Today's conventional wisdom among those who write about global politics is that Europe is in decline and nothing more than a museum of the past. The future, they say, will be driven by Asia, particularly China and India. A recent article ended by saying, "Europe is yesterday's news; Asia is tomorrow's."
It is the position of this publication that Europe will be tomorrow's news and is not an irrelevant relic of the past. Bible prophecy shows clearly that Europe will be at the center of a religious-economic system that will rise and astound the world. Claire Berlinski has written a book that reminds us how quickly events can change.
Berlinski is a secular Jew whose grandparents fled the Holocaust. She has lived, worked and studied in Europe and thus has a good perspective of events shaping the current European mood. She writes about the terrorist threat to the continent, the anti-Semitism in France and the cultural climate of Germany. Her chapter on the German fascination with the music group Rammstein is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the potential locked within the Teutonic soul.
She writes, "Europe is peaceful, prosperous, free, and democratic, relatively speaking... Europe's achievements since the Second World War have been real and significant... The great powers of Europe are no longer cannibalizing one another. The Furor Teutonicus has for the moment subsided. No doubt, much of the darkness has been repressed. But the repressed is known for returning" (p. 5, emphasis added).
Her stories are based on travel and observation and are tied together by two themes. Here is how she states them. "The first is that Europeans are behaving now as Europeans have always behaved. Many seemingly novel developments in European politics and culture are in fact nothing new at all—they have ancient roots in Europe's past.
"And what is that past? From the sack of Rome to the Yalta conference, that past has been one of nearly uninterrupted war and savagery. Ethnic wars, class wars, revolutionary wars, religious wars, wars of ideology, and genocide are not aberrations in Europe's history; they are its history.
"An [interlude] from these ancient conflicts endured from 1945 to the end of the Cold War when Europe's destiny was in the hands of the two superpowers. With the collapse of the Soviet empire, however, history has reasserted itself. Those disturbing sounds you hear from Europe are its old, familiar ghosts. They are rattling their chains.
"The second theme is that this history has culminated in a peculiar palpable European mood. Europeans, especially young Europeans, sense in their lives a cultural, spiritual, and ideological void, one that is evident in the art, language, the literature of contemporary Europe; in the way they talk about their existence in cafes, in discotheques, and on the Internet; in their music, in their heroes, in their family lives; and above all in the way they face threats to their own civilization—and ours" (pp. 6-7).
Berlinski is blunt and perceptive about the various problems afflicting Europe today, but she also points out that America cannot overlook the implications that a changing demography or Muslim immigration has made on the nations. They must be understood within the historical and cultural mix that is unique to Europe. I would also add the need for a biblical perspective to fully understand what this means for the future. Europe will have a significant impact on America's future. The perceptive subtitle to the book is, "Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too."
To the questions, "Why should Europe concern us now? Can't we just leave them to their own devices and forget about them at last?", she answers, "No, we can't." She continues, "A United Europe...is a major power—one bigger than the United States in territory and population. A morally unmoored Europe...poses a threat to American interests and objectives everywhere on the planet" (p. 11).
Berlinski is fair in saying that some of the problems of Europe are also found in America. Among the intellectual elite you can find rabid anti-Americanism. Immigration is a threat to American security. But she makes a perceptive statement that should be a warning for anyone looking to Europe as a social model. "Europe is a test case, a laboratory, that shows us exactly where some of these ideas lead."
Each chapter of her book offers an engaging and well-written analysis of modern Europe. It is her conclusion that ties all this together into a warning for any student of history and Bible prophecy.
"As someone who has spent time thinking about Europe and its history, I do not prophesy the imminent demise of European democratic institutions, nor do I predict imminent catastrophe on European soil. But I don't rule out these possibilities either. Europe's entitlement economy will collapse. Its demography will change. The European Union may unravel. Islamic terrorists may succeed in taking out a European city. We have no idea what these events would herald, but it is possible and reasonable to imagine a very ugly outcome.
"And once again, the only people to whom this will come as a surprise are those who have not been paying attention" (pp. 245-246).
Her concluding statement is another way of saying, "Watch," which is exactly what Christ told us to do in Matthew 24:42. Read this book to understand Europe today and how it will impact the future. WNP