John Paul detects both naiveté and a proclivity toward excess in the otherwise admirable modern celebration of human freedom. (The point here is not far from Tocqueville's insight, which can be traced back to Aristotle's study of regimes, that the exaggeration of the dominant principle of a regime can be its undoing.) There is a tendency, the pope writes, "to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values." The radicalization of the modern project... severs the bond between freedom and truth. The result is a persistent flirtation with nihilism or what John Paul calls "the culture of death," a temptation whose roots are masked by our continued use of the noble-sounding language of dignity and freedom. What appears to elevate and dignify actually trivializes. If there is no standard, except that bestowed upon it by the agent himself, in light of which we can appraise choices as better or worse, good or evil, then every choice is equally reasonable and good or, for that matter, equally meaningless.In plain English, freedom isn't free. It has enemies without - and within. At Right Reason, Roger Kimball writes of the last pope:
The priest who officiated at my wedding opined that John Paul was the most important Pope-theologian since Gregory the Great. Gregory died in 604, so there has been a lot of competition. Still, I suspect my friend was right... He was... our advocate: we whose poverty survives affluence and plenty. For us, John Paul saw, the great temptations were nihilism -- the rejection of meaning and the repudiation of truth -- and scientism, "the illusion that, thanks to scientific and technical progress, man and woman may live as a demiurge, single-handedly and completely taking charge of their destiny." We are not demiurges, only fallible human beings.Mark Steyn also has some interesting things to say about John Paul. I can't quote and do him justice, you'll have to check it out for yourself. Get Religion writes ably about the NY Times' journalistic tricks, as evidenced by their 'insert quote here' gaffe on the Pope's passing:
"False balance," on the other hand, is when a reporter or news team has a very one-sided, slanted story written and then, to add balance, will call one person on the other side for one paragraph of protest to the revealed truths contained in the news report.Don't think the CBC doesn't do this too. Stephen Bainbridge writes that JPII's grasp of economics was better than that of most theologians. There's something to this. I've read a lot of dreadful economic analysis from Catholics writers and thinkers who are out of their league on this subject.