7th Annual Event Recordings:
Lepanto: The Battle and The Poem
On October 7, 1571, the most important sea battle in history was fought near the mouth of what is today called the Gulf of Patras, then the Gulf of Lepanto. The war galleys of the Holy League confronted those of the Ottoman Turks, rowed by tens of thousands of Christian galley slaves. Although the battle decided the future of Europe, few Europeans, and even fewer European Americans, know the story much less how close Western Europe came to suffering an Islamic conquest.
On October 7, 1911, G.K. Chesterton honored the battle with the greatest ballad of the 20th Century. He wrote it while the postman impatiently waited for the copy. It remained popular for years. John Buchan, wrote to Chesterton in 1915 from the trenches in France, “We shouted your Lepanto to one another today....” Little wonder that the poem’s stirring images would be an inspiration to soldiers locked in a struggle for the soul of Europe. The ballad is no less inspiring today and is more timely than ever as the West faces the growing threat of Islam. Chesterton’s celebration of this signal moment in history is a needed reminder that Europe without Christ is emptied of meaning, and that Islam is an age-old enemy of the West. As the political and religious conflicts of 16th-Century Europe were imperiling civil harmony and national security, the Turk was threatening to devour Christendom. It took the daring leadership of one man, the deep faith of a great pope, and the intervention of the Blessed Virgin to save it.
Liberation from E-Slavery
“Science” and “technology” are words that go hand-in-hand and are even mistaken for synonyms. True science is simply inquiry. Technology is about control. Some technologies are intrinsically evil: The purpose for which they were designed is wicked. The contraceptive pill is one example.
Other technologies, while not intrinsically evil, can produce bad effects when wrongly used, for example, mirrors. A score of other examples can be found in the myriads of gadgets and systems that comprise the world of modern communication technology.
We have today at our disposal more devices and systems with which to communicate information than ever in history. Computers and iPhones, Internet, email, and text messaging: all promise greater efficiency and freedom. But do they deliver? Or do these devices enslave us? Far from strengthening human relationships, they render them more abstract and distant. They divorce us from reality and make the truth harder to uncover. Worse still, they serve as obstacles to our relationship with the Divine. The English philosopher and poet, G.K. Chesterton, saw this danger in his own day, and sounded the warning years ago. His insights can help us navigate our own age’s “information superhighway” and find silence amidst the “enervating din” of modern communication technology.
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