Today (30th of April 2009) I took part at a conference on Christian Europe, European Constitution and religion. It was held at the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR), Bucharest by Joseph H. H. WEILER. His CV is impressive. The conference was moderated by Iulia MOTOC and Horia-Roman PATAPIEVICI, president of ICR. At the conference I only recognized a familiar person (via readings): Ioan T. MORAR.
First of all, I’ll mention why my notes for a conference which held more than two hours are scarce and inexact. Simply put, it was a combination of:
a. Long phrasing;
c. English speaking;
d. Abstract ideas;
e. Atypical thinking.
I’ll present what is fresh in my mind right now, and the pages I wrote at the conference. But do remember that by the middle of a typical sentence, I could barely follow what the speaker said, although I did take notes. And in the first part of the conference I was to absorbed to jot down anything.
So, what ideas did I take home, all from Joseph WEILER? (I repeat, some of these were not said exactly like below)
1. Religion in public is a binary choice (Yes / No); You can’t have a neutral answer;
2. Christophobia (fear on Christ) is the one legitimate prejudice that not only we are allowed to have, but we are also allowed to say it in public;
3. The Christian Getto‘s main idea is that in the public sphere one has to be secular/laic, instead of having the option of being religious; e.g.: Sunday you go to church, you’re a good Christian, but Monday Christianity has to have the same meaning as collecting matches; It’s somehow left behind, or put at margins;
4. There is no mention of Christian heritage or „Invocatio Dei” (invoke God) in the Preamble of European Constitution;
5. These two can be both true in the same time:
a. Freedom of religion; [one can have]
b. Freedom from religion; [one can have]
5. Religion identitity is not opposed to democratic identity;
6. The European Union (EU) was, at its beginnings, not only a project about peace, and economic exchanges, it was also about forgiveness and grace; These are not typical attributes; [Note: they are mostly religious]
7. Pope Paul II said a thing similar to: „We know the truth and we want to bring it to others”; This, Joseph WEILER argues, is the ultimate lesson in respect and tolerance; Why is that?
a. The church proposes, it never imposes;
b. There are two affirmations that are true in the same time (a paradox):
i. You need to go out (and spread the word) – but in the same time
ii. if this is not done by persuasion, you have to accept others in their otherness; [Note: I liked this idea a lot]
8. Since Europe puts individual in the center, this leads to self-centered individuals; Grow in an environment like this, and you don’t think too much about your duties, and responsibilities, you mostly think on your rights; People tend to allocate responsibilities to the appropriate level of government; [Note: Instead of putting responsibility on their shoulders, they put it on the State]
9. In the Five Books of Moses there are mostly duties; People had duties, not rights; e.g. If there is a widow with children, instead of looking at the situation as her right to a decent life (which puts emphasis on State’s role), you should look at it as your responsibility for the widow (that’s only you);
10. Although there were other influences too, the dominant religion which influenced EU was Christianity; We wouldn’t say the same thing about other countries, but in EU’s case, this is the situation;
11. Ignoring Christianity mentions in public may be politically correct, but not historically correct;
12. The Christianity (and Christians too) is a minority today; (Pope Benedict would say a similar thing)
13. There are too many EU states that have a mention of God in the Constitution, you have to acknowledge that; (e.g. Malta, Ireland, Denmark, Greece, Germany, Poland)
14. Not only did the above states kept mentions of God in their Constitutions, but also some of them voted against removing such mentions;
15. EU is more than an exchange of goods, it’s also a community of people;
16. These are hardly ever mentioned: colonial past, Holocaust, Communism; We want to put them in the past not by confronting them, but by pretending they do not exist;
a. were thrown to the lions;
b. threw others to the lions; [Note: I think this is an analogy for crimes in the name of Christianity, not an actual fact; I don’t think that Christians threw others to the lions]
18. The past is crucial to the future, the only way we create moral identity;
19. The EU demographic catastrophe is that we don’t make enough children; We need a pro-life attitude; Joseph WEILER said the reasons for which we don’t have children are deep; Other things are repairable, this is not; We are committing (in EU) a demographic suicide;
20. Religion should not be a factor for not accepting Turkey into EU; Other factors (like size of EU, political situation, economic status) may be, but not religion;
21. The world is a richer place due to diversity; As opposed to that, USA has a pretty flat culture;
22. Participation of Eastern States in EU – disappointing; There is a lack of confidence; There hasn’t been a distinctive voice; These states should have exploited the fact that they knew more about Russia than the Western States.
If I were to say just three words about Joseph WEILER, these would be: He is smart. I would then ignore the 3-words-rule and say that his way of speaking fascinated me. Lovely to hear. He made a few jokes, but these were mostly I-got-this-insight-that-would-make-laugh jokes, rather than boom-you’re-surprised,-now-laugh jokes. I liked him a lot, even if I mostly went to the conference to see, yet again, Horia-Roman PATAPIEVICI.
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