Magazine December 27, 2021, Issue

The Difference Christianity Made

Rose window in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres (Louise Heusinkveld/Getty images)
Our world would be unthinkable without the Bible and its interpreters

How did Christianity shape the civilization of the West? Let me count (some of) the ways, with an assist at several points from British intellectual historian Larry Siedentop.

The story of Jesus had an immense impact in forming “the West.” Before Jesus, the family, the primary unit of social and personal identity, was the locus of immortality: One “lived on” in one’s family. In Jesus, crucified and raised from the dead, the individual became the locus of immortality. That gave new meaning to “the individual,” who was now invested with a previously unimaginable dignity.

Saint Paul drew out some of the implications

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George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. His 27th book, The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission, has just been published by Ignatius Press.

In This Issue

A Defense of the West

Books, Arts & Manners

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The Week

The Week

China’s oppression of Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Hong Kongers, on top of its oppression of the mass of its people, makes it unfit to host the Olympic Games.

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