Just last week my wife and I returned from a 15-day tour of Italy, accompanied by a group of 14 other travelers and a really outstanding tour director supported by local tour guides in every stop, which included Sorrento, the Amalfi coast, Pompeii, Rome, Vatican City, Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi, San Gimignano, Viareggio, Florence, and Venice. It was a really great trip, heavy on historical and cultural content, which I like, and in spite of some hassle in dealing with the ongoing COVIC protocols, not to mention my declining ability to deal with a heavy walking routine, but none of that detracted from the quality of the trip. And one of the best parts of the tour is that I went two weeks without a newspaper or cable news.
We have made seven trips to Europe in the past 15 years and in each case I have revisited the masterful 1970 BBC production, “Civilization: A Personal View by Lord Clark”, a sweeping, approximately 12-hour DVD tour of the historic places, structures, artifacts and legacy of the evolution of Western Civilization in Europe, as guided and described by the eminent art historian Lord Kenneth Clark, many of which we have visited on our trips. In marveling at these sights, one can’t help but feel some sadness in a way in the sense that they describe a world from which to a significant extent we have become alienated and no longer recognize. These are awesome places, with enormous implications for the historical development of Christendom, which was synonymous with Western Civilization, and many are now mostly museums and tourist stops. Who will sustain their viability in the story of the greatest civilization in world history in the absence of their grounding in the worldview that produced them? And, more importantly, who and what will follow in a next phase of civilizational evolution? I wonder.