Friends Newsletter 2004
"We are only just beginning to understand how intimately and profoundly the vitality of a society is bound up with its religion. It is the religious impulse which supplies the cohesive force which unifies a society and a culture. The great civilizations of the world do not produce the great religions as a kind of cultural by-product; in a very real sense the great religions are the foundations on which the great civilizations rest. A society which has lost its religion becomes sooner or later a society which has lost its culture." Christopher Dawson, Progress and Religion
Registered Charity Number 801608
G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture (UK)
This newsletter is being sent mainly to UK and European readers of our journals and to friends of the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture in Oxford, including Trustees and other close associates. The intention is to outline a vision of what our small organization hopes to achieve in the next few years, with your help, and to invite you to participate in forthcoming events.
Ideas have consequences. They do not stay in the minds of intellectuals, but spread throughout every level of society and profoundly shape its future. Through our conferences and publications we aim to make important ideas accessible to a wider audience. What are those ideas? Love as the universal source of meaning. The human person, created in the image of God and in relationship to others. Family, the womb of society, in need of constant protection and support. Justice, an uncompromising conformity to truth. Freedom: not just the freedom of a consumer to choose between multiple options, but the power to become what we were born to be.
The Institute is founded in response to the fragmentation and alienation prevalent in a society increasingly given over to production and consumption. It aims to counter the "culture of death" at its very root, by questioning the assumptions which shape it from within; questioning them eloquently, imaginatively and persuasively, in the tradition and spirit of G.K. Chesterton. Our programmes appeal to the imagination as well as the intellect, being designed to show the beauty as well as the truth and goodness of religion especially but not uniquely the Christian religion. They are intended to rekindle a sense of the sacred, a respect for tradition and the natural world, and an ultimate preparedness to defend the freedom and dignity of all human beings.
What does the Institute do?
This means, of course, that our long-term goal is educational. The Institute wants to contribute to a rethinking of education at every level, and will offer support where it can to those who are struggling to bring up their children in a Christian worldview. We also aim to help scholars in diverse fields to see beyond the limits of their own discipline.
The Institutes main journals are The Chesterton Review (now in its 30th year of publication) and Second Spring (in its third), the latter a growing cultural journal described by Tom Howard as "journalism at its highest level" and by Dr Kathleen Raine as "a sign of the turning of the tide of dense materialism filled with a sense of beauty and kindness". If you have not yet seen it, we would happily send you a sample copy. Second Spring also has an online apostolate.
In the UK this summer our major event has been an international conference in Oxford called Landscapes with Angels, which is about fantasy literature and the spiritual role of the imagination. This is hoped will lead to the creation of a summer school entitled "Mythos and Logos".
Our major research project, one that will bear fruit in further conferences and publications over the next few years, is called the Sane Economy. At a time when the major political parties are desperately floundering for ideas, there could be no better time to explore the possibility of an alternative economics informed by Catholic social teaching. We are working to build links with the business community and entrepreneurs. (Again, our research in this and other fields is reflected on the Second Spring web site.)
The Institutes office in Oxford includes a unique collection of books, papers and memorabilia called The Chesterton Library, built up over many years by Mr Aidan Mackey. In the next few years we hope to make this remarkable resource more accessible to students and scholars around the world. One of our priorities, therefore, is to find the resources to establish a fully-fledged Study Centre where researchers could be housed and courses could be offered.
Stratford Caldecott, Director
If you wish to receive details of coming events organized by the Institute, and do not have regular access to the web site where these are described, please tear off and return the bottom of this page to The Chesterton Institute, 6a King Street, Oxford OX2 6DF, or email the Director at [email protected].
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