Sunday, June 4, 2017

"A completely secularized culture is a world of make believe"

“NOW it is not the business of Christianity to defend our secularized Western culture from the menace of social or political revolution. From the Christian point of view there is not much to choose between passive agnosticism or indifferentism and active materialism. In fact, both of them may be different symptoms or phases of the same spiritual disease. What is vital is to recover the moral and spiritual foundations on which the lives of both the individual and the culture depend: to bring home to the average man that religion is not a pious fiction which has nothing to do with the facts of life, but that it is concerned with realities, that it is in fact the pathway to reality and the law of life. This is no easy task, since a completely secularized culture is a world of make believe in which the figures of the cinema and the cartoon-strip appear more real than the figures of the Gospel; in which the artificial cycle of wage earning and spending has divorced men from their direct contact with the life of the earth and its natural cycle of labor and harvest; and in which, even birth and death and sickness and poverty no longer bring men face to face with ultimate realities, but only bring them into closer dependence on the state and its bureaucracy so that every human need can be met by filling in the appropriate form.”

~Christopher Dawson: The Crisis of Western Education, Chap. XIII—The Religious Vacuum in Modern Culture.

"Their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil"

“AS soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy. The subordination of morals to politics, the reign of terror, the techniques of propaganda and psychological aggression can be used by any power or party that is bold enough to abandon moral scruples and plunge into the abyss.”

Religion and World History: A Selection from the Works of Christopher Dawson, Part III, Ch. 7.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

"The pathway to reality"

“NOW it is not the business of Christianity to defend our secularized Western culture from the menace of social or political revolution. From the Christian point of view there is not much to choose between passive agnosticism or indifferentism and active materialism. In fact, both of them may be different symptoms or phases of the same spiritual disease. What is vital is to recover the moral and spiritual foundations on which the lives of both the individual and the culture depend: to bring home to the average man that religion is not a pious fiction which has nothing to do with the facts of life, but that it is concerned with realities, that it is in fact the pathway to reality and the law of life. This is no easy task, since a completely secularized culture is a world of make believe in which the figures of the cinema and the cartoon-strip appear more real than the figures of the Gospel; in which the artificial cycle of wage earning and spending has divorced men from their direct contact with the life of the earth and its natural cycle of labor and harvest; and in which, even birth and death and sickness and poverty no longer bring men face to face with ultimate realities, but only bring them into closer dependence on the state and its bureaucracy so that every human need can be met by filling in the appropriate form.”

~Christopher Dawson: The Crisis of Western Education, Chap. XIII—The Religious Vacuum in Modern Culture. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

"The forces of destruction"

“OUR generation has been forced to realize how fragile and unsubstantial are the barriers the separate civilization from the forces of destruction. We have learnt that barbarism is not a picturesque myth or a half-forgotten memory of a long-passed stage of history, but an ugly underlying reality which may erupt with shattering force whenever the moral authority of a civilization loses its control.”

~Christopher H. Dawson: Gifford Lectures, 1948: Religion and the Rise of Western Culture. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Christians have allowed civilization to become secular”

“IF the Christian faith contains such vast sources of spiritual energy and power, if the Church is the divine organ of world transformation and the seed of a new humanity, how has it come about that the world—above all the Christian world—has fallen into its present plight? From the Christian point of view it is easy to understand persecution and external adversity and failure, but it is far harder to face the failure of Christianity on the spiritual plane. For it is not simply that modern civilization has become secularized, it is that Christians have allowed civilization to become secular.”

~Christopher H. Dawson: The Judgment of the Nations, Part II, Chap. 4.—Return to Christian Unity.

Monday, August 8, 2016

"The profound pessimism of Luther"

THE profound pessimism of Luther saw in Nature nothing but the kingdom of death and the Law of Nature as a law of wrath and punishment, and thus his extreme supernaturalism prepared the way for the secularisation of the world and the abolition of objective standards.

But the revolt against Natural Law did not only spring from

Martin Luther
the other worldliness of Luther and the Reformers. It found an even more powerful support in the worldliness of the Renaissance statesmen and thinkers. Already before the Reformation Machiavelli had produced his Intelligent Man’s Guide to Politics which studies the art of government as a non-moral technique for the acquisition and maintenance of power, thus depriving the state of its religious character as the temporal organ of divine justice and making the interests of the state the supreme law by which all political acts must be judged. This is the source of the “new jurisprudence” which took the place of the common law of Christendom and which Leo XIII explained in his political encyclicals* undermined the moral foundations of Western Civilization.



Niccolo Machiavelli

It leaves no room for the consecration of the state to God which is so solemnly and sacramentally expressed by the traditional rite of the coronation of Christian kings. On the contrary, it involved the secularization of the state and the desecration of law and authority. By emancipating the prince from subordination to a higher order, it destroyed both the principle of order and the principle of freedom in the state itself.

This false political realism which denies or ignores spiritual realities is no less fatal to the Christian tradition and no less destructive of Christendom as a social reality than was the false spiritualism of Luther. Indeed, its influence has been wider and deeper, since it has not been restricted to certain countries and peoples, but has influenced the thought of Catholics and Protestants alike, and has grown stronger with the progressive secularizing of our civilization. The thought of Luther belongs to a different world from that in which we live; he was still a man of the Middle Ages, though he was in revolt against medieval Catholicism. But the thought of Machiavelli is still alive in the modern world and finds expression in the words and deeds of modern politicians and dictators. As Pius XII writes in this Encyclical “Darkness over the Earth,” “Today the false views held in earlier times have been amalgamated with new invention and misconception of the human mind. And this perverse   process has been pushed so far that nothing is left but confusion and disorder. One leading mistake we may single out as the fountain head, deeply hidden, from which the evils of the modern State derive their origin. Both in private life and in the State itself and, moreover, in the mutual relations of State with State and country with country, the one universal standard of morality is set aside, by which we mean the Natural Law, now buried away under a mass of destructive criticism and neglect.”

~Christopher H. Dawson: The Judgment of the Nations, Part II, Chap. 2—Christian Social Principles. (1942)

* Leo XIII: Immortale Dei, and Libertas Praestantissimum.


The Judgment of the Nations

"Common principles and common ideals"

“EVERY society rests in the last resort on the recognition of common principles and common ideals, and if it makes no moral or spiritual appeal to the loyalty of its members, it must inevitably fall to pieces.”

~Christopher H. Dawson

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