Complementary lectures delivered in May 2004 and the lecturers' letters of response to one another make up a small, potent book on the topic that Bruce Bawer's startling While Europe Slept (2006) gives electrifying currency: the decline and all-too-possible fall of European culture to the radical Islam that Mary Habeck in Knowing the Enemy (2006) calls "jihadism." Pera, a philosopher of science who has become president of the Italian senate, dissects political correctness and the condition of which it is a symptom, cultural relativism. Ratzinger, who a year later became Pope Benedict XVI, summarizes Europe's Christian heritage with breathtaking concision and historical mastery. Both men see Europe today in a crisis of identity that has made it largely unable and unwilling to defend its culture against intransigent Islam, and both call for revivifying Christian identity. In his letter, Pera advocates nondenominational Christianity as the basis of a revitalized Europe; in his, Ratzinger propounds the conditions for a pan-European Christian civil religion such as Pera outlines. An engrossing, enlightening, extremely timely discussion. Ray Olson
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