The news these days of involvement in yet another American war has had a sobering effect on me.
Notwithstanding the avowed end, war always tends to the deterioration of cultural standards. As Christopher Dawson acknowledged, it cannot be otherwise, "when all the power and resources of the modern state are organized for human destruction." He noted, the temptation to "howl with the wolves" is so overwhelmingly strong in war, since the only thing that will curb the focus of disorder is "mastering them [the enemy] by a violent effort of disciplined will." War, as a state of organized violence, is by its very nature opposed to the ideals of the moral virtues in a civilized culture. While it is true that there are things worse than war, and however necessary it may be in certain limited circumstances, it is nevertheless a great evil as a destructive element in society.
These are ideas underscored by Dawson in his brilliant The Judgment of the Nations, written in 1942. If he is right, America need not be concerned these days only with strained resources and the loss of lives. She should also be concerned with further thinning her cultural fabric, and further loosening her moral restraints.
Dawson’s great erudition, his command of history, and his profound understanding of human nature are evident in The Judgment of the Nations--an attempt to “bring civilization “back to the right road” by cultivating the spiritual foundations of society at an individual level. An omnivorous reader and gifted historian, after becoming acquainted with the work of Ernest Troeltsch in the early 20th century, Dawson thereafter devoted himself entirely to the study of the relationship between religion and culture. A prolific author, he wrote numerous works, when taken together, are an attempt at nothing less than a world history. Like no other before or since, he convincingly argues that only a return to the traditions of historic Christianity will save civilization, for culture, having lost its spiritual roots, is dying.