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Historians reconsider the Crusades
The Confessing Reader ^ | 9/05/2005 | Confessing Reader

Posted on 09/07/2005 3:51:52 PM PDT by sionnsar

I like nothing more than healthy doses of truth that debunk misconstruals hoary with age and falsehoods atavistically - and piously - mouthed.

Fr Joseph Honeycutt recently posted an article by Thomas Madden, Chair of the Department of History at St Louis University, challenging long-held suppositions by taking a look at “The Real History of the Crusades“.

You might also want to take a look at Professor Madden’s article in the June/July issue of First Things, “Crusaders and Historians“, in which he reviews three recent books which take a fresh look at these much-maligned wars of European Christians on the Muslim conquerors of the Holy Land.


TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: crusades; thecrusades; thomasfmadden; thomasmadden

1 posted on 09/07/2005 3:51:52 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: Peanut Gallery

ping


2 posted on 09/07/2005 3:52:38 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (As an Engineer, you too can learn to calculate the power of the Dark Side.)
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To: sionnsar

The Crusades were truly a defensive war. It is a pity so many have lost sight of that. Islamic Armies had since the mid-seventh century overrun Christian kingdoms in the Holy Land, Anatolia, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Sicily and even invaded Italy. It wasn't until the mid-eleventh century that the Normans of Italy drove the invaders from Sicily and established a Christian kingdom there again. Spain was under a yoke and had been stopped from going further by Charles Martel (a good French general (gasp)). The Crusades were truly defensive, to reclaim lost kingdoms and relieve the pressure on the Eastern Bulwark of Europe, the Roman Empire of Byzantium.

My, how many have lost their memory of History. When I described the crusades this way to fellow college students a year ago, they were taken aback and immediately disagreed. No evidence was provided to support their assertions.


3 posted on 09/07/2005 4:30:50 PM PDT by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: StAthanasiustheGreat
Paul Johnson, in A History of Christianity, would suggest there's more to the story than you indicate.
4 posted on 09/07/2005 4:33:47 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: StAthanasiustheGreat

The History department at SLU is probably one of the best in the country. I would have loved to study there..


5 posted on 09/07/2005 4:34:24 PM PDT by cardinal4 ("When the Levee breaks, Mama, you got to move....")
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To: sionnsar

When they get done revealing the truth about the Crusades they would do well to destroy the black legend of the Spanish Inquisition too. Both black legends were largely created by the Protestant Reformers as a usual tool to bash the Catholic Church.


6 posted on 09/07/2005 4:36:44 PM PDT by big'ol_freeper ("Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought." Pope JPII)
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To: Hebrews 11:6

Obviously I didn't give the whole story, that would take a PhD and about 400 pages. No one wants to read what I have to read for that long. And of course, there were other motivations for the Crusaders, there always are. Many of them were not their for the Crusade, but for purely mercenary reasons. I am not familiar with Mr. Johnson, what else would he contend motivated the Crusades?


7 posted on 09/07/2005 4:40:15 PM PDT by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: StAthanasiustheGreat
I am not familiar with Mr. Johnson, what else would he contend motivated the Crusades?

As a substitute for penance and source of indulgences (page 233): "In 1095, Urban II, propagating the first crusade, laid it down that a crusade to the Holy Land was a substitute for any other penance and entailed complete remission of sin....Throughout the twelfth century, crusading was the only source of indulgences..."

Migration (page 244): "What really created the crusade...sprang from the vast increase in western population in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and the consequent land hunger...The idea that Europe was a Christian entity, which had acquired certain inherent rights over the rest of the world by virtue of its faith, and its duty to spread it, married perfectly with the need to find some outlet both for its addiction to violence and its surplus population."

Racial arrogance (page 45): "From the start, then, the crusades were marked by depredations and violence which were as much racial as religious in origin."

Ecclesiastical control (page 249): "It is, in fact, a misleading over-simplification to see the crusade simply as a confrontation between Christian Europe and the Moslem East. The central problem of the institutional church was always how to control the manifestations of religious enthusiasm, and divert them into orthodox and constructive channels. The problem was enormously intensified when large numbers of people were involved...A crusade was in essence nothing more than a mob of armed and fanatical Christians." (page 250): "Naturally, when antinomian mobs were liable to sweep away church institutions, established authority was anxious to get them out of Christendom--preferably in the East, whence few would return."

Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, A Touchstone Book/Simon & Schuster, 1976; first Touchstone edition 1995.

8 posted on 09/07/2005 5:09:35 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: StAthanasiustheGreat
Racial arrogance (page 245)
9 posted on 09/07/2005 5:10:42 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: Hebrews 11:6

Note that none of what Johnson writes contradicts that the Crusades were in essence a just war. What Johnson does is, he spreads some key words to which a modern reader has a Pavlovian negative reaction, such as "indulgences" or "violence", or "mob of armed and fanatical Christians". He also silently takes for granted that the East was Muslim. I never thought of Johnson as a yellow historian before (I read his History of the American People and some polemical articles) but these quotes convince me otherwise.


10 posted on 09/07/2005 5:22:37 PM PDT by annalex
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: annalex
these quotes convince me otherwise.

These are mere excerpts from a much broader context. They fit well in his overall thesis. Rejecting him out-of-hand, as you do, ignores that.

12 posted on 09/07/2005 5:30:01 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: Hebrews 11:6

Some excerpts reveal a mindset. His is a secular humanist drivel, adequate in discussing the events of the 19 century, completely useless in comprehending the Middle Ages. In addition, the tone of the excerpts is unprofessionally propagandistic, as he goes from one anti-Catholic button to the next.


13 posted on 09/07/2005 5:53:43 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
he goes from one anti-Catholic button to the next.

My understanding is that he is, in fact, a practicing Roman Catholic. Perhaps his response to your criticism would be that a realistic appraisal of past Catholic error is not "anti-Catholic" at all.

14 posted on 09/07/2005 6:00:09 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: StAthanasiustheGreat

I think they had a chunk of Portugal also.


15 posted on 09/07/2005 6:18:10 PM PDT by rudyudy
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To: Hebrews 11:6
Throughout the twelfth century, crusading was the only source of indulgences

Not true.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm

At first the pilgrims came simply to venerate the relics of the Apostles and martyrs; but in course of time their chief purpose was to gain the indulgences granted by the pope and attached especially to the Stations. Jerusalem, too, had long been the goal of these pious journeys, and the reports which the pilgrims gave of their treatment by the infidels finally brought about the Crusades. ... Similar concessions were frequently made on occasions, such as the dedication of churches, e.g., that of the old Temple Church in London, which was consecrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 10 February, 1185, by the Lord Heraclius, who to those yearly visiting it indulged sixty days of the penance enjoined them -- as the inscription over the main entrance attests.

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Faith/0910-96/article9.html

As the first ten centuries of the Christian era passed, there were no indications of an indulgence being present, as we would practice the doctrine. But by the eleventh century, many examples can be cited.37 It appears that practice may have developed at the local level first, rather than with any papal policy. This hearkens to the Fourth Lateran Council, which criticized the practices of some local bishops. But with time, the Church and particularly the Popes recognized this as a legitimate practice, based upon the doctrines of the faith. Further, it marked a shift in the practice of what was the forerunner of indulgences. Previously, these were granted on an individualistic basis. Now, in the eleventh century and after, general grants, available to all, could be attained to remit temporal punishments by visiting churches, making pilgrimages and giving alms.

37 Lepicier, p. 281. Cf. Hagedorn, p.33.


16 posted on 09/07/2005 6:45:16 PM PDT by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: rudyudy

Very true, nearly all of Portugal. I was using Spain to refer to the entire Iberian Peninsula, when I probably should have said the muslims controlled all of Iberia.


17 posted on 09/07/2005 7:42:21 PM PDT by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: Hebrews 11:6

It is, unfortunately, not uncommon to be Catholic and anti-Catholic at the same time these days.


18 posted on 09/07/2005 8:19:13 PM PDT by annalex
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To: big'ol_freeper
When they get done revealing the truth about the Crusades they would do well to destroy the black legend of the Spanish Inquisition too.

The Real Inquisition

19 posted on 09/07/2005 8:24:08 PM PDT by murphE (These are days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed but his own. --G.K. Chesterton)
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To: gbcdoj
Throughout the twelfth century, crusading was the only source of indulgences

Not true.

I was excerpting long quotations in response to a broader issue and chose to omit Johnson's cited qualification. He followed that phrase with a statement that limited exceptions were made to that general rule.

20 posted on 09/08/2005 7:11:12 AM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: annalex
It is, unfortunately, not uncommon to be Catholic and anti-Catholic at the same time these days.

Regardless, the mere existence of a fashionable trend does not mean that Johnson is a practitioner of it.

21 posted on 09/08/2005 7:14:04 AM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: Hebrews 11:6
What makes Dr. or Mr. Johnson's take on the Crusades more accurate than that of the threads subject?
22 posted on 09/08/2005 7:50:14 AM PDT by conservonator (Pray for those suffering)
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To: StAthanasiustheGreat
It wasn't until the mid-eleventh century that the Normans of Italy drove the invaders from Sicily and established a Christian kingdom there again. Spain was under a yoke and had been stopped from going further by Charles Martel (a good French general (gasp)). The Crusades were truly defensive, to reclaim lost kingdoms and relieve the pressure on the Eastern Bulwark of Europe, the Roman Empire of Byzantium.

The Hammer was more than a general. He laid the ground work for what was to be Europe, and blunted one of the spears of Islam.

23 posted on 09/08/2005 11:56:24 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: murphE
Part of the "black Spanish" legend is in that in the New World, many of the early adventurers who "Were conquering in the Name Of God!" would have found their way into a noose in Spain. The early history of the Southwest is filled with examples of conquistadors getting in trouble with the local bishops and priests, and the priests were constantly writing to their overseas superiors about the various idiots running around enslaving and looting the local inhabitants.

The local Christians liked the priests (which is why many tribes overthrew the leaders of the revolt in the 1600's), didn't mind the representatives of the Spanish crown, but hated the looter (often from Spain). That started the black legend.

24 posted on 09/08/2005 12:03:59 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: sionnsar
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25 posted on 09/08/2005 12:06:34 PM PDT by dennisw (***)
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To: conservonator
What makes Dr. or Mr. Johnson's take on the Crusades more accurate than that of the threads subject?

I never claimed it was "more accurate." The poster made a declarative statement to the effect that there was only one motive for the crusades, and here was my reply in its entirety:

Paul Johnson, in A History of Christianity, would suggest there's more to the story than you indicate.

He then asked for details, which I provided by quoting excerpts from Mr. Johnson's book verbatim. Another poster than characterized Johnson's comments as being obviously "anti-Catholic," to which I responded that there might have been another reason.

Now you question me, and for the third--and, one hopes--final time on this thread, I point out that the truth may be more complex than it appears at first glance. In other words, jumping to conclusions on flimsy evidence sometimes is worth challenging.

26 posted on 09/08/2005 12:15:24 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: Hebrews 11:6

What makes Paul Johnson's view (assuming your quotes in 8 are representative) inaccurate is not his anti-Catholicism, on which, I agree, there is room to argue, but their nauseating, banal, 20 century political correctness.

Indulgencies? We've been conditioned to knee-jerk here. A good Catholic, or a good student of the Middle Ages won't. An indulgence is granted even today for certain charitable work. It discredits, or adds "complexity" to the history of the Crusades just as much as the US congress awarding medals to good soldiers.

Migration? Hardly anyone settled in the Jerusalem Kingdom. There may have been a secondary effect of settling the Balkans, already Christian, by some who dropped from the Crusade midway. Like it or not, it is not a motivation but a side effect of the Crusades.

Racial arrogance? Guilty as charged. They did not have affirmative action or busing either.

Ecclesiastical control? Or, as Johnson himself explains, the church needed to channel religious enthusiasm to productive ends. Good for them, that is what an institutional church is for.

If this is all there is to his book, it is useless spin.


27 posted on 09/08/2005 12:37:06 PM PDT by annalex
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To: Hebrews 11:6
If you don't think Johnson's take is more accurate then why offer it as a source of information? I'm sure there are more than a few works that focus on the crusades from a Muslim perspective, why not offer those as a suggestion that there's probably more to the story?
28 posted on 09/08/2005 12:37:46 PM PDT by conservonator (Pray for those suffering)
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To: Hebrews 11:6

Keep in mind that Johnson wrote this book in the early 1970s. He was still a liberal then, I think. In any case, the book is deeply flawed. He has written some very fine books, but this is not one of them.


29 posted on 09/08/2005 12:57:08 PM PDT by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: Hebrews 11:6
One more point. In this book, Johnson, though a Catholic, buys into the anti-Catholicism which was common among moderate and liberal Catholics in the wake of Vatican II. So his book actually repeats the typical English Black Legend accusations against Catholic Spain. The section on the Protestant Reformation offers a somewhat vague Erasmian irenicism as the solution: if only both Catholics and Protestants had listened to Erasmus all would have been well--a kind of utopian, New Age Catholicism Lite that actually, in my view would have made things worse and was totally unrealistics (as all utopias are) to begin with. Johnson is a gifted writer and so he made it sound like the real answer, but anyone who is familiar with the era can see through it.

Again, none of this should take away from some truly great books by Johnson--his History of Art, Modern Times etc.

30 posted on 09/08/2005 1:01:28 PM PDT by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: Hebrews 11:6
But he was. We are talking about what he wrote 40 years ago.

I'm all for Catholics being honest about evil actions by Catholics in the past. Johnson simply was not accurate. Madden's work is excellent and Jonathan Riley-Smith and a host of other crusade historians have all made many of the same points. That's where the thread started, with Madden's work, which is excellent. Read it. Forget Johnson's book. It's simply not helpful; I can't imagine that even Johnson would defend it today, but perhaps I'm wrong.

31 posted on 09/08/2005 1:05:34 PM PDT by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: conservonator
If you don't think Johnson's take is more accurate then why offer it as a source of information?

1. I didn't offer it to you, so what's it to ya?

2. If it is any of your business, consider this: suggesting another source (among many, as you point out) is simply a way to say that there may be more to the story than the poster thinks. It is up to him whether to consult that source, or others, and how to evaluate it. My assessment of its accuracy thus becomes irrelevant; that is, I am only the courier, bringing it to his attention. Upon demand, I went to the trouble of typing out several paragraphs so he could evaluate it preliminarily, with the result that you give me grief for my efforts.

32 posted on 09/08/2005 2:11:51 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: annalex
If this is all there is to his book, it is useless spin.

As you wish. This was a minor discussion in his book, which is concerned with two millennia of Christian history.

Another poster later on this thread takes some pains to debunk Johnson's efforts, which perhaps will confirm your skepticism of it.

33 posted on 09/08/2005 2:15:54 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis

What is your opinion of The Faith by Brian Moynahan, if any? I liked it.


34 posted on 09/08/2005 2:19:49 PM PDT by annalex
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis
...Madden's work, which is excellent. Read it. Forget Johnson's book.

I see. Any other instructions?

Thanks for taking the time to enlighten me. As it happens, I am not particularly interested in history, the Crusades nor in Catholicism. So far, I've read two of Johnson's books which have been helpful to me in my own small way. My main interests, and thus the bulk of my time, lie elsewhere.

Best wishes.

35 posted on 09/08/2005 2:21:26 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: redgolum

"Conquistadores getting in trouble with the Priests and Bishops"..............These clergymen accompanying the Conquistadors were similiar in form and function to the Commisars of the Red Army. There was no such equivalent with the English/Scottish (Anglo/Celtic)conquerors of North America.


36 posted on 09/08/2005 3:49:19 PM PDT by BnBlFlag (Deo Vindice/Semper Fidelis)
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To: BnBlFlag

You think that the Commissars were there to restrain the Red Army? You got another think coming.


37 posted on 09/08/2005 4:05:43 PM PDT by annalex
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To: BnBlFlag
These clergymen accompanying the Conquistadors were similiar in form and function to the Commisars of the Red Army. There was no such equivalent with the English/Scottish (Anglo/Celtic)conquerors of North America.

In those expeditions under the official sanction of the crown, probably. However, many times it was band of adventurers that started out alone. There is a reason that the governors of Santa Fe got replaced often, they kept running off looking for gold

38 posted on 09/08/2005 4:17:29 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Hebrews 11:6
In other words, jumping to conclusions on flimsy evidence sometimes is worth challenging.

Hence, why we Catholics consider it our duty to constantly challenge Protestantism and its innumerable errors.
39 posted on 09/08/2005 4:50:48 PM PDT by Conservative til I die
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To: Conservative til I die
we Catholics consider it our duty to constantly challenge Protestantism and its innumerable errors.

What a hateful statement! Do you, upon reflection, care to clarify or retract it?

40 posted on 09/08/2005 5:27:02 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: annalex
If you want a Protestant version of Catholicism, Moynihan is fine. It's a typical self-loathing Liberal Catholic take on the Catholic Church. If it presented itself as a liberal Catholic (= Protestant) take, there'd be no problem. But anyone who thinks that because the author is a practicing Catholic he gives a Catholic view of the history of the Church will be sadly disappointed. If one wants careful history combined with a Catholic viewpoint, there aren't a lot of options: Warren Carroll is one; Philip Hughes (now out of print) is another. Crocker is not always careful with his history but certainly gives a solid Catholic viewpoint. And even where he pushes the envelope he's worth reading because he's challenging deeply embedded Enlightenment/Protestant myths.

And one of the most pernicious of the Enlightenment myths is the myth of "noble Islam" and "vicious cruel Crusaders"--which even secular historians, finally, now that the Enlightenment has died a well-deserved death (though its replacement, post-enlightenment post-modernism is a cure worse than the disease--actually its the dying gasp of the Enlightenment packaged as post-Enlightenment), even secular historians recognize that Madden's and Jonathan Riley-Smith's presentation of the history of the Crusades is far more accurate than Runciman's or any of the Christian-hating, Muslim-loving Enlightenment historians.

Before someone dismisses a clear Catholic viewpoint in writing as useless because it's a viewpoint, consider: every historian has a viewpoint, no historian writes from complete objectivity. Identifying the viewpoint of the historian is not done to discredit the historian but in the name of truth in advertising. The problem with Moynihan is that he claims a Catholic viewpoint when he writes from an Englightenment-Protestant viewpoint which is the standard, deeply embedded in Anglo-American popular culture viewpoint. The difference was that in the "old days" Catholics sought out and read Catholic-viewpoint history--Philip Hughes--which is good historical research from a clear Catholic viewpoint. Hughes is not afraid to point out where popes and Catholic kings and emperors sinned and sinned badly. But he does write from a faithful Catholic viewpoint.

Today, much of what passes as Catholic is actually simply the old Anglo-American anti-Catholic Enlightenment viewpoint repackaged as Catholic. That's the dissembling that does everyone a disservice. Carroll does not; Crocker does not--with both of them what they claim to offer they offer. That's not true with Johnson--his viewpoint is enlightenement/protestant/liberal Catholic. If one reads him with that in mind, one can learn valuable stuff from him, but what one won't learn is a solid Catholic understanding of the Catholic Church's history.

Don't get me wrong, Moynihan is an engaging writer and I'm sure you enjoyed reading him. Just don't assume that he's always accurate or Catholic.

41 posted on 09/08/2005 5:57:18 PM PDT by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: Hebrews 11:6
we Catholics consider it our duty to constantly challenge Protestantism and its innumerable errors. What a hateful statement! Do you, upon reflection, care to clarify or retract it?

No. Not in a million years.
42 posted on 09/08/2005 7:29:06 PM PDT by Conservative til I die
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis

I basically agree that his is the anglosphere's view of history, but I indeed enjoyed it and did not detect a serious anti-Catholic bias. Consider, for example, his sympathetic treatment of the Jesuits. Even the chapters on the Holy Inquisition allow for the truth to emerge from the requisite handwringing. The chapter of Hus was, indeed, written by a self-loathing pseudo Catholic but it was offset by a pretty damning description of the Taborites. I did not expect the impossible, which is a view of history written from a historical mindset, and so was pleased not to be insulted on every page.


43 posted on 09/08/2005 7:29:47 PM PDT by annalex
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To: Hebrews 11:6; Conservative til I die

Why is mentioning a duty to correct errors hateful? Is Protestantism not, in your view, a correction of the pre-Trent errors?


44 posted on 09/08/2005 7:32:04 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex; Hebrews 11:6
Why is mentioning a duty to correct errors hateful? Is Protestantism not, in your view, a correction of the pre-Trent errors?

My honest opinion is that many Protestants are not used to Catholics pushing back on them. I think they've been convinced for a long time that Protestantism is the foundation of Christianity (based on a very Amero-centric view of the world) and are surprised to find Catholics that don't agree.
45 posted on 09/09/2005 5:29:28 AM PDT by Conservative til I die
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To: annalex
Why is mentioning a duty to correct errors hateful?

I'm not going to respond (and not merely because your question is a straw man) because I'm through with the misplaced contentiousness and unfounded arrogance on this thread. If you reconsider his post, the reason for my objection might occur to you.

Meanwhile, you have my very best wishes for God's abundant blessings.

46 posted on 09/09/2005 7:24:59 AM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: Conservative til I die
No. Not in a million years.

You'll have substantially longer than that to reconsider. Meanwhile, I wish you all of God's abundant blessings.

47 posted on 09/09/2005 7:27:25 AM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Look it up!)
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To: Hebrews 11:6
1. I didn't offer it to you, so what's it to ya?

It's a public forum.

2. If it is any of your business, consider this: suggesting another source (among many, as you point out) is simply a way to say that there may be more to the story than the poster thinks. It is up to him whether to consult that source, or others, and how to evaluate it. My assessment of its accuracy thus becomes irrelevant; that is, I am only the courier, bringing it to his attention. Upon demand, I went to the trouble of typing out several paragraphs so he could evaluate it preliminarily, with the result that you give me grief for my efforts.

I wouldn't offer something as an alternative unless I thought the alternative provided a superior solution. But that's just me.

48 posted on 09/09/2005 8:13:28 AM PDT by conservonator (Pray for those suffering)
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