The biggest shock to me about the hoopla surrounding Bishop Williamson's "holocaust denial" was the revelation that it is actually against the law in Germany to voice such opinions. My respect for Germany immediately decreased. To outlaw discussion about the numbers of people killed during the Holocaust seems like the behavior of a spoiled child to me, a child in the midst of a tantrum, stamping its foot and shrieking.
I was reminded of this again on Sunday night as I read the The Great Conversation by Robert M. Hutchins. It is the first volume of Encyclopedia Brittanica's Great Books of the Western World series, first published in 1952. Each book was selected on the basis of its ability to further the "Great Conversation" of Western civilization. Mr. Hutchins says:
The tradition of the West is embodied in the Great Conversation that began in the dawn of history and that continues to the present day. Whatever the merits of other civilizations in other respects, no civilization is like that of the West in this respect. No other civilization can claim that its defining characteristic is a dialogue of this sort. No dialogue in any other civilization can compare with that of the West in the number of great works of the mind that have contributed to this dialogue. The goal toward which Western society moves is the Civilization of the Dialogue. The spirit of Western civilization is the spirit of inquiry. Its dominant element is the Logos. Nothing is to remain undiscussed. Everybody is to speak his mind. No proposition is to be left unexamined. (emphasis mine) The exchange of ideas is held to be the path to the realization of the potentialities of the race.
"Nothing is to remain undiscussed." I pondered this thought for a long time, thinking how differently Bishop Williamson would have been treated if the West still believed it.
Then I was drawn back to this sentence: "Its dominant element is the Logos."
The Logos, the Word. Though I doubt that this was the meaning that Mr. Hutchins intended, I was reminded of the Last Gospel.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Western civilization has rejected the "dominant element", her life force--rejected the light. And so she descends into darkness and death.