The European mentality

More from Charles Murray, who cites “journalistic and scholarly accounts of a spreading European mentality that goes something like this”:

Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.

If that’s the purpose of life, then work is not a vocation, but something that interferes with the higher good of leisure. If that’s the purpose of life, why have a child, when children are so much trouble? If that’s the purpose of life, why spend it worrying about neighbors? If that’s the purpose of life, what could possibly be the attraction of a religion that says otherwise?

I stand in awe of Europe’s past. Which makes Europe’s present all the more dispiriting. And should make it something that concentrates our minds wonderfully, for every element of the Europe Syndrome is infiltrating American life as well. The European model provides the intellectual framework for the social policies of the Democratic Party, and it faces no credible opposition from Republican politicians.

Murray goes on to discuss new scientific research that undercuts the assumptions of Social Democracy, such as the notion that human beings are malleable and can be shaped by governmental policies. I’m struck by how Murray is drawing on, in effect, the Reformation doctrine of the Three Estates and the doctrine of vocation.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    Murray is in an interesting guy who grew up in Iowa, went to Harvard College, and later to M.I.T. for a PhD in political science. His book, The Bell Curve, is brilliant. He is a solid conservative, though not a religious one. He attends a Quaker church with his wife, a member, though he is not a member. He apparently has great respect for religion but somehow hasn't seen fit to be a faithful Christian.

    His basic view is that the coastal elites have lost confidence in America, though this will change due to some developments he sees coming in academia. The simple -minded leftist premises of equality and the new man, shaped malleably by the government will be replaced by a return to an emphasis on individual distinction. I hope he's right and that someday he may see fit to becoming seriously religious. He is among the best of American thinkers.

    Murray has never lost the vitality and optimism that comes from growing up in the heartland and loathes the Europeanization of America that Obama and many other leftist elitists stand for.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    Murray is in an interesting guy who grew up in Iowa, went to Harvard College, and later to M.I.T. for a PhD in political science. His book, The Bell Curve, is brilliant. He is a solid conservative, though not a religious one. He attends a Quaker church with his wife, a member, though he is not a member. He apparently has great respect for religion but somehow hasn't seen fit to be a faithful Christian.

    His basic view is that the coastal elites have lost confidence in America, though this will change due to some developments he sees coming in academia. The simple -minded leftist premises of equality and the new man, shaped malleably by the government will be replaced by a return to an emphasis on individual distinction. I hope he's right and that someday he may see fit to becoming seriously religious. He is among the best of American thinkers.

    Murray has never lost the vitality and optimism that comes from growing up in the heartland and loathes the Europeanization of America that Obama and many other leftist elitists stand for.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    Even if Murray is right that the leftist pieties are in decline and that the traditional views of American exceptional individualism will be resurgent, the missing piece would be Luther's and Calvin's understanding that we are simultaneously justified sinners through the Cross, and sinners incapable as individuals through works to justify ourselves.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    Even if Murray is right that the leftist pieties are in decline and that the traditional views of American exceptional individualism will be resurgent, the missing piece would be Luther's and Calvin's understanding that we are simultaneously justified sinners through the Cross, and sinners incapable as individuals through works to justify ourselves.

  • Pingback: Europe’s contribution « The Wanderer

  • Pingback: Europe’s contribution « The Wanderer


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X