My latest effort as a student of history
Regular readers of this blog probably realize how important the study of history is to me; others may not, so I want to emphasize that here, and tell you what I’ve been doing with it lately. During the past month or so, I finally read two books on the history of the papacy I’ve owned for over a year, took detailed notes on them, and then condensed it all, with additions and images from Wikipedia, into a 56-page Word document entitled “How two books on the papacy, along with Wikipedia, put the history of the eastern Mediterranean and much of the history of the Western world into perpective.”
The document concludes with the following personal note: “In case the reader (if any!) is unclear as to the writer’s attitude toward all this, I have a shred of respect for the human effort involved in the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church, and for many of the people and ideas here discussed, but in general I regard all organized religions as controlling and power-hungry, and see the Roman Catholic Church and its executive arm, the papacy, as prime examples of this. The most striking literary expression of this is the figure of the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, who admits to being Satan (or his equivalent), but believes he’s providing a service for a humankind unable to handle real freedom or the truth. A progenitor of modern dictators.
Christianity, much of the early history of which is included here, got off track with St. Paul, who tried to explain the apparent defeat of the Crucifixion by making Jesus divine and promising believers eternal life in “Heaven,” not the message or main point of Christ’s ministry at all (“the Kingdom of Heaven is within you”). It went even further off the rails trying to impose “unity” and “organization,” an effort that expunged diversity, and plunged into earthly hell when Constantine united Church and state. The Roman Empire indeed! The very entity that had Jesus, a rebel against it, crucified.
So why am I so interested in all of this? Because I’m interested in people, in what they’ve thought and done (history), and believe we can learn from it – not repeat the same errors over and over. I believe if people were better educated, especially in history and geography, they’d understand the present world better and make better choices.”
If you’re interested in reading the doc or any of my other historical notes not already included here, let me know. I’ll find a way to share them with you. (I have stuff on almost any subject imaginable under the heading of history — what members of our species have thought and done in various times and places — oftentimes connected with literature, film, and recent TV. I’m a frustrated history teacher (trained to teach 8th grade English and social studies, but never got certified to do it)! I have a lot on religion, spirituality (very different from religion, which is usually organized), and Native American history and culture, including an entire illustrated text on the California missions.