Thursday, February 26, 2009

The one thing necessary

The British historian Christopher Dawson, writing in 1938, aptly expressed the enduring role of this tradition, not only for Catholics, but for anyone who is both grateful for the moral, material, and political achievements of Western culture and concerned about the perils that beset it today.

If Christianity is necessary to Europe, the Catholic Church is no less necessary to Christianity, for without it the latter would become no more than a mass of divergent opinions dissolving under the pressure of rationalist criticism and secularist culture. It was by virtue of the Catholic ideal of spiritual unity that the social unity of European culture emerged from the welter of barbarism, and the modern world stands no less in need of such an ideal if it is to realize in the future the wider unity of a world civilization.

Many of Christianity's enemies and most of its friends—whatever their creedal affiliation—have today begun to recognize the point Dawson was making.

Taken from A "Roamin' Catholic" and the Cultural Crisis | Interview with Gil Bailie, Cornerstone Forum

Saturday, January 03, 2009

History Within Culture

In the Spring 2008 issue of Communio, Glenn W. Olsen wrote a rather lengthy essay entitled “Why We Need Christopher Dawson”. I haven’t read too much in the way of scholarly history, but I’ve read enough to understand the differing views on the nature of history (i.e. what can we “know” from historial inquiry?). I find the topic fascinating and thus far* have not read a better treatment of it than N. T. Wright in Part II of The New Testament and the People of God. So when I read Olsen’s essay on Christopher Dawson’s approach to history through culture, I was very intrigued. I found myself agreeing with much of the essay, and can second Olsen’s opinion that we need more of a Christopher Dawson view of history in the world.

Read parts I, II and III, h/t la nouvelle theologie