Christopher Dawson

Christopher Dawson (October 12, 1889 – May 25, 1970) was author of numerous books, articles, and scholarly monographs. He was lecturer in the History of Culture, University College, Exeter; Gifford lecturer and first Charles Chauncey Stillman Chair of Roman Catholic Studies at Harvard University from 1958 to 1962; and editor of the Dublin Review.

The Horrors of Modern Public Opinion

By |2019-08-16T23:25:25-05:00August 16th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Democracy, Fascism, Government, Politics, Senior Contributors, War, World War II|

Christopher Dawson believed that the free peoples of the Allied Powers in World War II had become too accustomed to employing scientifically-formed propaganda to create public opinion: “Public opinion can itself be the greatest enemy of freedom, as well as of peace, as soon as it becomes dominated by the negative destructive forces of [...]

Christopher Dawson on Becoming the Enemy in World War II

By |2019-08-09T21:40:28-05:00August 9th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Government, History, Politics, Senior Contributors, The Imaginative Conservative, War, Western Civilization, World War II|

Christopher Dawson worried about the actual physical changes wrought by World War II, but he worried far more about the moral changes. He lamented that even the democracies of the United Kingdom and the United States had come to resemble Nazi Germany far more than their nineteenth-century historical selves did. Throughout his writing career, [...]

Measuring the Influence of Russell Kirk and Other Conservative Authors

By |2019-05-17T10:22:05-05:00May 12th, 2019|Categories: Christopher Dawson, Conservatism, Culture, Eric Voegelin, Irving Babbitt, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|

By using Google’s Ngram Viewer, we find that Russell Kirk’s reputation hit its highpoint in 1964, and then began a painful decline that remained unabated until his death in 1994. What does Ngram tell us about other conservative authors, like Robert Nisbet, Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and Christopher Dawson? While I would never consider [...]

Christopher Dawson and Time

By |2019-07-30T14:07:48-05:00February 4th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christianity, Christopher Dawson, Christopher Dawson Series by Bradley Birzer, History, Senior Contributors, Time|

Christopher Dawson believed that history, far from being cyclical, was instead a particular manifestation of God’s will, and thus was “moving towards a great consummation, the revelation of the power and glory of Yahweh through his servant Israel”… As noted in previous essays in this series, Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), one of the greatest of [...]

Christopher Dawson and the Nature of Progress

By |2019-02-04T22:38:27-05:00January 28th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, Christopher Dawson, Christopher Dawson Series by Bradley Birzer, Heaven, History, Progressivism, Senior Contributors|

An understanding of progress and its adherents was not just of academic curiosity to Christopher Dawson. It was central to understanding the good life and preventing those who misunderstood history from gaining control and imposing the will of man upon the creation of God… “What has happened will happen again, and what has been [...]

Being Christopher Dawson’s Friend

By |2019-02-04T22:39:36-05:00January 16th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, Christopher Dawson, Christopher Dawson Series by Bradley Birzer, Senior Contributors|

Despite all Christopher Dawson’s quirks and social fears, friends flocked to him; together, they read poetry, discussed philosophy, farmed, and made crafts. Would there have been a European renaissance of Christian Humanism without this friendship centered around “Tiger Dawson”? Almost certainly not… Though he might very well have been the most important Christian Humanist intellectual [...]

Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind

By |2018-11-11T12:59:52-05:00April 3rd, 2018|Categories: Catholicism, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Christopher Dawson, Culture, Western Civilization|

The spirit of the Gospel…gives, asking nothing in return, and spends itself for others. It is essentially hostile to the spirit of calculation, the spirit of worldly prudence and above all to the spirit of religious self-seeking and self-satisfaction. Even the sinner who possesses a seed of generosity, a faculty of self-surrender, and an [...]

Etched in Glass and Stone: The Childhood of Christopher Dawson

By |2019-04-18T13:22:18-05:00March 20th, 2018|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Catholicism, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Christopher Dawson|

Stories of glass and stone—which told of the holy and sainted—convinced young Christopher Dawson that a saint was a saint not because of his or her individual talents, but as a continuation of the deepest longings and desires of the Church… In 1889, when Henry Christopher Dawson entered the world, he did so with [...]

Christopher Dawson and the Bourgeois Mind

By |2019-05-16T13:55:01-05:00March 7th, 2018|Categories: Christian Humanism, Christopher Dawson, Culture, Economics, Featured, Gerald Russello|

The bourgeois soul for Christopher Dawson is not found simply in support of the free market. The bourgeois soul is found when one puts money above God, in contrast to the religious man, who places God first… “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, [...]

The Conservatism of Robert Nisbet

By |2019-09-03T18:31:58-05:00January 7th, 2018|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Conservatism, Culture, Edmund Burke, History, Imagination, Irving Babbitt, Religion, Robert Nisbet, Romano Guardini, Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Tradition|

Robert Nisbet, in direct contrast to Russell Kirk, argued that conservatism was purely a modern ideology. For Nisbet, the entire history of conservatism began as a reaction to the French Revolution… When it came to the history of conservatism, the grand sociologist and man of letters, Robert Nisbet, disagreed with the mighty founder of [...]

A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Middle Ages

By |2018-03-01T16:10:32-05:00November 30th, 2017|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Culture, Featured, History, Western Civilization|

The Medieval Church culturally unified Christendom through a common language, Latin, and a common liturgy, tying men together with other men of their own time, but also with the whole communion of saints… “The Fight Between Carnival and Lent,” Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1559) Petrarch, ca. 1350, first employed the term “Medieval” [...]

When Men Became Human: Christopher Dawson’s 500 BC

By |2017-10-28T23:33:05-05:00August 30th, 2017|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, History, Natural Law, Philosophy|

Though Christopher Dawson remained unsure why the Natural Law developed, he did not hesitate to celebrate it. He remained firmly convinced that the development of Natural Law did not randomly emerge from individual genius, but rather believed that individual genius arose out of the various traditions and norms of each people… As a historian [...]

How Christopher Dawson Tried to Save History

By |2018-10-11T23:01:35-05:00August 21st, 2017|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Featured, History, Humanities, Politics|

Christopher Dawson stood as an antagonist against the conformity of progressive and professional history, and he rightly noted that such history negates not just personality but the very essence of creativity itself… While the domestic violence (criminals, cops, mobs) of this summer pales in comparison to the outrageous behaviors of the previous one, our [...]

How Would Christopher Dawson Redeem the West?

By |2019-07-14T13:53:06-05:00July 23rd, 2017|Categories: Catholicism, Christendom, Christianity, Christopher Dawson, John Henry Newman, Timeless Essays, Western Civilization|

Christopher Dawson held that the Christian religion created a distinctive culture that not only preceded, but has continued long after, the thirteenth century. It is only by examining this cultural dynamism that one can appreciate why modern society is a mutilated, or a “secularized,” version of Christendom… Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series [...]