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This article is taken from PN Review 2, Volume 4 Number 2, January - March 1978.

Intimations of the Eternal C.H. Sisson

IT IS perhaps illusory to look back on a Golden Age when people did not think so much, but certainly there was a time when they did not think so much about Society-that great threadbare garment which covers all our nakednesses-and, above all, when they did not imagine that their thinking about it could do society so much good. The belief in socially beneficent thought is one of the marks of modern times, which one may take to have begun with the talkative theoretical preliminaries to the French Revolution. The Church tends to collect beliefs, as well as to perform its historical task of expounding afresh the few that are essential to it, and it has certainly collected this one. If it is so beneficial to the world to emit thoughts about the organization of society, a fortiori, it might be argued (by Christians) it must be pre-eminently so to emit such thoughts with a dash of Christianity about them.

It must be said that this is far from being the view of the world at large. Even in England, which has not only all those elements of opinion which owe their origin to the former prevalence of Christian beliefs and practices, but some vestiges of that religion in the institutions of the state, Christianity is dogmatically excluded from practical politics. The old maxim that 'Christianity is part of the law of England', is a laugh. Any minister would be highly embarrassed if it could be shown ...

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