Tom Woods–the man behind so many great things in this crazy world–is holding a massive sale for his online college, Liberty Classroom. I’ve been privileged to be a part of this for the last several years, and I find it one of the most satisfying things I do.
My latest book, Beyond Tenebrae: Christianity Humanism in the Twilight of the West, is now out from Angelico Press. In it, I consider not the end of the West, but the twilight of the West and the individuals who have done so much to struggle against its demise.
“But the Christian God needs no world in order that He might be; subsisting alone He is sufficient until Himself. The doctrine of creation most decisively reveals the power of God, the Infinite Sovereign. The world was created out of nothing by the freedom of the Almighty Whose commanding Word gives to all things being and nature; of itself that world lacks any trace of internal necessity or external possibility. This created universe is found only in the Bible. Elsewhere the origin of the universe was always thought to have been mythical; either some formless chaos had evolved into the world or some divine power had fashioned it from an equally formless chaos. The Revelation of Scripture contradicted all such myth: the world is created by a God Who does not have to create in order that He might be, nor does He need the elements of the world in order that He might create.”
“The reason for this is simple and statement, massive and theoretical implication. The future does not lie in the present. Nor did the present, as we know it, ever lie in the past. What is at issue here is a whole, wide-ranging, encompassing habit of mind, one that has been deep in Western thought ever since the pre-Socratic Greeks made the momentous analogy between the biological organism and social structure, declaring that his growth isn’t in alienable attribute of organismic structure, so change — that is a ‘natural’ pattern of change needing only to be described by the sociologists as the lifecycle of growth is described by the biologist — is an inalienable part of the structure of whatever social system we may have in view at any given moment. We have all around us, today has in the days of the organism intoxicated Greeks, is the spell of the metaphor of growth. Closely associated is another metaphor: the metaphor of genealogy. This is of more interest to historians, and has been since the time of Thucydides, that it usually is to the growth fascinated sociologists and economists and political scientists. Here we are dealing with the imagined genealogical linkage of events, acts and personages in history.”
–Robert Nisbet, The Making of Modern Society, pp. 84-85.
As noted on the slide itself, this slide compares and considers, arguably, the seven most influential male conservatives of the 20th century: Irving Babbitt; Friedrich Hayek; Christopher Dawson; Eric Voegelin; Leo Strauss; Russell Kirk; and Harry Jaffa. [As a sidenote, had I included Paul Elmer More, his reputation would have paralleled, almost exactly, Irving Babbitt’s, so I left it off for sake of clarity.] This chart makes several things clear. First, and most significantly, the most important conservative thinker of the century came at its beginning, not its end: Irving Babbitt. At his height, Babbitt soared above all others, and he experienced three peaks. Second, the most important conservative as of 2008, without compare, is Leo Strauss. Yet, interestingly, his reputation declined rather shockingly during the Clinton years, and only rebounded with the election of George W. Bush. Third, Christopher Dawson and, to a lesser extent, Eric Voegelin each enjoyed considerable and sustained popularity over decades.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/05/russell-kirk-influence-conservative-authors-bradley-birzer.html
I’m very excited to announce that I have a forthcoming book (sometime this fall) from Angelico Press.
BEYOND TENEBRAE: Christian Humanism IN THE TWILIGHT OF THE WEST.
(initial) table of contents if you’re interested: PrefaceIntroduction: Beyond Tenebrae
Section I: Conserving Christian Humanism• Humanism: A Primer• Humanism: The Corruption of a Word• The Conservative Mind• Burke and Tocqueville• What to Conserve?• Conserving Humanism Section II: Personalities and Groups• T.E. Hulme: First Conservative of the Twentieth Century• Irving Babbitt’s Longings• Irving Babbitt and the Buddha• The Christian Humanism of Paul Elmer More• The Order Men• Willa Cather• Canon B.I. Bell• The Conversion of Christopher Dawson• Christopher Dawson and the Liberal Arts• The Gray Eminence of Christopher Dawson• Nicholas Berdyaev’s Unorthodoxy• Theodor Haecker: Man of the West• The Inklings• Two Tolkiens, Not One• Sister Madeleva Wolff• Peacenik Prophet: Russell Kirk• St Russell of Mecosta• Eric Voegelin• Eric Voegelin’s Gnosticism• Eric Voegelin’s Order• Flannery O’Connor• Clyde Kilby• Friedrich Hayek’s Intellectual Lineage• Ray Bradbury at His End• Shirley Jackson’s Haunting• Wendelin E Basgall• Julitta Kuhn Basgall• Ronald Reagan’s Ten Words• The Optimism of Ronald Reagan• Walter Miller’s Augustinian Wasteland• Alexander Solzhenitsyn as Prophet• The Ferocity of Marvin O’Connell• The Good Humor of Ralph McInerny• The Beautiful Mess that is Margaret Atwood; Conclusion: Confusions and Hope
I post this more out of interest rather than agreement. Here’s a young Christopher Dawson contemplating the intersection of property ownership, history, and culture. It was his fourth publication, but one can already see the penetrating thought and style that would characterize his more mature work.
98 years ago. . .
Source: Christopher Dawson, “The Land,” Blackfriars (June 1921): 137-145.