Thursday, May 10, 2018
English historian Arnold Toynbee wrote An Historian’s Approach to Religion in 1956. In it he spoke of Latin Christian Civilization’s decline, its replacement by an Exuberant Olympian Civilization, that civilization’s increasing menace to humankind and the rest of creation, and our future.
Latin Christian Civilization’s Decline
At its best (1073-1201), Latin Christendom formed a commonwealth of self-governing states under the religious authority of the pope. It delicately balanced his power as ruler of the Latin Christian Church with the freedom of political rulers and leading intellectuals.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Latin Christian Civilization began in AD 1 with the birth of Jesus Christ and ended in 1648 when it collapsed after a long, vicious, yet inconclusive civil war. After that its people, led by its best and brightest intellectuals, abandoned theology for technology and Jesus for Vulcan (god of technology).
Vulcan, of course, is just one of six now conventional yet always false and destructive gods of Olympianity. With devotion to him came adoration of the others as well. With remarkable speed, Olympianity replaced Christianity as the defining religion of the West and Christendom dissolved itself into Europe.
Monday, May 7, 2018
The civilizational tipping point in the West between Christianity and Olympianity, Christendom and Europe, technology as an expression of freedom or of power, came at the end of the Latin Christian civil war in 1648. Heralds of this change included Francis Bacon in his book, Novum Organum (New Method) (1620), Rene Descartes in Discourse on the Method (1637), Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan (1651), and Thomas Sprat in The History of the Royal Society (1667).
The first step taken by these still Christian intellectual leaders was to displace the saint or knight, and to ignore the natural philosopher, to valorize the technician as the real hero of Western Civilization.
In his book, The Betrayal of the West (1978), historian and cultural critic Jacques Ellul wrote that Western Civilization is unique in its affirmation of three values: freedom, reason, and the dignity of the individual.
Western tradition, beginning with Aristotle, identifies Thales of Miletus as the first philosopher and dates the beginning of Western philosophy from 585 BC. In that year, Thales was the first to predict an eclipse of the sun. Thales used reason to understand creational effects and their causes. By doing so, he was able to establish freedom, in this case some critical distance, between human beings and these effects.
In An Historian’s Approach to Religion (1956), English historian Arnold Toynbee highlights the invention or intentional spread of major technological innovations in the West before 1648:
Saturday, May 5, 2018
Every person and group faces a choice, at each moment, whether to follow Jesus on the path of freedom or six conventional Olympian gods on the path of power. Over an extended period of time, persons and groups establish themselves either on the Christian side of the spectrum or on the Olympian side. They also tend to move toward one end of the spectrum or the other.
In his book, An Historian’s Approach to Religion (1956), English historian Arnold Toynbee expressed his admiration for the Medieval Western Christian way of living because it maintained an unusual and delicate balance between freedom and power. Certain Latin Christian leaders kept themselves closer to the freedom end of the spectrum than was true of those before and after them. The best years of this balance, according to Toynbee, began in 1073 with the papacy of Gregory 7th.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Like humans, civilizations are born, develop to maturity, grow old, and die. To use a different analogy, civilizations, following the seasons of the year, blossom in springtime, ripen in summer, slacken in autumn, and disintegrate in winter.
If we look at Christendom as a civilization, we may say that it first budded in AD 1 when Jesus Christ was born, started to ripen in 380 when it became the sole official religion of the Roman Empire, began to decay in 1216 with the death of Pope Innocent 3rd, then disintegrated into Europe in 1648.
We may apply this same analogy to Exuberant Olympianity (1648-2008) as a civilization. Let us say that it budded in 1648, ripened between 1815 (end of Napoleon) and 1914, decayed until 2008, then began its own terminal disintegration.
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
In our fabled land of Olympia, the great Age of Christianity began in AD 1, with the birth of Jesus Christ; and ended in 1648, with the collapse of the Latin Christian civil war into the Peace of Westphalia. After 1648, the best and brightest Western Christian intellectuals abandoned theology for technology.
Thomas Sprat (1635-1713) was both a bishop in the Church of England and a founding member and secretary of the Royal Society. In his book, The History of the Royal Society for the Improving of Natural Knowledge (1667), he explains why he and other Christian intellectuals made the switch.