Author: WU Ke, PhD Candidate, School of History, Beijing Normal University
Almost all great 20th century thinkers have reflected on one or both of the two key topics of their age: the secularization of the modern world and the evils of modernity experienced during two world wars. Christopher Dawson, a Catholic historian, and author of many books on religion, culture and history, has tried to offer a Catholic perspective on these difficult topics. Although he represents the more conservative ideas that preceded the Second Vatican Council, and his writings carry a strong apologetic for the Christian Church, one can see clearly in his works an effort to balance the need to respond to a changing society and to hold fast to one’s faith tradition. For Dawson, Christian culture constitutes one of the foundations of western civilization, and one of the dynamics of world history. This article is a review of Dawson’s book Dynamics of World History but extends its analysis to a broader cultural and historical setting, commenting on contributions and weakness of Dawson’s methodology and historical views. The tension between culture and religion, tradition and modernity, change and preservation is a challenge to each age and society, and Dawson’s thought and methodology may provide critical insight for our thinking today.
Christopher Dawson, Dynamics of World History, Catholicism
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