This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

“You didn’t build that.”

Perhaps it is the attitude of the “meritocracy” which leads to the perceived opposition between charity and justice. It is imagined that nothing is due in justice to anyone who did not “earn” whatever is given to them, and it is suggested that whatever I legally possess is mine purely and simply because I earned it, and it is therefore unjust to suggest that I part from it. But here Scripture gives a warning:

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…[1]

In an absolute sense, all that we have is a gift from God. In a more immediate sense, all that we have is a product of the society in which we live, and in which we’ve been able to participate, live, learn, labor, and reap fruit. No man is an island, or so the saying goes.

While it is legitimate to lay claim to ownership, and to take credit for the labor one has contributed, it is purely illusory to imagine that we produced everything we have in a vacuum and we owe it to nothing else but our own individual merits. Precisely the same actions, aptitudes, and ideas that can earn a man a fortune in a developed nation, for example, would have very different results in the third world, so preponderant is the role of providence in our accomplishments. St. Ambrose speaks to this:

‘My own’, you say? What is your own? When you came from your mother’s womb, what wealth did you bring with you? That which is taken by you, beyond what suffices you, is taken by violence. Is it that God is unjust in not distributing the means of life to us equally, so that you should have in abundance while others are in want? Or is it not rather that He wished to confer upon you marks of His kindness, while He crowned your fellow man with the virtue of patience? You, then, who have received the gift of God, think you that you commit no injustice by keeping to yourself alone what would be the means of life to many? It is the bread of the hungry you cling to, it is the clothing of the naked you lock up; the money you bury is the redemption of the poor.[2]

[1] Deut 8:10-18.

[2] Will Durant, The Age of Faith (New York, 1950), p. 630.

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