December 12, 2017

Athens and Jerusalem

View of Jerusalem (Conrad Grünenberg, 1487)

Il fatto è che questa non è una città: questa è la vita di ciascuno di noi, che a volte c’illude e a volte ci fa disperare, a volte ci sembra irreale, a volte inutile. La nostra avventura interiore, il nostro eterno viaggio, la nostra vera crociata, è la conquista di un senso da dare alla vita. Questa è la Gerusalemme della quale abbiamo bisogno, alla quale aspiriamo.
(The fact is that this is not a city—this is everyone’s life. Sometimes she deceives us, and other times she drives us to despair, she seems unreal at times, and at other times useless. It is our inner adventure, our eternal journey, our true crusade, and the achievement of giving life a meaning. This is the Jerusalem we need, the one we dream about.)

~ Franco Cardini, Gerusalemme. Una storia (English translation mine)

The above quote came to mind almost as soon as I started reading a gorgeous article at American Thinker titled “What Has Jerusalem to Do with America?” by Fay Voshell. The article takes its cue from the furor following President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but carefully avoids any excess and tries to keep a high profile.

Since the incipit Voshell captures the attention of the reader by quoting a statement by Tertullian—the founder of Latin Christian literature and one of the most powerful formative influences in Western Christian culture—concerning the importance of Jerusalem as contrasted with the secular city of Athens. He wrote, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? After we become Christians, we have no need of Greek philosophy.” Well, somehow paradoxically Tertullian’s drastic view, his outright hostility toward the entanglement of religion and the world, has largely been adopted by the left and, in general, by those who believe in radical separation of church and state: Jerusalem has nothing to do with Athens—or America and the West. They have a substitute, secular vision for the world. This substitute vision, says Voshell, is presently called globalism. And globalism

has a deep interest in supplanting Judaism and Christianity, both of which share the eternal spiritual vision of Jerusalem as the holy city whose foundational principles are critical to any society choosing justice and righteousness above power and might.
The globalist vision is against any particular identification by nation or religion. To acknowledge Jerusalem […] is to ratify the cornerstone beliefs of Western civilization while the real desire is to allow two competitors for a new world vision to advance their dreams of empire. The one is the secularist vision of the E.U. and the United Nations; the other is the vision of a global caliphate.
[…] What is at the heart of the debate over Jerusalem is the spiritual foundations of Western civilization. What is being sought is the extermination of the Judeo-Christian consensus that has animated the West and now increasingly much of the globe, ever more gradually over the last five thousand years. What is being hoped for is the actualization of an alternate vision, be it secular or Islamist, by assimilating or destroying Jerusalem. Opposing visions cannot tolerate the vision of the Holy City.
But the truth is that Jerusalem is like no other city.
She is not like El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold that men vainly sought for attaining wealth and fame. Nor is she the city where the Fountain of Youth was sought that men might live forever. Nor is she like fabled Troy, city of Priam’s treasure and the beauteous Helen, both exquisite but mortal. Nor is she the mythical city of Atlantis, powerful and beautiful but sunk forever into the dark seas.
All of those cities have perished, only to become myths, the legends of which continue to fade.
Jerusalem is the Eternal City allied with eternal truth. No one can take her identity from her, even though once again, as it has for thousands of years, a great Beast slouches toward Bethlehem.
She remains a light to the world—a beacon for the past, for the present and for the future.
Jerusalem is the Shining City on the Hill.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? What else can I say? Amen!