The Age of the Gods
Christopher Dawson Catholic University of America Press, 2012 Library of Congress CB301.D3 2012 | Dewey Decimal 930.1
When first published in 1928, The Age of the Gods was hailed as the best short account of what is known of pre-historic man and culture. In it, Christopher Dawson synthesized modern scholarship on human cultures in Europe and the East from the Stone Age to the beginnings of the Iron Age.
The English historian Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) was the first Catholic Studies professor at Harvard University and has been described as one of the foremost Catholic thinkers of modern times. His focus on culture prefigured its importance in Catholicism since Vatican Council II and in the rise of mainstream cultural history in the late twentieth century. How did Dawson think about culture and why does it matter? Joseph T. Stuart argues that through Dawson’s study of world cultures, he acquired a “cultural mind” by which he attempted to integrate knowledge according to four implicit rules: intellectual architecture, boundary thinking, intellectual asceticism, and intellectual bridges. Dawson’s multilayered approach to culture, instantiating John Henry Newman’s philosophical habit of mind, is key to his work and its relevance. By it, he responded to the cultural fragmentation he sensed after the Great War (1914-1918).
Stuart supports these claims by demonstrating how Dawson formed his cultural mind practicing an interdisciplinary science of culture involving anthropology, sociology, history, and comparative religion. Stuart shows how Dawson applied his cultural thinking to problems in politics and education.
This book establishes how Dawson’s simple definition of culture as a “common way of life” reconciles intellectualist and behavioral approaches to culture. In addition, Dawson’s cultural mind provides a synthesis helpful for recognizing the importance of Christian culture in education. It demonstrates principles which construct a more meaningful cultural history. Anyone interested in the idea of culture, the connection of religion to the social sciences, Catholic Studies, or Dawson studies will find this book an engaging and insightful intellectual history.
The Movement of World Revolution, originally published in 1959, explores many of the themes Dawson considered most important in his lifetime: the religious foundation of human culture, the central importance of education for the recovery of Christian humanism, the myth of progress, and the dangers of nationalism and secular ideologies.
Religion and Culture
Christopher Dawson Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BL55.D32 2013 | Dewey Decimal 306.6
Religion and Culture was first presented by historian Christopher Dawson as part of the prestigious Gifford Lecture series in 1947. It sets out the thesis for which he became famous: religion is the key of history
“This is the book we have been waiting for… a permanent enrichment of our understanding of the Oxford Movement” proclaimed The Downside Review upon the publication of Christopher Dawson’s masterwork in 1933, exactly 100 years after John Keble’s sermon "National Apostasy" stirred a nation. Dawson himself regarded the book as one of his two greatest intellectual accomplishments.
Dawson and John Henry Newman were Oxonians and both were converts to Catholicism; both stood against progressive and liberal movements within society. In both ideologies, Dawson saw a pathway that had once led to the French Revolution. Newman, for Dawson, was a kindred spirit.
In The Spirit of the Oxford Movement, Dawson goes beyond a mere retelling of the events of 1833 - 1845. He shows us the prime movers who sought a deeper understanding of the Anglican tradition: the quixotic Hurrell Froude, for instance, who "had none of the English genius for compromise or the Anglican faculty of shutting the eyes to unpleasant facts." It was Froude who brought Newman and Keble together and who helped them understand each other. In many ways, Dawson sees these three as the true embodiment of the Tractarian ethos.
Dawson probes deeply, though, to provide a richer, clearer understanding of the intellectual underpinnings of the Oxford Movement, revealing its spiritual raison d’être. We meet a group of gifted like-minded thinkers, albeit with sharp disagreements, who mock outsiders and each other, who pepper their letters with Latin, and forever urge each other on. Newman came to believe, as did Dawson, that the only intellectually coherent bastion against secular culture was religion, and the “on” to which they were urged was the Catholic church. The Spirit of the Oxford Movement provides insights into why Newman, and Dawson, came to this understanding.
This book is the first detailed examination of these four authors as part of a Roman Catholic, counter-modern community of discourse. It is informed by extensive research in the writers' works, scholarship on them, and their personal papers.