This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Athanasius contra mundum

One of my difficulties throughout has been to steer away from the tone of an Athanasius contra mundum. To question the worth of one’s own civilization is a vocation that calls for a certain temperament, and this temperament very easily starts to display a lack of appreciation for beauty and a proper love for man and the created order. What is ‘given’ is never good enough, and so on, and the virtue of gratitude withers in the face of a world that is far too easy to criticize. Not to mention the fact that any person who has been placed in this world at this particular time also possesses the right to exist in this particular ambience and to make some kind of peace with it. Because the hermit or prophet cannot find this peace does not mean that they are permitted to deny it to others, but sadly it is my impulse to do so—to grab everyone I see by the shoulders and ask ‘how can you be so satisfied?’ This is not healthy, and ought to be avoided at all costs. I say this now as a personal admission, but also because the reader might share my temperament, and they too ought to watch out for what comes with it. A chronic lack of appreciation for an imperfect humanity, simply on the grounds that it is not perfect, is a habit which, left unchecked, not only destroys empathy and gratitude but also makes needless enemies. For example, in Rene Guenon, to whom I myself owe a great deal, these qualities resulted in a tendency toward condescension and tautology when it came to certain points of doctrine. Some would say he even displayed a form of paranoia, and this is certainly not helpful for students or for opponents. Criticism ought to be carefully counterbalanced with the presentation of a positive doctrine whenever analysis of worldly disorder can be set aside.

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