Thursday, February 23, 2006

"The changing of the world became an integral part of its cultural ideal"

It would be a strange fatality if the great revolution by which Western man has subdued nature to his purposes should end in the loss of his own spiritual freedom, but this might well happen if an increasing technical control of the state over the life and thought of its members should coincide with a qualitative decline in the standards of our culture.

An ideology in the modern sense of the word is very different from a faith, although it is intended to fill the same sociological functions. It is the work of man, an instrument by which the conscious political will attempts to mould the social tradition to its purpose.

But faith looks beyond the world of man and his works; it introduces man to a higher and more universal range of reality than the finite and temporal world to which the state and the economic order belong. And thereby it introduces into human life an element of spiritual freedom which may have a creative and transforming influence on man's social culture and historical destiny as well as on his inner personal experience.

If therefore we study a culture as a whole, we shall find there is an intimate relation between its religious faith and its social achievement. Even a religion which is explicitly other-worldly and appears to deny all the values and standards of human society may, nevertheless, exert a dynamic influence on culture and provide the driving forces in movements of social change.

"Religion is the key of history," said Lord Acton, and to-day, when we realize the tremendous influence of the unconscious on human behavior and the power of religion to bind and loose these hidden forces, Acton's saying has acquired a wider meaning than he realized.

...Western civilization has been the great ferment of change in the world, because the changing of the world became an integral part of its cultural ideal...

-excerpt from Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, by Christopher Dawson (emphasis mine)

1 Comments:

At 8:14 PM, February 24, 2006, Blogger Tito said...

I'm too drunk for this post

 

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