Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Finished chapter one


I also finished chapter one (for newbies, we are reading MacCulloch's The Reformation , as a break from homework and reorganizing genealogy materialis from the move. The genealogical materials are not unrelated to your post on Chapter One and the time MacCulloch spends discussing the continual persecution of Jews in Europe; essentially, one set of my ancestors could theoretically have persecuted the other set. One side of my family was Jewish until the 40s, and was forced to flee Europe during after the Anschluss of Austria, and a greatgrandparent perished in the camp at Theresienstadt. So I can't read any of these incidents without an emotional reaction. Because of the turmoil in Europe, I can only trace my ancestors on those lines back only so far.

I too was very interested in the discussion of the various orders and how they related (or more often, didn't relate) to each other. But I was also fascinated with his discussion of the lay gilds (sometimes called confraternities). These often disappeared in Protestant countries. His point--don't always believe that the Reformation was about power to the laity. It was often about groups of clergy trying to gain power and prestige over the other.

The major point the first chapter made me think of was "the more things change. . ." This book has driven home that trends and fads have been around Christianity since the beginning, some appealing to the popular imagination more than others (shrines, practices, types of prayer). It also occured to me that so much of what we think of as "tradition" was somebody's "innovation" somewhere down the line. I come away from his discussion of late medievalism thinking that the church has always been linked, for better or worse, with a certain consumer mentality. It might especially be flourishing in our country now, but it's not unique. Also, that the Reformation was as much, if not more, about temporal power struggles as about theology (again, I think this has contemporary parallels).

Can you believe how much information is packed into each paragraph? I had to laugh at the idea of a two paragraph summation of Aquinas' theology. . .

On to Chapter Two (and moving more boxes. . .)


Please feel free to join the discussion, even if you don't feel like dipping into an 800 page book!


Post a Comment

<< Home