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BOOK REVIEWS 369 needed for coordination and dialogue" (155). Oser then moves to his close, noting that Christian humanism's charge is to "defend the radical middle, where genuine tolerance may be found" (159). Orthodoxy exposes the "hypocrisy and intolerance" of anti-Christian elitism, while revealing the "Christian elite" as also hypocritical and intolerant. (May one assume the "religious right" is meant here?) Intolerance in the previous chapter is defined as "the success of humanitarianism over common sense" (146), a nice formula for political correctness. Oser sometimes presents ideas he finds ofinterest without sufficient illustration, and the rush of ongoing concepts can at times be tough going. But despite this sort of frustration, Oser's book is eminently recommendable, in part because it offers mapy directions to ponder. The book's weakness is a function of its overall strength. Oser's winning closing comment evokes the general tone ofhis admirable conviction: "If I don't blush at the charge of being practical when I should be religious, it is because I cannot be practical at all without being religious" (165). Larry Brunner Hardin-Simmons University Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson. By Bradley J. Birzer. Front Royal: Christendom Press, 2007. ISBN 0-931888-86-7. Pp. xvi + 316. $30.00. Bradley J. Birzer's Sanctifying the World may currently be the best single volume on Catholic historian Christopher Dawson's life and worldview. It combines the biographical insight of Christina Scott's A Historian and His World (Sheed and Ward, 1984) with the critical and intellectual context offered by studies such as John J. Mulloy's Christianity and the Challenge of History (Christendom Press, 1995), the Wethersfield Institute's Christianity and Western Civilization: Christopher Dawson's Insight (Ignatius Press, 1995), and Adam Schwartz's chapter on Dawson in his The Third Spring (Catholic University of America Press, 2005). Because of Dawson's almost debilitating shyness and because for most of his career he wrote as an independent scholar, it has been tempting for some to treat Dawson as if he avoided intellectual and cultural conflict. Birzer takes pains to show that this was hardly the case. In particular, Birzer advances the available scholarship on Dawson by placing the historian and critic in two broad fields of disagreement: 1) the Catholic neo-Augustinian reaction to the more prevalent Catholic neo- Thomism, a reaction typically associated with the French ressourcement of Maurice Blondel, Henri de Lubac, and Charles Peguy, and 2) conservative social criticism opposed to the Bloomsbury Group with its radical sexual experimentation, as well as to a liberalism that assumed the purity of mass capitalism and ofthe planed society. As to the latter, Birzer refutes with sufficient evidence the tired charge that Dawson was a fascist. 370 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE Birzer organizes his volume around seven periods of Dawson's life, paying particular attention to the literary and ideological efforts in which Dawson took part: LePlay House and the "Order men:' J.H. Oldham's Christian intellectual circle "The Moot:' Catholic publisher Sheed and Ward, The Dublin Review, the Sword of the Spirit ecumenical movement, the 1947and 1948Gifford Lectures, and Dawson's late career at Harvard University. Interspersed with these periods, Birzer offers two chapter-length "interludes" that focus in more detail on Dawson's Augustinianism and on his view of the West and Christianity. The book concludes with reflection on Dawson's enduring influence. Birzer shows that Dawson was a Christian of his times. He not only places Dawson's work within the twentieth-century European and American Catholic Renaissance, he also draws attention to Dawson's interaction with its AngloCatholic cousin, and as such, inadvertently shows how intertwined the various movements were. Birzer is careful to mention the historian's involvement with or influence on such literary and intellectual figures as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Ronald Knox, Eric Gill, David Jones, Jacques Maritain, T. S. Eliot, Dom Bede Griffiths, Nicholas Berdyaev, Thomas Merton, Allen Tate, and Russell Kirk. He also points out the parallels between Dawson's work and that of theologians Romano Guardini and Hans Urs von Balthasar, as well...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 369-371
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-14
Open Access
No
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