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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book IX – Chapters 7 – 13

Clergymen bow and touch relics of Lebanese St. Rafqa as they are displayed for visitors on Nov. 6, 2014, at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Easton.

 

Today, we concluded the autobiographical portion of Augustine’s Confessions.  Most colleges courses covering this book would normally stop here, but we will continue with the rest of the books.

It is interesting, as one person put it, that when he went seminary in his late 30’s, he was surrounded by young 20-year olds straight out of college.  When it came to reading Augustine’s Confessions, many of the young people found it a bit boring and less applicable; however, the handful of older people in the class felt a deeper connection while reading the book because they went through the same struggles, experiences, and questions as Augustine had but afraid to share them with others.  So I guess when you re-read Confessions later on in your life, the deeper the connection you feel with Augustine.

We discussed whether or not traditional “biblical” gender roles still apply till this day, as well as how Protestants uphold the doctrine of Sola Scriptura  and some problems it has in today’s context; the use and abuse of relics in the Church in history; Augustine’s Neoplatonic view of the afterlife after his vision or epiphany with his mother Monica; and Mike (not written here) talked about whether or not salvation was conditional or unconditional – the Bible seems ambivalent in some respects with the issue.

Our essays can be found here.

 

 

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book IX: Chapters 1 – 6

 

Here are our essays for the first half of Book IX of the Confessions.

We covered the role emotions play to religious and spiritual practices; how conversion changes our view of others and the world around us; the use and place of the Bible in a believer’s life; and whether or not non-believers will be rewarded for good works in the afterlife.

 

 

UPDATE: “Confessions” Book VIII – Chapters 1 – 6

 

How pagan are modern-day church services today?  Have church services been pagan all along?

 

Here are our essays on Book VIII – Chapters 1 – 6 of Augustine’s Confessions.

We discussed the implications of delayed gratification, the pagan elements and origins of the Catholic Mass and Protestant services, the life of Anthony the Great and whether or not Christ calls us to a life of asceticism.

 

 

Was God Pro-Choice?

 

 

Every election year, many Christians (Evangelical and Catholic) gather together to make the issue of abortion a major topic in politics.  They cite the sanctity of life all together and tell how abortion is murder of the unborn.  Many also claim that abortion is impermissible on any grounds because of the Bible, even in cases of rape, incest, or even if a woman’s life is in jeopardy due to complications in a pregnancy.

 

OK, maybe God being “pro-choice”as the title states might be a bit of an anachronism, but it seems rather clear that in some instances he does sanction abortion or at the very least, permit ways to allow for a woman to have a miscarriage if she’s pregnant due to adultery.

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UPDATE: Chapter 25: Culture Wars (1960 – Present) – Part II: Doctrine of Hell in 20th century and the Orthodox Church after the Soviet Union

Russian church

Russian Orthodox Church has enjoyed a resurgence since the end of atheist Soviet Communist rule in 1991. (Reuters)

This will be our next to last submissions on MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years: two essays on the relevancy of the doctrine of hell in churches today and how the Orthodox Church has changed after the collapse of communism in Russia after 1991.

In our last entry for this series, coming next month, we will reflect on how a knowledge of Church history has impacted our understanding of the Christian faith.

UPDATE: Chapter 24: Not Peace but a Sword (1913-60) – Part I – Mussolini, the Vatican State, and the Armenian Genocide

 

Lateran Treaty

The Pope was gifted the Vatican statehood by dictator Benito Mussolini in the Lateran Treaty of 1929. Here Cardinal Gaspari (representing Pope Pius XI) and Mussolini sign the treaty.

 

 

Last Tuesday we completed and went over the first half of Chapter 24.

 

In this first half of this chapter, we’re covering the groundwork of our modern age into the 20th and 21st centuries.  Here we saw the decline of Christendom in Europe.  During our discussion, we all agreed that Christendom was faltering for the most part as a dominant political (and even social/spiritual) institution from the 18th century onwards, but its decline was precipitated by the start of World War I.

 

To say the least, the start of the 20th century was marked by brutality and upheaval of enormous proportions, especially with the onslaught of World War I.

 

Here are our essays for the first half of this chapter.

 

 

Chapter 22: Europe Re-enchanted or Disenchanted? (1815 – 1914) – Part I

 

"Die Proklamation des Deutschen Kaiserreiches" by Anton von Werner (1877)

“Die Proklamation des Deutschen Kaiserreiches” by Anton von Werner (1877), depicting the proclamation of the foundation of the German Second Reich (18 January 1871, Palace of Versailles). Left, on the podium (in black): Crown Prince Frederick (later Frederick III), his father Emperor Wilhelm I, and Frederick I of Baden, proposing a toast to the new emperor. Centre (in white): Otto von Bismarck, first Chancellor of Germany, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Prussian Chief of Staff.

 

For next Tuesday, Sept. 23 read the first 3 sections of Chapter 22: Europe Re-enchanted or Disenchanted? (1815 – 1914) – Catholicism Ascendant: Mary’s Triumph and the Challenge of Liberalism, Protestantism: Bibles and ‘First-Wave’ Feminism, and A Protestant Enlightenment: Schleiermacher, Hegel and Their Heirs.  

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Chapter 19: A Worldwide Faith (1500 – 1800)

 

Conquistadors decimating the Inca Empire

Conquistadors decimating the Inca Empire

 

For this Sunday, we will go over Chapter 19: A Worldwide Faith (1500 – 1800).

 

Rather depressing (don’t know if that’s the right word) chapter to read personally, especially the brutal treatment of the native populations in the Americas and the slave trade in Africa.

 

Please write a summary or essay on one of the following:

  1. What was the Catholic Church’s involvement and stance of the early Western conquests and missionary work?  For instance, how did Pope Julius II’s Patronato, which gave the Spanish Empire exclusive rights to preach the Gospel in new territories, as well as conquistadors who saw themselves as part of the Reconquista or part of the crusade in Europe to destroy Spanish Islam and Judaism, play as a factor in the treatment of the native population in the Americas?
  2. Explain the efforts of some Dominicans and Franciscans who protested against the brutal treatments of the natives.  How did the ideas of the Franciscan Bartolome de las Casas lead directly to the enslavement of Africans and their coming to the Americas?
  3. Discuss how exclusive attitudes of Christian monopoly culture when dealing with the native culture and religions changed the landscape of the Americas.  How did the apocalyptic End Time beliefs of the Iberian Franciscans factor into their missionary work?  Describe how Christianity in the Americas evolved to become of mixture of native culture and Western Christianity.
  4. Describe the missions to Asia by the Jesuit Francis Xavier in 1542.  How were their attitude and approach unlike the Iberian missions to the Americas?  What were some tactics Jesuits used to reach out to the Chinese population who were antagonistic to Western culture and religion?
  5. Explain the reasons why Christian missions to Japan failed for the most part.
  6. Discuss the Church’s involvement with the African slave trade. Was the Catholic Church for or against the slave trade?  Did their attitudes change later on?
  7. Explain how native African beliefs mixed with Catholicism to form syncretistic variations like voodoo in French Haiti, Candomble in Brazil, and the Santeria of Cuba.

 

Please submit you writings by Saturday, June 28.

 

 

 

Questions for Chapter 18: Rome’s Renewal (1500 – 1700)

 

File:Paul iii and ignatius loyola.jpg

Pope Paul III approves the Formula Instituti of Ignatius of Loyola (1539)

 

Please read all of Chapter 18 in MacCulloch’s book where it centers around the Counter-Reformation by the Catholic Church from 1500 – 1700.

 

We will meet this Sunday to go over our essays.

 

Please write a summary on one of the following:

 

  1. Discuss the origins, development, rise, and importance of the Society of Jesus (or Jesuits) from its beginnings with Ignatius Loyola.  What role did they play in the Counter-Reformation?  Discuss their accomplishments in secondary education throughout Europe.
  2. Discuss the central tenets of the Council of Trent in 1545 and through 1563.  Include issues laid out for Catholic catechism, liturgy, and issues about the authority of the Catholic Church.  What was its greatest impact or lasting legacy?
  3.  Discuss the impact and acceptance of the two mystics: Teresa of Avila and Juan de Yepes (John of the Cross).
  4. What were the events that led up to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1572.  How were relations between French Catholics and Huguenots affected from this incident?
  5. Why did Poland-Lithuania embrace Catholicism after being “such a fertile seminary of Protestant experiment”?
  6. Discuss the differing ways Protestants and Catholics began implementing unique styles of worship and services.
  7. Discuss why Galileo was placed in prison for his scientific views.  What historical circumstances led to his verdict by the Catholic Church?
  8. Why did the persecution and hunting of witches happen during this time in Europe and North America?  Why did it eventually cease?

 

Please have your responses ready by this Saturday, June 14.

 

 

Chapter 16: Perspectives of the True Church (1300 – 1517) – Part II

 

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella

King Fernando (1452 – 1516) and Queen Isabel (1451 – 1504) of Spain

 

For next Thursday, April 10 we will cover the last three sections of Chapter 16: Old Worlds Bring New: Humanism (1300 – 1500), Reforming the Church in the Last Days (1500), Erasmus: New Beginnings?

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