Reflections on the rise of paganism in today's world
by English historian Christopher Dawson who foresaw it in the last century
The Catholic Church and the Pagan State
Presented by Paul Stenhouse, MSC
IN THE 1930s English Catholic historian Christopher Dawson [1889-1970] described the world of his day on the eve of World War II. His analysis of what had led it to that point, his view of its flaws and strengths, and where the Catholic Church stood in relation to it, inspired what follows. Almost all the words and insights are his. The timelessness of his logic will not be lost on Annals readers.
THE CATHOLIC FAITH obliges us to protest against any social system that claims the whole of man and sets itself up as the final end of human activity. Christianity asserts that man's essential nature transcends all political and economic forms. His true home, his true destiny, is elsewhere than on this earth.
Our Lord drew this distinction between the two worlds, the two kingdoms, the two orders of reality in his famous reply to some Pharisees and Herodians when they asked him:
'Master, you are an honest man, we know; you teach in all honesty the way of life that God requires, truckling to no man, whoever he may be. Give us your ruling on this: are we, or are we not permitted to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor?' Jesus was aware of their malicious intention and said to them, 'You hypocrites! Why are you trying to catch me out? Show me the money in which the tax is paid.' They handed him a silver piece. Jesus asked, 'Whose head is this; and whose inscription?' 'Caesar's,' they replied. He said to them: 'Then pay Caesar what is due to Caesar, and pay God what is due to God'. This answer took them by surprise, and they went away and left him alone.