Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Hour of Darkness

TODAY the enemy is not the humanitarian liberalism which was a kind of secularized version of Christian moral idealism. It is a new power which tramples every human right and ideal under foot. Under the shadow of this new threat the partial conflicts have divided Western culture no longer have the same meaning, and the cause of God and the cause of humanity have become one. The law of charity is not alien to human nature and does not stand in opposition to the ideals of freedom and social progress that have inspired Western culture in modern times. On the contrary, it is the only law that can save mankind from the iron law of power which destroys the weak by violence and the strong by treachery. For the new paganism has nothing in common with the poetical idealization of Hellenic myth by the humanists and classicists of recent centuries: it is the unloosing of the powers of the abyss—the dark forces that have been chained by a thousand years of Christian civilization and which have now been set free to conquer the world. For the will to power is also the will to destruction, and in the last event it becomes the will to self-destruction. 

In these dark times there must be many who feel tempted to despair when they see the ruin of the hopes of peace and progress that inspired the Liberal idealism of the last century, and the perversion of the great achievements of human knowledge and power to serve the devilish forces of destruction. Never, perhaps, has a civilization suffered such a total subversion of its own standards and values while its material power and wealth remained almost intact, and in many respects greater than ever. 

To Christians, however, the shock and the disillusionment should be less severe than to those who have put their faith in the nineteenth-century gospel of secular progress. For the Christian faith never minimized the reality of the forces of evil in history and society, as well as in the life of the individual, and it has prepared men’s minds to face the extreme consequences of the external triumph of evil, and the apparent defeat of good. Yet none the less it is no defeatist philosophy; it is a triumphant affirmation of life—of eternal life victorious over death, of the kingdom of God prevailing over the rulers of this world of darkness.

~Christopher Dawson: in The Judgment of the Nations. (1942)

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