The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis

December 11, 2018 - Comment

By early 1943, it had become increasingly clear that the Allies would win the Second World War. Around the same time, it also became increasingly clear to many Christian intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic that the soon-to-be-victorious nations were not culturally or morally prepared for their success. A war won by technological superiority

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By early 1943, it had become increasingly clear that the Allies would win the Second World War. Around the same time, it also became increasingly clear to many Christian intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic that the soon-to-be-victorious nations were not culturally or morally prepared for their success. A war won by technological superiority merely laid the groundwork for a post-war society governed by technocrats. These Christian intellectuals-Jacques Maritain, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, and Simone Weil, among others-sought both to articulate a sober and reflective critique of their own culture and to outline a plan for the moral and spiritual regeneration of their countries in the post-war world.

In this book, Alan Jacobs explores the poems, novels, essays, reviews, and lectures of these five central figures, in which they presented, with great imaginative energy and force, pictures of the very different paths now set before the Western democracies. Working mostly separately and in ignorance of one another’s ideas, the five developed a strikingly consistent argument that the only means by which democratic societies could be prepared for their world-wide economic and political dominance was through a renewal of education that was grounded in a Christian understanding of the power and limitations of human beings. The Year of Our Lord 1943 is the first book to weave together the ideas of these five intellectuals and shows why, in a time of unprecedented total war, they all thought it vital to restore Christianity to a leading role in the renewal of the Western democracies.

Comments

Anonymous says:

Insightful argument you won’t find elsewhere Alan Jacobs defies the usual categories in theological/cultural writing. I love how he is not afraid to stake out positions that defy conventional liberal/conservative, catholic/evangelical, Republican/Democrat, literary/theological, etc. Many thoughtful people are starting to realize that “Skynet” is much closer to being a reality than we had thought and that the technocratic semi-totalitarian society that we’ve created since WWII ended is close to being irreversible with dire consequences for…

Anonymous says:

I Feel Like I’ve Just Eaten A Great Meal A very satisfying slow and deep read. I knew virtually nothing of Auden, Weil and Maritain before reading Jacobs book but I walk away with reverence for their minds and spirits and efforts not to mention Lewis and Eliot. I’m find myself most intrigued by Weil.I’ve always believed we lost something truly significant in WWII despite the much celebrated military victories and huge postwar economic boom. This book now gives more substance and meat to my sense and additional clarity…

Anonymous says:

Interesting premise with input from wise observers When Hitler appeared on the scene, the natural tendency was to condemn him. The author is asking us to examine whether our society is so pure that we can claim the moral high ground. That gets even more difficult as the war continues into 1943. What can the universities do to help our society reclaim its moral roots and be in a position to condemn the evil forces in the world? There are no easy answers.

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