Christopher Dawson was an English historian in the middle of the last century, one of those intellectuals prominent in his own day—T. S. Eliot called him “the most powerful intellectual influence in England”—but mostly overlooked in ours. Which is the usual treatment posterity gives to intellectuals, and usually for the best. But as to Dawson, it’s a shame. At this troubled juncture in American history, he is worth recalling. His lifelong subject was the study of religion and culture. And his lifelong thesis was this: Every great culture in the history of mankind has depended on “a common moral order and a common religious ideal.”
America’s ideal has been the religion of the Bible, Christianity in particular. That is changing now, obviously, and not for the better. As the left works to impose an arid secularism, American culture increasingly has no memory of the religious tradition that made it and, without that tradition, no moral order to bind us together.
Care to see the consequences? Look around. Our politics are bitter. Our culture wars are intractable. We can no longer agree even on the definition of “man” and “woman.” Fewer Americans bother to marry or raise children; ever fewer regard it as worth their time. Those who do take vows and start families must contend with an economy that is, to put it mildly, less than hospitable to hearth and home.