Like a Candle in Berlin suggests an interesting interpretation of our community response to terrorist attacks. What’s more, it suggests that humanity, while disregarding religion as being difficult and inconvenient, still seeks some sort of spiritual comfort in times of crisis and after senseless tragedy. The author also gently suggests that this is a simplistic and naive response, which, while probably does no harm, also does not do much good, other than to provide a little self-assurance of our own good nature and pure intentions.
I like that the author notes that this is not a terminal naivete, though he does not speculate on the motivation that will be necessary to snap us out of our need for candles for comfort and into mature action (whatever that might be).
While the author does not go this far, his article can lead one to the conclusion that rejection of the discipline of religion in exchange for the easy, lost-cost, no-obligation form of spirituality is a step backward in humanity’s maturity. This is consistent with our current culture of “Snowflakes” who aren’t mature enough to exist in the free and open discussion found in college environment without sensitivity warnings, and with our society’s general response of instant offense and violent response to viewpoints different from our own, rather than the more difficult and disciplined path of encouraging open discussion and making an effort to use education and understanding to resolve differences (or, which is perceived as worse yet, learning to live in peace with people who hold different viewpoints from our own).
Yes, I recognize that this is a broad conclusion based upon a single article. I also realize that this opinion might be offensive to those of a spiritual-but-not-religious persuasion. I hope only to generate thoughtful discussion, and I welcome discussion that might dispel my conclusion.
Thanks to Maggie’s Farm for posting the link to this very thoughtful article by Theodore Dalrymple, Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, a magazine published by that institute.