Derek Turner, in “The New White Moors” (Correspondence, September), is right to warn of the advance of Islam and the decline of the West.  He would, however, benefit from reading Christopher Dawson’s The Making of Europe.

The West is dying because it has lost faith in itself, which is inexorably linked to Christianity.  Mr. Turner cites a lack of “historical consciousness” as the underlying cause of the Muslim advance and of our decline.  Dawson points out that the very idea of history stems from Christianity.  In fact, it is the West that has preserved other civilizations’ histories.

All of this has to do with the Incarnation.  Christ is real!  He was born into the world!  The world is redeemed!  Islam and other world religions do not believe that the world is redeemed or that Creation is good.  They chant and meditate to get out of a polluted world.  This is why they do not treasure history or believe in a linear understanding of life and why science grew in the West.

Mr. Turner is right to point out that the West is ignorant of its own history, but this all stems from a lack of faith.

        —Patrick Walsh
Quincy, MA

Mr. Turner Replies:

I am grateful to Mr. Walsh for reminding me of Christopher Dawson’s famous 1932 book—which I must admit shamefacedly I have never read.  Now that it has been drawn to my attention so publicly, I shall certainly get round to reading it at last!  I agree that Western scholarship cannot be disengaged from the Christian tradition—although we should remember that there have been Christian obscurantists and world-haters, too.

Mr. Walsh suggests that any possible revival of the Western ethos is likely to be at least partly driven by a Christian revival of some kind.  This is probably true.  But it raises a rather large question: How exactly will this come about?  I know that it is different in America, but in most of Europe today, only a very small minority of people are observant Christians.  Their Christianity is a cultural artifact rather than a living Faith—and faith, once lost, cannot easily be regained.  Mainstream Catholicism and the major Protestant groupings are alike in serious decline—although what growth does take place occurs within the more traditionalist Catholic or fundamentalist Protestant groups.  A recent survey in the United Kingdom said that far more people here believe in horoscopes than in the Gospels—a telling illustration of Chesterton’s maxim that those who stop believing in God don’t believe in nothing—they believe in anything!  Eastern Orthodoxy is in better shape but will also probably go into decline as the material standard of living improves across Eastern Europe.  Religion always seems to go into decline in times of plenty.  (If it is any comfort, this will no doubt also happen to Islam.)  Of course, most Westerners remain Christians just below the surface, and this latent religious feeling could theoretically be reignited by some explosive book, or charismatic preacher, or cataclysmic event.  For the moment, however, appeals to kill or die in the Name of Christ are likely to be greeted with derision or—even worse—indifference.  As a motivating force for a counter-jihad, Christianity is likely to be just one of a set of impulses—the others being honest liberalism (cf. Oriana Fallaci), traditionalist conservatism, and ethnic nationalism, all no doubt manipulated by shrewd politicians for their (but possibly also our) advantage.