Quote of the Week: Dinesh D’Souza, “What’s So Great About Christianity?”

Consider the case of Western art. Have you been to the Sistine Chapel? Seen Michelangelo’s Pietà? Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper? Perhaps you are familiar with Rembrandt’s Christ at Emmaus or his Simeon in the Temple. In Venice you can see the spectacular murals of Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto. What would Western music be without Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and the soaring composition of Johann Sebastian Bach? If you haven’t, set foot in one of the great Gothic Cathedrals and see what those anonymous builders did with stone and glass. Is Western literature even conceivable without Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare? My point is not only that all these great artists were Christian. Rather, it is that their great works would not have been produced without Christianity. Would they have produced other great works? We don’t know. What we do know, is that their Christianity gives their genius its distinctive expression. Nowhere has human aspiration reached so high or more deeply touched the heart and spirit than in the works of Christian art, architecture, literature, and music.

Even artists who rejected Christianity produced work that was unmistakably shaped by Christian themes. Goethe was a kind of pantheist who viewed God as identical with nature, yet his Faust is a profound allegory derived from Christian themes of suffering, transformation, and redemption. Our greatest skeptics and atheists – such as Voltaire and Nietzsche – are inconceivable without Christianity (Voltaire was educated by Jesuits; Nietzsche’s father was a pastor and the title of his autobiography, Ecce Homo, is a reference to what Pilate said to Christ: ‘behold the man.’)

▪ Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity (Regnery, 2007) extract from page 44.

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