A Grief ObservedA Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kind of interesting. Goodreads is one of those things: literate persons have to object to the name. A read? Calling a book a read is the kind of thing trendy and semi-literate types do (redundant of me, but satisfying). It reminds me of a teacher I had who thought it was cool to call a book a ‘piece.’ Still, the GR helps you keep track, and that can be handy. I’d never be able to figure out that little picture, and it doesn’t link to Amazon, which I like.

This is what is handy for the blog:

The Formation of ChristendomThe Formation of Christendom by Christopher Henry Dawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here’s the thing about Dawson: he’s not only read everything about the period he’s talking about, he has digested it. The result is an understanding of what the people and movements mean that he’s dealing with unsurpassed. He’s dealing with 1500 years of Christian history.

Dawson is also a son of the Catholic church and takes her point of view: universality is more important in a church than holiness. As a result he looks at things on one side of that vision as rigorist and sectarian, and on the other side as dissipated and humanitarian (too taken up with merely human concerns, no more). But you have to understand the historian to understand his history with any of them. And once you do, you can figure out how to take what he says.

Dawson is setting forth a Catholic vision, complete with a section of blame for the Eastern Church. It reminds me, because of that, of Vladimir Lossky’s The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, which does something similar to what Dawson does, only from a different perspective. Both are stimulating books.

Reading Dawson requires a lot of attention, but he rewards attention. I always know when I’m reading Dawson I’ll come away with useful insights and a better grasp of the meaning of this or that period of history. I look forward to his clear and steadfast progress through a chapter of explanation. He can be relied on to make a really good point and expand your understanding of what happened, and why.

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