An Historian’s Hope for Humanity

“The forces that appear to make human civilization so irresistible – its wealth, its economic organization, and its military power – are essentially hollow, and crumble to dust as soon as the human purpose that animates them loses its strength. The real forces that rule the world are spiritual ones, and every empire and civilization waits for the hour when the sentence of the watchers goes forth and its kingdom is numbered and finished. The spirit of life goes out of its social traditions and institutions and a new age is begun. Thus from age to age the divine purpose towards the human race is carried on, and even the civilization which appears to resist that purpose is the unwilling servant of a power that it does not recognize.

Today the world is ripe for renewal… The process of secularization has worked itself out to its logical conclusions… and it can go no further”.

[Christopher Dawson, historian of religion and culture, 1935]

4 thoughts on “An Historian’s Hope for Humanity

  1. Interesting judgement about what really drives civilisations (and you need not even introduce divine purpose to see that it is so). But the closing remark – my word:
    “The process of secularization has worked itself out to its logical conclusions… and it can go no further”… in 1935
    I can see why he might have said so at the time, but in retrospect, what an astonishingly wrong judgement!

    Has the process, even now, gone as far as it can go? It has already gone much further than logic can take it, but once logic is abandoned there seems to be no lowest floor.

    • I agree Andrew. Prescient as he was, even Dawson couldn’t envisage the degree of secularisation of today. He had hopes that the world would tire of the meaninglessness of secular existence, and that there would be a spiritual renaissance in the west. One would hope so too, but it all seems problematic, and as you say things could get worse! Nice to hear from you. How are things? Cheers, Paul.

  2. Sorry to have been silent so long, Paul. Things are now well with me, by and large, after a difficult few years. I trust they are so for you, also.

    I still get notifications of your posts, and often read them. I will try to be a little more active here, and hope to start some conversations – there must be somebody else about, surely…

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