Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Can the Descent of Modern Society Reverse?

To act as though man made history by his own purposes and decisions is a kind of spiritual blindness which bears within it its own downfall.

[xxxix] And it is precisely this spiritual blindness which is characteristic of modern civilization, a kind of hubris which leads to the frustration of social idealism and society’s turning away from those principles it professes to be following, in order to promote their opposite. Has there ever been a society which set a higher store on the ideals of humanitarianism than our own, and has there ever been one which, at the same time, allowed for the killing off of such countless millions of unborn infants? And has there ever been a culture which so repeatedly emphasized its concerns for the rights of man, and at the same time meekly acquiesced in the obliteration of those rights by totalitarian regimes in all parts of the world?

Written thirty-five years ago, in the midst of World War II, the following judgment of Christopher Dawson has a direct relationship to the condition in which the whole of the modern world finds itself today:
But this is just the truth which the modern world has denied. It has put its trust in the “arm of flesh”; it has believed the word of man rather than the Word of God. It has reversed the whole hierarchy of spiritual values so that our civilization has been turned backwards and upside down, with its face toward darkness and nonentity and its back to the sun of truth and the source of being. For a short time—whether we reckon it in decades or centuries is of small importance—it remained precariously skating on the thin ice of rationalism and secular humanism. Now the ice has broken and we are being carried down the flood, though we may delude ourselves that the forces that have been released are of our own creation and serve our will to power. 
Is it possible to reverse this process? No human power can stop this progress to the abyss. It can only come about by a profound movement of change or conversion which brings the human spirit once more into vital relation with the spirit of God. (The Judgment of the Nations [London: Sheed and Ward, 1942], 157)

Source: John J. Mulloy, “Preface to the 1978 Edition”, in Dynamics of World History, ed. John J. Mulloy (Washington, DE: ISI Books, 2002), xxxviii–xxxix.

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