Religion and the Rise of Western Culture by Christopher Henry DawsonIn this new edition of his classic work, Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, Christopher Dawson addresses two of the most pressing subjects of our day: the origin of Europe and the religious roots of Western culture. With the magisterial sweep of Toynbee, to whom he is often compared, Dawson tells here the tale of medieval Christendom. From the brave travels of sixth-century Irish monks to the grand synthesis of Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, Dawson brilliantly shows how vast spiritual movements arose from tiny origins and changed the face of medieval Europe from one century to the next. The legacy of those years of ferment remains with us in the great cathedrals, Gregorian chant, and the works of Giotto and Dante. Even more, though, for Dawson these centuries charged the soul of the West with a spiritual concern -- a concern that he insists can never be entirely undone except by the total negation or destruction of Western man himself.
The relation between Natural Theology and humanist culture. Its development as the classical theology of humanism and its failure to withstand the radical secularization of the humanist tradition. The new attitude to religion which characterizes the reaction against the Enlightenment. The romantic philosophies of religion and the study of symbol and myth. The concept of evolutionary development and the comparative study of religions. Influence of anthropology and psychology on religious studies. Development of the comparative science of religion during the last sixty years.
Religion and the Rise of Western Culture. The Crisis of Western Education. It must have its roots in the earth, and for sunlight it needs to be open to the spiritual. At the present moment we are busy cutting its roots and shutting out all light from above. Christopher Dawson was a historian of religion and culture whose main thesis was that religion is one of the great driving forces of history and a crucial factor in the rise and fall of civilizations. In support of this argument, he carried out a wide-ranging study of history from ancient civilizations to medieval Christendom and the modern world.
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He was among the brightest students I have taught. We had just finished talking about how and why Freudian or Marxists interpretations of reality are suffocating in their reductionistic interpretations. The conversation moved to the writings of Christopher Dawson that are happily being reprinted by Catholic University Press of America. Now we were onto a grand quest. My first response was that religion, as understood by Dawson, is not a mere accident of human nature, but an essential characteristic or quality of the human condition that manifests itself throughout culture. Additionally, human cultures as envisioned and developed by various people through history act back upon and shape our religious impulse.
Dawson has been called "the greatest English-speaking Catholic historian of the twentieth century". Dawson was born into family deep roots in the English gentry as the only son of Lt. Colonel H. He obtained 2nd class honours in Modern History at Oxford in He also read the work of the German theologian Ernst Troeltsch. His background was Anglo-Catholic but he became a Roman Catholic convert in They had two daughters and one son.