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Re: (TFT) Daily Life...

Okay, thats all fine and well.

I really only had issues with 2 points:

1) Rome- It doesn't matter that the Byzantines were Roman. Like the church during the time that the Byzantine empire existed, it mostly just maintained the status that had been created by the Romans before Christianity. Both societies (western Europe and Byzantine) made some advancement as well, but I wouldn't say it was a time of great growth compared to under the Roman Empire before they adopted christianity (essentially, the creation of catholicism).

2) As long as that view is focused on Europe, its true. We can't ever know, of course, what would have happened had the Church never existed (that is, a general adopting of Christianity across Europe under Catholicism, or, in alternate history, anything similar). Perhaps some barbarians would have advanced... they've done it before. But they just as well could've failed to and the world would look rather different. Looking at the world as a whole, plenty of people have avoided being barbarians without the Church. So thats where the idea that the Church is the reason we're not immoral (at least amoral) barbarians kinda falls down, IMO.

Of course, that is probably influenced by the fact that I'm not really descended from any Catholics or even Christian Europeans, so of course my view would be that morality doesn't universally stem from Christianity. The tech side has more to do with the idea that in an alternate reality, perhaps things would've gone differently... someone else won, for example, than the Europeans.... or they won for other reasons.... and the world wouldn't ALL be a bunch of barbarians- it hasn't been since Sumeria.
On Oct 3, 2011, at 4:15 PM, gem6868 wrote:

I don't have time to teach a class on history of "the church". But I'll give you a couple of things to think about, so you can see the difference between simplified secondary texts (for common consumption or intro classes) and the sort of detailed analysis, investigation and conclusions that historians might either share amongst themselves or in very detailed primary research books and their introductions / explanations.

First, consider your gross simplification regarding your use of the term "The Church". What do you even mean by that? What era? Which pope or series of papacies and simultaneous popery? Does it encompass the Coptic and Eastern Orthodox "Churches"? How about the so-called "Celtic churches" of Ireland and the British Isles? Are you saying that the church is a single entity? What about the Reformation? How many "churches" are there then? What about the Hussites? Are they church or not-church?

Second, same issue RE: the term you use "Rome". Rome didn't "fall", altho the City of Rome was sacked numerous times. For you, is "Rome" the city? The imperial dynasty? The mystique of Empire or its ideas / ideals? The Byzantines regarded themselves, and WERE, the Roman empire - it was relocated to Byzantium for very good logistical and political reasons. They were highly civilized and advanced in ways that the so-called Islamic world could only dream about, which was why they kept attacking the Eastern Roman Empire until they took Constantinople (now Istanbul) during the high middle ages.

After the decline of Roman organization, political and military power in Western Europe, the church preserved everything from literacy and art to architecture and engineering. There are numerous pop books on fun ideas like "the Irish saved Western Civilization" or whatever. But it wasn't the "Irish" that did it, it was really the dedicated and oft-slaughtered monks who did. If your aquaduct broke around 500AD, you weren't going to be putting in a letter to Rome to get an engineer. You got your clerk - who was a priest (cleric, see?) to write a letter for you (you were illiterate) to the local bishop, and hopefully the bishop could scrounge someone up for you.

I've no idea what you're ethnic background is. However, it's highly likely that you're mostly geneologically descended from Germanic barbarians, and other equally ferocious and uncivilized fellows (they had a talent for spreading their genes...). The civilization that came to flourish and become "Western Culture" was a mixture of legacy preserved at great effort and peril by "the church(es) and their clergy / clerics through 2000 years of war, plague and other horrors (I could argue that it continued up until 1950), and progress by people who were educated and trained by clergy. Even the subtleties of skillful farming were centered in monasteries and "the church". German barbarians were herders, not farmers, generally.

Sure, we all like to poke fun and find fault with "the institution" (any institution). But if you read the biographies of most great figures in Western Civilization, you'll find that they were mostly educated by "the church". This continued through my grandfather's generation until the governments began public education. Still, today in most European countries, the prestigious schools are still notionally religious. Actually, that is true in Philadelphia, largely, where I live today.

So I present my original thought - if it wasn't for "the church", you'd be running around in skins, poking people with sharp objects, humping sheep and roasting your enemies in cages - live. Be thankful.

If I really wanted to get your sheep, I'd remind you that you'd have no sense of morality whatsoever if it wasn't for "the church" and it's Judeo-Christian beliefs. But most people dislike being reminded that they not only have NO original morale thoughts, but that such thinking is beyond them the same way that most Astronomy and Physics is beyond them. But I'm too kind.

Be grateful for the legacy we've inherited. We could all be living in Rwanda or similar conditions, in which case we'd probably be dead - in a horrible way. it wasn't easy to make some parts of the world reasonably safe and prosperous, but "the church" has played a key role in it for 2000 years, and continues to do so today.

-----Original Message----- From: Joey Beutel
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 3:40 PM
To: tft@brainiac.com
Subject: Re: (TFT) Daily Life...

I've got to say, if you actually have an argument regarding how the
Catholic Church is the cause of civilization (in a direct and active
way, especially), I'd love to hear it.

Now, you do have a degree in history, so I know that things like
"sunday school history" or "3rd grade eurocentrism" are not the basis
of your argument. Please enlighten me, and I actually mean that (not
in the obnoxious internet sorta way people will use it).

I am not an expert on the history of the catholic church or even any
sort of history, but I've done my fair share of reading (including
wikipedia) on the subject, and having been in the 3rd grade, I can
guarantee that the common argument seemed to be much more pro-church
than books like Constantine's Sword, A Distant Mirror, or an AP Euro
text book in high school. Then again, the story of Galileo and similar
have probably been with me for a bit longer than all that, and
certainly influences my view, as it should.

However, I defer to the expert-- you-- to explain. The other experts
have pushed me the opposite direction.
On Oct 3, 2011, at 3:23 PM, gem6868 wrote:

90% of the population doesn't know the difference between such hard
and soft history, so they keep repeating what they learned in 3rd
grade (or much much worse - saw in movies...especially Oliver Stone
films), which was often erroneous, is now dated, or was so
simplified that it holds no real value. Just the other day I heard
someone quote the old saw that the Colonists won the American
Revolution by hiding behind bushes while stupid redcoats marched in
straight lines, as though the entire war was Lexington / Concord.
The same sort of "everyone knows it" history is repeated about
everything from the Fall of Rome, the role of the Catholic Church,
the Crusades, to WWII and Vietnam

Personally, I don't mind that people hold fashionable, erroneous or
simplistic ideas - we can't all be experts at everything.  But if
you know you're not an expert or highly trained / experienced in a
field, then at least defer to those who do while you go look it up
yourself.  Even a quick trip to Wiki isn't entirely wasted, I've
found, if you're in a hurry - you just can't take it as gospel.
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