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Vantage from the West

October 26, 2023 3 min read
Globe from above

Pope Francis was cited this week for commenting in an interview that the West should not “export” its own “type of democracy” to other countries, entering a growing conversation about how Western nations tend to help or hurt conflicts like the one in Israel and Gaza.

He pointed to the destabilization of regions like Iraq after the removal of leaders like Saddam Hussein, who, he was quick to note, “was certainly not a little angel.” But in the wake of such Western interventions there has often come more tension, more war, more anarchy, those regions unable to assimilate the form of democracy being pushed upon them.

His comment is a helpful reminder that our politics – so often entangled in ideals of freedom and equality that we can more accurately trace back to the proud claims of the Enlightenment than to the perennial truths of the Gospel – won’t save the world. Pledging ultimate allegiance to the ideals of American democracy is not wisdom.

But we might be wary of a pendulum swing to the opposite extreme, too: no person or society gets to say (before God) that this is our way of doing things and therefore it’s just fine. Christ refuses to leave any culture untouched. He always transforms what he finds – no doubt in different ways – so as to be increasingly ordered according to the harmonies of heaven and the promises of revelation. And sometimes, there are political systems impossible to baptize, being rooted in fundamentally unjust practices. This is true even as it is also true that to populate the world with forms of Western ideology growing increasingly dark – in a preoccupation with personal and sexual liberation, and in an increasing hatred for God – is not our best road forward, either.

In this very large conversation about the arrangement of global political and social orders, what is needed is probably a more nuanced point of view than either West-haters or West-defenders are capable of providing. But there is a certain first step we might take: standing before God as we truly are, incapable of justice without Him, in need of His governance before our own.

In the United Kingdom (as in many other Western nations), the consequences of a massive decline in marriage have yet to be worked out. One bishop in England unpacks the reality facing the institution.

Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods have much to teach Christians worried about social breakdown: “It is much easier to maintain your beliefs in the natural and enchanted worlds if you live in a community where everyone else does too.”

Much has been made about the Synod in Rome. For the curious, Bishop Barron offers a first-hand account of a day in the life at the Synod.

Did God create humanity to sin only to blame us when we do?

Amidst the long-running persecution of Christians in Nigeria, a martyred monk is eulogized. Brother Godwin Eze, a Benedictine novice, was kidnapped on October 17 and killed the following day. His brothers remembered him as “very prayerful” and “very jovial.”

The Chosen season 4 will launch in February 2024, with all episodes launching in theaters on two-week runs: episodes 1-3 will debut on February 1, episodes 4-6 will debut on February 15, and episodes 7-8 will debut on February 29.

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