more vibrant Catholic church in Europe. In Germany he is said to have argued privately against the churches' lavish state funding. If he took the same line publicly in Rome, that would certainly test the free-market hypothesis.
The idea of a firm division between God and Caesar is embedded not just in the gospels but also in Christian history: hence the Holy Roman Emperors' multiple disagreements with the pope. Islam has always left less room for the secular. Unlike Jesus, Muhammad was a ruler, warrior and lawmaker. Islam, which means “submission”, teaches that the primary unit of society is the umma, the brotherhood of believers, and it provides a system of laws—sharia—for people to live by. As Mark Lilla, an American academic, has argued, there has been no “great separation”: pious Muslims still turn to holy texts for guidance on all aspects of their lives.
One cause that could bring many pious people together is the environment. Religious people, argues Mr Cox, are questioning “an economic system based on the infinite expansion of finite resources”. The religious left has long been involved in greenery. The big change has come on the right. Conservative Protestants in America originally backed their political allies in the oil industry; now more of them are concerned about “creation care”. Biblical disaster seems to suit fundamentalists; hence their interest in greenish books such as Martin Rees's “Our Final Century”.
This is an issue well worth reading, distilling, as it does, the essence of the tensions between religion and (post)modernity, and summarising why politicians are doomed to addressing the inescapable fusion that exists between religion and politics.