Friday, January 27, 2012

Europa special(s), including Umberto Eco

Six European newspapers published special sections on Europe, i.e., the European Union. It's notable that the occasion for this special coordinated event is an interview with Angie on the European crisis.

The six are:

Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland)

The Guardian (UK)

Le Monde (France)

El País (Spain)

La Stampa (Italy)

Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)

The Guardian has this piece: Umberto Eco: 'It's culture, not war, that cements European identity' 01/26/2012. This is an interesting observation:

Asked to describe European identity in 2012, Eco says it is widespread but "shallow". "I am using an English word that is not the same as the Italian word superficiale, but which is somewhere between 'surface' and 'deep'. We must change this, before the crisis strips it [Europe] of everything.

"The university exchange programme Erasmus is barely mentioned in the business sections of newspapers, yet Erasmus has created the first generation of young Europeans. I call it a sexual revolution: a young Catalan man meets a Flemish girl – they fall in love, they get married and they become European, as do their children. The Erasmus idea should be compulsory – not just for students, but also for taxi drivers, plumbers and other workers. By this, I mean they need to spend time in other countries within the European Union; they should integrate."
Eco's wife is German, he's Italian. He speaks from experience.

I also found this observation of his intriguing:

"... Or does the problem [of European identity] go back to God - the fact that the United States becomes ever more religious as Europe becomes even less religious?

"That's the way it is. Back when Pope Wojtyla was still alive, there was much discussion on whether they should accept the European constitution and the continent's Christian roots. Secular people predominated and they did nothing about it. The church protested. There was however a third way, more difficult, but one that would give us strength today.

And that would have been to speak of the constitution of all our roots – the Greek-Roman, the Judaic and the Christian. In our past, we have both Venus and the crucifix, the Bible and Nordic mythology, which we remember with Christmas trees, or with the many festivals of St Lucy, St Nicolas and Santa Claus. Europe is a continent that was able to fuse many identities, and yet not confuse them.

That is precisely how I see its future. As for religion: be careful. Many people who no longer go to church end up falling prey to supersitition [sic]. And many who are non-practising still carry around a little saint card with a picture of Padre Pio in their wallets!"
Padre Pio was one of Pope John Paul II's more controversial canonizations, a guy who promoted a notably superstitious version of Catholicism.

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