Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam


Bringing together their unique vantage points as leaders of Church and State, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Marcello Pera challenge us to imagine what can be the future of a civilization that has abandoned its moral and cultural history. They call on the West to embrace a spiritual rather than political renewal -and to accept the moral values that alone can help us to make sense of changes in technology, economics, and society.

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Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam

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Bringing together their unique vantage points as leaders of Church and State, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Marcello Pera challenge us to imagine what can be the future of a civilization that has abandoned its moral and cultural history. They call on the West to embrace a spiritual rather than political renewal -and to accept the moral values that alone can help us to make sense of changes in technology, economics, and society.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
If Pope Benedict XVI has a weakness, it is not timidity. In Without Roots, "the pope of quiet surprises" offers a challenging critique of "post-Christian" thinking and values. The book, which was coauthored with nonbelieving Italian intellectual Marcello Pera, argues that Europe suffers from an endemic relativism that has canceled certainty and replaced it with self-indulgence and self-doubt.
Library Journal
Two timely essays, one by Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and the other by Marcello Pera (philosophy of science, emeritus, Univ. of Pisa, Italy), the president of the Italian senate, appear in this slim book, which also includes two letters that the authors exchanged. Originally presented as lectures in May 2004-Pera spoke at the Pontifical Lateran College of the Papal University, while Ratzinger addressed the Italian senate at Pera's invitation-the essays represent an unexpected convergence of neoconservative thinking on Europe's rejection of its spiritual foundations. Both authors oppose relativism as undermining Europe's identity, leaving Islam to fill a void. Pera, a secularist nonbeliever, offers reasons for adopting a Christian-based civil religion. Ratzinger reviews the sweep of Europe's history to demonstrate its present condition while advocating Christianity as a "creative minority" (a concept borrowed from British historian Arnold Toynbee). Americans will find that Ratzinger's analysis of church-state relations in the United States versus those in Europe shows a clear understanding of world historical movements. An unlikely duo, the authors should be read in academic circles as the European Union considers its own identity and new constitution. Recommended.-Anna M. Donnelly, St. John's Univ. Lib., New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Reasserting Europe's Christian identity and rebutting modern moral relativism, Rome packs a formidable punch. Attacking "anything goes" ethics has become a cornerstone of Benedict XVI's papacy. Here, months before becoming pontiff in April 2005, Ratzinger (The Legacy of John Paul II, 2005), elected pope in April 2005, engages in provocative dialogue with the president of the Italian Senate. These days, they say, belief itself is damned either as "fundamentalist" or "imperialist." To claim that Western democracy, for example, is in any way "better" than Islamic sharia provokes outrage. And so the West, paralyzed by apologetic self-loathing, is in retreat. To address its crisis of confidence, Ratzinger argues, Europe mustn't only atone for such sins of its progress as arrogance and colonialism, but defend those values that Pera maintains are essentially Western-liberalism, the rule of law, tolerance. Christians must act as creative minorities, living the Gospel as a critique of a prevalent culture of materialism, consumerism and ennui. Taking on philosophical heavyweights from Nietzsche to Derrida, these polemicists are feisty thinkers: In fact, Pera's "just war" defense of America's Iraq incursion is downright scary. Ratzinger's is the more measured voice, and his skill at synthesizing vast historical currents from the time of the fifth-century pope, Gelasius I, to yesterday is significant. From commentary on bioethical dilemmas to the war on terrorism, Ratzinger/Pera deliver a primer on orthodox Catholic social theology, circa 2005. Sure to spark controversy, their manifesto is required reading for any student of comparative religion or Vatican politics-and, as Ratzinger's predecessorproved, Rome's politics can indeed shape the world. Sharp intellect in service of moral vision.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465006274
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 451,542
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the late Pope John Paul II, and has long been regarded as one of the most profound Catholic theological and spiritual writers of our times. His numerous books include God and the World, Introduction to Christianity, Salt of the Earth, and The Spirit of Liturgy. Marcello Pera, a professor of the philosophy of science at the University of Pisa, is also President of the Italian Senate. He lives in Italy.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A convergence of ideas

    The most remarkable thing about this little book is not so much the particular issues that are discussed in it. The last few years have seen an increased concern expressed by many Europeans (and others) about the direction in which that continent is headed. What is remarkable is that there is increasingly a convergence of ideas that point to the solution of Europe's long term ills. In this book two extraordinary intellectual giants (one a Pope and another a philosopher and the president of the Italian senate) present their views of those ills from an essentially the same vantage point. There is yet a hope that not everything is lost.

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