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Posted on 12/24/2006 4:09:04 PM PST by blam
Mysteries of the Middle Ages
By THOMAS CAHILL
Published: December 24, 2006
The Cult of the Virgin and Its Consequences
In the first decade of the twelfth century, a little girl from the Rhineland town of Bermersheim, near Mainz, was offered by her parents as a sacrifice to God. Her name was Hildegard; her parents were Hildebert and Mechthild, a pious knight and his pious, well-born wife. Hildegard was eight years old when she was left for life with an anchorite named Jutta von Sponheim, who lived alone in a cell attached to the abbey church of Saint Disibod. (Disibod was a whimsical Irish monk-bishop of the seventh century who, disappointed at the lack of response to his preaching by his own countrymen, traveled to the Rhineland, became a protÈgÈ of the English Saint Boniface, evangelist to the Germans, and founded Disibodenberg, where he seems to have been rather more successful than he'd been in his native land.) Not only does Hildegard's story embody many of the cultural currents that reached their ebb in her time or soon after; this outwardly obedient daughter, her childhood cut so cruelly short, was destined to become one of the most important women of her age.
Using a living child as a religious oblation was no Christian invention. Greeks and Romans had ancient traditions of chaste priestesses and Vestal Virgins; and in the oldest records of both pagans and Jews we find evidence of "set-asides," human offerings devoted to a divinity. In the earliest archeological records, these offerings are literal human sacrifices, such as the bog burials of Scandinavia. Jewish tradition yields such offerings in surprising numbers, starting with Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son and continuing through Joshua's command to his troops to "devote" the people of Canaan to God under
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
It's odd that Thomas Cahill insists on writing about religion, to which he has always been completely tone deaf.
It's tragic that Hildegaard was locked up in that monastic cell, instead of going to public school and being forced to learn about homosexuality instead.
As for Cahill, there's no hater of the Church and Catholics quite like an ex-Catholic. Most are like himMarxists who try to explain everything that happens in terms of power and politics, at least where religious people are concerned.
What you see here, and at virtually all the big-name Catholic universities, is strutting, irreligious "scholars" who are obsessively afraid of prayer and sacrifice. They show a consuming hatred of those not as venal, comfortable, and self-interested as they are.
Hildegaard of Bingen, a sane, accomplished, and faithful Catholic, went on to become an abbess, as well as a world-renowned scholar. She corresponded with the greats of her time, and would have had no patience for a small-time intellectual onanist like Cahill.
Time to throw my Carmina Burana CD in the stereo and think of Hildegard and others of her ilk.
When I lived in the Mainz/Bingen area we have several favorite vinters whose families predated even Hildegard. Maybe they were Hildegard's cousins.
She also believed she had mystic powers, and wrote books about such mystical beliefs and feelings (much to the chagrin of her fellow Catholics). Lots of strange stuff in her background...
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I tried Cahill's "How the Irish Saved Civilization" as a book on tape, and I just couldn't take anymore after the first side. Ordinarily I like books on tape for long car trips, but that one was a clunker.
Mysteries of the Middle Ages:
The Rise of Feminism,
Science, and Art from
the Cults of Catholic Europe
by Thomas Cahill
Hildegaard of Bingen composed some smokin' tunes too. :')
Thomas sounds optimistic about islam...
"Islam, seven centuries younger than Christianity, nearly three millennia younger than Judaism, needs a distinguished theoretical peacemaker like John Courtney Murray and a warm-hearted, iconic peacemaker like John XXIII. If such peacemakers should emerge, they will stand -- as did Courtney Murray and Pope John in their tradition -- on the shoulders of great theologians and saints who came before them in the rich tradition of Islam. But to paraphrase the letter-writing atheist: insofar as a Christian can appreciate the providential workings of Allah in Islam, I am confident such peacemakers will arrive. My confidence is rooted neither in a baseless, smiley-faced optimism nor in a discredited historical determinism but in the belief that all the great religions hold in common, a belief that there is a force beyond human muddledness that holds up the universe, a force we usually call Providence -- the force that gives us hope for the future..."
I briefly borrowed this book from the library, but took it back after only reading a few pages due to Cahill's anti-Bush, anti-Iraq comments.
Check out "Born Fighting." IIRC by James Webb. It is a really interesting history of the Scotts-Irish.
It should keep you going on a long car trip.
She was also an artist and herbalist. I have a small books about her medical and herbal healing. I would like to read more of her works (translated into English, though) and hear some of her music.
For those who have an interest in this time period I recomend this. (think Early Middle Ages 101)
Early Middle Ages
(24 lectures, 30 minutes/lecture)
Course No. 8267
Taught by Philip Daileader
The College of William and Mary
Ph.D., Harvard University
We often call them the "Dark Ages," the era which spanned the decline and fall of Romes western empire and lingered for centuries, a time when the Ancient World was ending and Europe had seemingly vanished into ignorance and shadow, its literacy and urban life declining, its isolation from the rest of the world increasing.
It was a time of decline, with the empire fighting to defend itself against an endless onslaught of attacks from all directions: the Vikings from the North, the Huns and other Barbarians from the East, the Muslim empire from the south.
It was a time of death and disease, with outbreaks of plague ripping through populations both urban and rural.
It was a time of fear, when religious persecution ebbed and flowed with the whims of those in power.
And as Rome's power and population diminished, so, too, did its ability to handle the administrative burdens of an overextended empire. Fewer records were kept, leaving an often-empty legacy to historians attempting to understand the age.
But modern archaeology has begun to unearth an increasing number of clues to this once-lost era. And as historians have joined them to sift through those cluesincluding evidence of a vast arc of Viking trade reaching from Scandinavia to Asianew light has begun to fall across those once "dark" ages and their fascinating personalities and events.
He is writng a series of books on what he calls the "hinges" of history.
Monasticism is one of them.
I read this book in October. Overall it is a good book. Mr. Cahill thinks a little outside the box and pulls things out that I did not know or think of before. Mr. Cahill can get a little preachy and as previously mentioned above, brings things in like Iraq that are not really relevant to the discussion at hand. My opinion of Mr. Cahill is that he is a little bit in love with himself. I would recommend this book to those that are not hard core history buffs. There are some gems in there and it is a short read.
I read this book in tandem with 'How the Catholic Church Built Civilization'. This is an excellent book that defends the church through various topics like the church's development of medicine or education.
One of the funniest things that happened to me was, I was walking in to work one day and we had a new Security Guard, a Black Kid. The Kid looked at me and said to a friend, "Who is that 'Cracker looking Mother F---Ker'", I am in charge of fire and security and a Swamp Yankee, turned out to be real good kid, stuck in a mind set."