Book talk: John Woodhouse and 'Dominion: the making of the Western mind'
Something different this week—the first in what I hope will be an occasional series of ‘book talks’ on The Payneful Truth.
The idea is pretty simple: I ring up a good friend and ask them what book they’ve enjoyed recently and would like to talk about; I then read the book too, and we have a conversation.
I hope every book and conversation is as stimulating and enjoyable as this first one, a chat with former Moore College Principal John Woodhouse about Tom Holland’s 2019 book, Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind.
Holland seeks to demonstrate that the attitudes and values of our modern Western society are not ‘self-evident’ (as the American Declaration of Independence says), but are profoundly Christian in their shape and origin. No other civilization has ever thought that every human person has certain rights that attach to them simply by virtue of being human, that it is more noble to suffer than to inflict suffering, that the rich and powerful have a moral obligation not to oppress the weak and poor, that all people should be treated equally, and so on. All of these ideas are Christian in origin; or to put it another way—the only civilizations in world history ever to have adopted these ideas are those that have been profoundly touched by Christianity. From Marxism, to the French Revolution, to the rise of science, secularism and gay rights—all of these movements, even those that are explicitly non-Christian, owe the foundations of their philosophy to Christianity.
John and I talk about some of the key aspects of Holland’s thesis, and how it helps us to understand and respond to the challenges of our present moment.
I hope you enjoy it.
I did begin to transcribe our conversation for those of you who prefer to read rather than listen. But looking through the first draft of the first section, it was very obvious that this was one of those occasions when the verbal doesn’t translate very well to the written!
Just click the play button (above) to listen via the Payneful Truth website; there is also a little link just under the media player to listen in your favour podcast app.