Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures

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Ignatius Press, 2006 - Religion - 117 pages
4 Reviews

Written by Joseph Ratzinger shortly before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures looks at the growing conflict of cultures evident in the Western world. The West faces a deadly contradiction of its own making, he contends.

Terrorism is on the rise. Technological advances of the West, employed by people who have cut themselves off from the moral wisdom of the past, threaten to abolish man (as C.S. Lewis put it)--whether through genetic manipulation or physical annihilation.

In short, the West is at war-with itself. Its scientific outlook has brought material progress. The Enlightenment's appeal to reason has achieved a measure of freedom. But contrary to what many people suppose, both of these accomplishments depend on Judeo-Christian foundations, including the moral worldview that created Western culture.

More than anything else, argues Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, the important contributions of the West are threatened today by an exaggerated scientific outlook and by moral relativism-what Benedict XVI calls "the dictatorship of relativism"-in the name of freedom.

Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures is no mere tirade against the moral decline of the West. Razinger challenges the West to return to its roots by finding a place for God in modern culture. He argues that both Christian culture and the Enlightenment formed the West, and that both hold the keys to human life and freedom as well as to domination and destruction.

Ratzinger challenges non-believer and believer alike. "Both parties," he writes, "must reflect on their own selves and be ready to accept correction." He challenges secularized, unbelieving people to open themselves to God as the ground of true rationality and freedom. He calls on believers to "make God credible in this world by means of the enlightened faith they live."

Topics include:

  • Reflections on the Cultures in Conflict Today
  • The Significance and Limits of Today's Rationalistic Culture
  • The Permanent Significance of the Christian Faith
  • Why We Must Not Give Up the Fight
  • The Law of the Jungle, the Rule of Law
  • We Must Use Our Eyes
  • Faith and Everyday Life
  • Can Agnosticism Be a Solution?
  • The Natural Knowledge of God
  • "Supernatural" Faith and Its Origins

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User Review  - tabascofromgudreads - LibraryThing

This is a very good book, that deserves to be read carefully, weighing every word and paragraph. As a catholic, I listen to everything the Pope has to say with the utmost respect, and I trust his full ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Pope Benedict has been a keen and precise critic of the cultural clashes that have been shaking the West over the last half a century. He doesn't kowtow to the latest politically correct fad, nor does he mince words to state the truth. In this book he clearly outlines the what the greatest threats are to the Christian culture and the civilization which is based upon it. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand better the position of the Catholic Church in the ongoing global culture wars. 

Selected pages


Reflections on Cultures That Are in Conflict Today
The Significance and Limits of Todays Rationalistic Culture
The Permanent Significance of the Christian Faith
Why We Must Not Give Up the Fight
The Law of the Jungle the Rule of Law
We Must Use Our Eyes
Faith and Everyday Life A Fundamental Human Attitude
Can Agnosticism Be a Solution?
The Natural Knowledge of God
Supernatural Faith and Its Origins
Development of Premises

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Page 16 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...

About the author (2006)

Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn in the state of Bavaria, Germany. Ratzinger entered the minor seminary in Traunstein, in 1939 and in 1943 along with the rest of his seminary class he was drafted into the Flak [anti-aircraft corps]. In 1944 he was released from the Flak and returned home only to be drafted into labor detail under the infamous Austrian Legion. In the spring of 1945 Ratzinger deserted the army and headed home but when the Americans arrive at his village shortly thereafter, he was identified as a German soldier and incarcerated in a POW camp for a brief time. Following his release he re-entered the seminary. In 1951 Joseph was ordained into the priesthood and began lectures as a full professor of fundamental theology at the University of Bonn. From 1962-65 Ratzinger was present during all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council as a peritus, or chief theological advisor to Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne, Germany. . In 1977 Joseph Ratzinger was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and on June 27 elevated to Cardinal of Munich by Pope Paul VI. In 1981 Ratzinger accepted Pope John Paul II's invitation to take over as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in 1986 he was appointed head of a 12-member commission responsible for drafting the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Ratzinger was elected vice dean of the College of Cardinals in 1988. In 2002 Pope John Paul II, approved his election as dean of the College of Cardinals. On April 8, 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger presided over the funeral of Pope John Paul II. On April 19, 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Bishop of Rome on the fourth ballot of the conclave and took the name Benedict XVI.

Brian McNeil is a native of the United Kingdom who now lives in Germany. He also translated Klauck's The Religious Context of Early Christianity.

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