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Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson Hardcover – November 16, 2007
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About the Author
Bradley J. Birzer is Assistant Professor of History at Hillsdale College. A Senior Fellow with the Center for the American Idea in Houston, he has written extensively on Tolkien, James Fenimore Cooper, the American frontier and American Indians, and Christopher Dawson.
Top Customer Reviews
Bradley Birzer traces the contours of Dawson's intellectual biography more fully than any previous scholar. Rooted in dispostive research and written with deep sensitivity to the centrality of Dawson's faith to his scholarship, Birzer provides both an outstanding introduction to Dawson's thought and much material for seasoned Dawson scholars to ponder. Sanctifying the World is a fine contribution to the ongoing revival of interest in Dawson's thought and in the Catholic literary revival generally.
Keenly aware of the horrors of totalitarian government, yet also aware of the dangers of "totalitarian" free-markets, Dawson recognized the reality that humanity thrives not as a manipulatable mass or a disinterested collection of free agents, but as a culture. In Europe this culture had Christian roots that grew out of the ashes of the Roman empire. That culture developed over the course of centuries. Dawson realized that though it took many generations to mature, culture could only be sustained by a people willing to live up to it's ideals and truths. And it could be destroyed in an instant by those seeking only the "new" and who somehow considered its past as of little consequence.
Dawson took up the challenge of trying to sustain and nurture Christian culture at one of its darkest hours. Like Chesterton, Dawson's insight and understanding is pertinent now more than ever. His influence can clearly be seen in the works of Eliot but more recently in the works of Pope John Paul II. For artists in particular, Dawson reminds that the power of poetry, paint and music does not aimlessly spew from the fountain of individual whim, but blossoms from the rich soil of works, and indeed the very lives, of those whose world we inherit.
Bradley Birzer has done a great service by resurrecting the story and the ideas of Christopher Dawson. Highly recommended to historians, theologians, philosophers and artists alike.
I don't know if this book will Sanctify the World, but I know it confirmed me in the work that I have been engaged in during the past four years---trying to help bridge the chasm that exists within my little section of the vineyard.
I felt the Holy Spirit speaking through this book from the outset and I commend Bradley for his evenhanded treatment of an enigmatic man whom 95 out of 100 Catholics alive today have probably never even heard of. I have not met a priest, sister, or layman in the past week (20 or so queried) that recognized the name. This first taste of Christopher Dawson has moved me to greatly desire to read more.
By today's standard of success/failure, Dawson's life seems a dismal failure, and yet isn't that the way of the prophets and saints?
He speaks to humanity in 2008 and seems to have known all along what this "end state" of western culture would look like. Like Aldous Huxley's extended vision in The Brave New World Revisted, Christopher Dawson predicted a de-humanized, overorganized world that would be arrayed against the Eternal City of God, Incarnate in the Catholic Church. They arrive at this conclusion from different persectives (humanist vs. Christian humanist) but as G.K. Chesterton would say, that is a sure indication that they are both glimpsing at the Christocentic truth, the center of all that is.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well documented, inspiring, trends to be Roman Catholic in iets view, and is using Dawson to support modern North American conservatism. But a job well done!Published 1 month ago by R. Holvast
This book tells the fascinating story of a great Catholic intellectual. The writing is a bit turgid, but the subject makes up for an academic writing style. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Joseph A. Franceski
Christopher Dawson is an overlooked genius. When C. S. Lewis and Russell Kirk
both admire you for your insights, you know you're worth reading.
As the title of Professor Birzer's book suggests, this biography chronicles more of Christopher Dawson's spiritual life than his social life--Dawson was a shy man anyway. Read morePublished on May 27, 2008 by M. T. Streeter