Thursday, October 27, 2022

Ecological Regions of Olympia

Our fable land of Olympia stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Volga River and from the Gulf of Finland to the Gulf of Sidra.

Northern and West Central Olympia: forest

Northern Olympia is dominated by the North and Baltic seas. Plains border their northern and southern coasts. Farther south come the lowlands, highlands, and mountains of central Olympia. Both northern and central Olympia have a temperate climate: to the northwest, oceanic; to the northeast, terrestrial; the dividing line, in the middle of Germania. But whether northern or central, plains or mountains, the temperate climate north of the Mediterranean Coast, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, nurtures the growth of forests: broadleaf, needleleaf, and mixed. More water means more trees. Less water reduces forests to woodlands, scrublands, grasslands, and finally deserts.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Olympian Climate

We will use three criteria for classifying climate:
     temperature (cold, cool, warm, hot)
     humidity (humid, semihumid, semiarid, arid)
     precipitation (frequency and quantity)
          frequency: seasonal or year-round,
          quantity: wet, semiwet, semidry, dry

Our fabled land of Olympia has five climates. Of those five, most Olympian provinces have a temperate climate either oceanic or terrestrial. Around the Mediterranean, hot dry summers and warm winters are common. A semi-arid climate is found in southeastern Olympia. Only Egypt is wholly arid. In more detail:

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

What Difference Does It Make? (Kierkegaard)

“‘Whatever difference there may be between two persons, even if humanly speaking it were most extreme, God has it in his power to say, “When I am present, certainly no one will presume to be conscious of this difference, because that would be standing and talking to each other in my presence as if I were not present”’” (Soren Kierkegaard, quoted by Vernard Eller in Towering Babble [1983]).

On Responding Creatively to Challenging Times (Blumhardt)

“The kingdom of God must be the desire of our hearts; then solutions will come. You can be useful when you are willing to bear the greatest misery for God’s sake…It cannot be in vain, bearing what God wills us to bear, when we are following the one who bore the cross” (Johann Blumhardt [or son Christoph], quoted by Vernard Eller in Towering Babble: God’s People Without God’s Word [1983]).

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Olympian Geography: Land and Water

Our fabled land of Olympia stretches west to east 2263 mi (3641 km) from Galway, Hibernia (Ireland), on the Atlantic Ocean to Kazan, Slavia (Russia), on the Volga River and north to south 2077 mi (3342 km) from Gävle, Götaland (southern Sweden) on the Gulf of Bothnia to Al Uqaylah on the Gulf of Sidra in Numidia (Libya).

We may note that variations in seas and landforms divide Olympia into roughly three different horizontal bands: (1) a northern band of seas and plains; (2) a central band of highlands, plateaus, and mountains; and (3) a southern band of seas and plains.

Saturday, October 8, 2022


All or parts of Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey lie within the geocultural province of Caucasia.

North: Kuban River from the city of Cherkessk in the Caucasian Mountains flowing north then west to the Azov Sea near the Kerch Strait, Kuma River from point nearest city of Cherkessk flowing north than east to Caspian Sea.

To the north: Slavia.

Thursday, October 6, 2022


Scandinavia is a geographical term which generally includes Norway and Sweden as well as some combination of Iceland, Denmark, and Finland. We will be using the ancient literary term Scandia to refer to Denmark as a whole but only the southern lands of Norway, Sweden, and especially Finland. We will also include, for geographical and cultural reasons, Estonia and Latvia. Beyond Scandia, one more geocultural province in our fabled land of Olympia, lies the rest of Scandinavia which will remain part of Incognito.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean Sea has a relatively uniform length west to east for two reasons. One, it begins at the Strait of Gibraltar which is only 9 miles (14 km) wide. Two, the Levantine coast on its eastern shore runs north to south in a relatively uniform way as it stretches from the Bay of Iskenderun to the city of Gaza. So, as a representative measure of length from west to east, from the Strait of Gibraltar to port of Beirut, the Mediterranean Sea is 2,316 miles (3,727 km) long.

Seas South of Slavia

Caspian Sea

When the mighty Volga River enters the Caspian Sea, its journey ends. The Caspian has no outlet. It’s the largest body of water with that characteristic on Earth. The Caspian itself is 750 miles (1,208 km) long from north to south, an average 200 miles (320 km) wide, and has an area of 149,200 square miles (386,400 sq km). It has an average depth of 692 feet (211 m) and a maximum depth of 3,363 feet (1,025 m). Surprisingly it’s a little salty, though with less than half of the ocean’s salinity. The shallow northern portion of the sea usually turns to ice in the winter; sometimes, the southern portion does as well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Dniester River and Southern Slavian Boundary

The Dniester River starts in the Carpathian Mountains near the village of Vovche (Ukraine near the Polish border) and flows southeast 840 miles (1,352 km) along the north side of those mountains to the Black Sea.

From the Dacian point of view, the Dniester forms the boundary of Dacia with Slavia to the northeast. It also forms part of the boundary of Dacia with Polonia to the northwest.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Dnieper River

In our fabled land of Olympia, the Dnieper River, at 1,367 miles (2,200 km) in length, is exceeded only by the Volga (2,200 mi/3,520 km) and Danube (1,767 mi/2,850 km). The Dnieper falls wholly within our geocultural province of Slavia. It starts 720 feet (220 m) above sea level in a peat bog in the Valdai Hills 3 miles (5 km) northwest of the rural village of Bocharovo (Russia) and 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Moscow. In its long journey, it flows roughly south through the cities listed below until it empties into the Black Sea.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Don River

The Volga River forms a significant portion of the eastern boundary of our geocultural province of Slavia. The Don River, another in Slavia, lies to its west.

The Don springs from the ground 720 feet (220 m) above sea level in the city of Novomoskovsk, Russia, 125 miles (201 km) south of Moscow and 30 miles (48 km) southeast of the city of Tula. It curves in a semicircular way as it flows south and east following the eastern edge of the range of rolling hills known as the Central Russian Upland. It gets closest to the Volga a mere 40 miles (64 km) from Volgograd and has been connected at that point to the great river by canal since 1952. The Don then veers southwest and, after a total journey of 1160 miles (1868 km), empties into the Sea of Azov at Rostov-on-Don.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Volga River

The Volga River forms a significant portion of the northern and eastern boundaries of the geocultural province of Slavia. It is Europe’s longest river, flowing 2200 miles (3520 km) from its beginning in the Valdai Hills to its end in the Caspian Sea. In comparison, in length the Danube is 1767 miles (2850 km); the Dnieper, 1364 miles (2200 km); and the Don, 1160 miles (1870 km). The Volga, Dnieper, and Don are all in Slavia.

The Valdai Hills form the northern section of the Central Russian Highlands. The headwaters of the Volga are located in these hills at Volgoverkhovye, 738 ft (225 m) above sea level, 264 miles (425 km) southeast of Saint Petersburg and 311 miles (502 km) northwest of Moscow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Romulus: Founder of Rome

Illustrious background

Tradition tells us much about the illustrious ancestors of the founder of Rome.

Perhaps twenty generations before the birth of Romulus, his ancestor Tros founded the kingdom of Troy in Anatolia. Ilus, son of Tros, founded what became the kingdom’s foremost city on the Hellespont (today’s Dardanelles). Ilus named his city Ilion after himself. The title of Homer’s book the Iliad means “the story of Ilion.” The city later became better known as Troy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Olympian Worldview: The Intellectual Challenge (1800s)

Rapid change of religion in the 1800s

In the 1800s, in Latin Christendom itself, Christianity lost its centuries-old place as the dominant religion to a resurgent, exuberant, Olympianity. Christianity no longer provided the self-evident worldview. It no longer told us who God is or about his relationship to us and ours with him. It no longer provided the shared explanation of why things are the way they are. It no longer served as the source of society’s form, culture’s content, and the form and content of our personalities.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Industrial Britannia: Church Decline and Response

Industrial Revolution: Christianity to Olympianity

The Industrial Revolution was in reality the first phase of a technological revolution still with us. With it a previously Christian society and culture became an increasingly Olympian one. 

Urban growth and church decline

One consequence of the technological revolution: the explosive growth of large urban cities at the expense of small rural villages.

The Paris Commune (1871)

France lost a humiliating six-month war to Germany in January 1871. Afterward, French National Guardsmen joined political progressives in a revolt against the restorative national government that had gotten them into the bloody mess. In March 1871, they organized a Commune in Paris with a progressive government independent of the Third Republic ruling from Versailles. It lasted for two months.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Marx on Religion

 Like the year 1830, 1848 was another one of revolutions across Europe. Early in that year, Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-95) published The Communist Manifesto (1848). It opened with the words, “A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre.”

Earlier, Marx wrote these words about religion (in Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1844):

Dynamics of Restoration after Napoleon

Restorative movement across Western Europe after 1815

In 1815, with Napoleon’s banishment to a small rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the crowned heads of Europe heaved a tremendous collective sigh of relief. They also created with one another an alliance they called holy to restore Christian society and culture to its imagined pre-revolutionary purity. In societal terms, they recreated the Inquisition and the Jesuits. Culturally, they restored the Index of Prohibited Books.

Restoration in Gallia

Even in Gallia, the Bourbon monarchy was restored after Napoleon’s exile. Louis 18th (1755-1824, r. >1815) ruled in place of his slain brother Louis 16th (1754-93, r. >1774), the Revolutionary Convention, and the emperor Napoleon. Yet, unlike Louis 16th, the new king ruled as part of a constitutional monarchy. When his younger brother Charles 10th (1757-1836, r. 1824-30) became king, he strove to restore pre-Revolutionary French society and culture. His efforts backfired and he had to flee to England.

Church-State relations: seesaw of hostility and cooperation

Beginning with Charles and continuing for decades, different social groups in France pursued divergent understandings of the right relationship between Church and State. Periods of mutual hostility and cooperation followed one another in quick succession.

When hostile, the State would exalt social equality at the expense of the Latin Christian hierarchy, knowledge through reason at the expense of knowledge on the basis of authority, and the scientific method rather than divine revelation as the source of truth.

When cooperative, the State would exalt a Church hierarchy that supported the State hierarchy, taught the people all they needed to know about living as obedient servants of their betters, and served as faithful guardian of a submissive Church tradition.

But whether hostile or cooperative, the State remained the dominant partner in the relationship.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Latin Church in Revolutionary France


In Britannia, mid-1700s, enthusiastic Methodists inside and outside the established English Church challenged otherwise complacent members and leaders concerning their commitment to Jesus Christ. In Gallia, late 1700s, delirious representatives of an exuberant Olympianity overwhelmed a corrupt aristocratic Latin Church.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Lisbon Earthquake (1755)

On the morning of November 1, 1755—All Saints' Day—a powerful earthquake struck Lisbon, Portugal. Less than an hour later a huge tidal wave flooded the city. As the water receded, fires engulfed what remained and burned for five days. Out of about 200,000 inhabitants, perhaps 40,000 died and over 85% of all buildings were lost.

Early Methodism

While some leaders of the established Church of England may have devoted themselves to Vulcan as the clockmaker god of reason, others begged to differ. For them, Methodism became, among other things, an emotional protest against the reasonable god of these Deists and the staid and respectable limitations placed on the worship of such a god.


The Latin Christian civil war, the response of Jupiter and Mars to the Protestant Reformation, brought an end to Latin Christendom in 1648. Instead of the one Latin Christian Church of 1517, several national churches and various smaller church organizations went their divergent ways.

English Christians Choose Classical Culture and Gods (1700s)

Classical cultural movement (1700s)

If Rococo art characterized Latin Christian Europe in the 1700s, English Christian Britannia found expression along more classical lines. Funereal art, for example, expressed in classical style, lines the interior walls of church buildings constructed during this time. Sculptures portray calm, satisfied, confident men, some even dressed in togas, mourned by stoic women and commemorated in recitations of standard virtues.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Dutch Republic: Religious Freedom

Some Nonconformists flee Britannia for northwestern Germania. In 1581 seven provinces of the Spanish Netherlands declare their independence from Philip 2nd, king of Spain, and form the Dutch Republic. Unprecedented is the Republic’s guarantee of freedom of conscience and worship to all inhabitants. This freedom applies not only to Protestants but to Catholics and even Jews. 

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

Nonconformity in Britannia

James 1st: persecution (>1604)

Elizabeth 1st (r. 1558-1603) pursues a policy of tolerance on questions of Christian thought and practice. James 1st (1566-1625, r. >1603) doesn’t. He prefers, for example, to punish Calvinist reformers within the Church of England. He chooses to have stubborn pastors excommunicated and to persecute their congregations. Even so, some congregations in Britannia persist in being Nonconformists to the Anglican church.

Huguenots: Calvinists in Gallia

Powerful reform movement in Gallia

Huguenots are Calvinist reformers in Gallia. In the early years of the movement for reform, it seems possible that Protestant reformers will prevail in Gallia against leaders of the Latin Church in and out of Gallia. 

Nobility and middle class

One important reason for this possibility: many people of the nobility and middle class favor progressive reform over conservatism or, later, restoration.

Anabaptist Beginnings (1525)

The three major groups of protesting reformers—Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican—all became established churches. There were other more mischievous movements, however, which pushed reform beyond the debilitating alliance of Church and State. Participants in these movements enjoyed the dubious distinction of being persecuted by Protestants as well as Catholics.

Monday, September 5, 2022


The Latin Church responds to Protestant reformers with a multi-faceted Counter-Reformation.

1. Society of Jesus (Jesuits)

Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556, fl. >1540): birth to conversion

Ignatius is born into a wealthy aristocratic family in the castle of Loyola in the kingdom of Navarre in northern Iberia (1491). Thirty years later a cannonball shatters one leg of this haughty soldier during a battle in Pamplona. While recovering, Ignatius decides to abandon weapons of the flesh and become a conquistador of the spirit.

Spiritual exercises

To train himself in his new vocation, Ignatius develops a series of spiritual exercises he designs to be done over a period of four weeks. Through these prayers and meditations, he is able to better detach himself from the things of this world and to focus more clearly on Jesus.

Paris: first friends

Ignatius leaves Iberia to study at the University of Paris (1528). While there, a small group of men become his friends, adopt his spiritual exercises, and with him commit their lives to witnessing to Jesus.

Rome: Jesuits

Ignatius and friends eventually travel to Rome (1538). There they promise complete obedience to Paul 3rd (1468-1549), pope (>1534), and his successors. Their goals are to share Latin Christianity especially with the marginal: the young, uneducated, or unfaithful, both within Latin Christendom and abroad. The pope officially approves their establishment of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) (1540). Given their commitment to the Latin Church, the pope commits them to fight the Protestant Reformation and, if possible, to regain lost governments, people, and land.

2. Rome: restoration not Renaissance

Rulers of the Latin Christian Church choose to become restorative champions rather than remain Renaissance patrons for internally coherent reasons as well as from competition with Protestant reformers.

Paul 3rd establishes the Roman Inquisition to suppress heresy (1542).

Paul 4th (1476-1559, r. >1555) forces all Jews in Rome to live in a particular neighborhood which becomes known as the Roman Ghetto (1555). He also requires them to wear distinctive clothing. He then creates the Index of Prohibited Books. On it are listed all books by Protestant reformers.

3. Council of Trent

A council of Latin Church leaders meets in the Norican city of Trent three times under three different popes (1545-47, 1551-52, 1562-63). There these leaders decide to reject the changes advocated by various Protestant reformers such as salvation by grace through faith, Sunday worship spoken in the vernacular language of ordinary people, and both wine and bread to lay people during the Lord’s Supper.

In keeping with the decisions made at Trent, Pius 5th, (1504-72), pope (>1566), strives to stop the sale of bishoprics and to provide all priests with the education, skills, and self-discipline needed to fulfill their vocations.

4. Wholesale oppression and war

Also at Trent, Latin Church leaders come to see conflict with Protestant reformers as one in which political oppression and war should be used without restraint.

5.  Baroque cultural movement

Latin Christian Church and State intentionally create the Baroque movement to contrast with the austerity of Reformation art and architecture. It is massive and expensive to emphasize the wealth, power, and permanence of Latin Church and State against anything or anyone else. It expresses its supreme confidence in total victory over all enemies in dramatic displays of detail and personal expressions of intense emotion.

The Jesuits in Rome construct the Church of the Gesu, the first church building in the Baroque style. On its ceiling, Jesus ascends to Heaven carrying the cross. Ignatius follows him closely. The two of them are surrounded by a host of similarly soaring saints. This too is in conscious contrast with reformers who insist that Jesus is the only existing mediator between man and God.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

The Reformation in Britannia (>1534)

Henry 8th (1491-1547, r. >1509)

Establishes a national church

The English Parliament declares Henry 8th, king of England, to be supreme head of a national Church of England in its Act of Supremacy (1534). This gives Henry complete control of the Latin Church in Britannia and disempowers the pope in Rome.

Friday, September 2, 2022

John Calvin (1509-64)

John Calvin in Basel

In 1535 John Calvin fled persecution of Protestants in Gallia and took refuge in Basel in Noricum. While there, he published the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536). He bettered other reformers by writing with greater brevity, clarity, and logic. He would continue to edit and expand the Institutes through many editions until his death. Shortly after its publication, John began a period of wandering.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Mars Adds His Corruption to the Lutheran Reformation (1524-55)

Peasants’ War (1524)

In Germania and Noricum a widespread rebellion by peasants, along with some nobles and even cities, broke out. It was the culmination of over 100 years of protests against harsh conditions and oppressive responses. It was inspired by Martin Luther’s own example of rejecting imperial and papal authority and the words he himself had used to do so. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Jupiter Corrupts Christian Discernment (1521-22)

Diet of Worms (April 1521)

Once Martin’s criticisms of the Latin Church reached a certain level of popular support, he attracted the attention of political leaders. Once political leaders get involved, so too does Jupiter. The question no longer concerns the truth. It becomes one of expediency. Even if rulers understand themselves as Christians, and do have tufluvian personalities, they face a dilemma: serve Jupiter and keep control or remain faithful to Jesus and lose it.

When controversy burst outside the bounds of Wittenberg, and even Saxony, Frederick believed that no harm should come to Martin without a proper hearing. Charles 5th (1500-58), Holy Roman Emperor and Frederick’s boss, agreed to hear Martin—and give him a chance to recant—before harming him.

Monday, August 29, 2022

The Universal Impact of Luther's Individual Insight (1517-21)

Sale of indulgences

In 1517, Johann Tetzel (1465-1519), a Germanian Dominican friar, was selling indulgences near Wittenberg, Germania. Why? Albert of Mainz was archbishop of two dioceses and bishop of a third. To rule more than one diocese at a time, he needed the permission of the pope. Leo 10th gave him permission in return for a large donation toward the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Albert borrowed the money from the banking house of Fugger in Augsburg. Leo allowed Albert to sell indulgences to repay the loan. Half the money raised went to Leo and half to the Fuggers.

Wittenberg University and Luther

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an important member of the faculty at the university in Wittenberg. Frederick 3rd (1463-1525), ruler of Saxony, had only recently started the university (1502). Martin had only, even more recently, begun his teaching career there (1512).

Ninety-five Theses

On October 31, 1517, Martin posted 95 theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. Some of these expressed his individual insight that indulgences were absurd since all human beings were saved by grace through faith. He also criticized other practices of the Latin Church that troubled him. There was nothing subversive about this. The door served as the community bulletin board. Posting assertions there was the normal way of inviting comments. Martin wrote his theses in Latin and expected responses in Latin from his learned colleagues.

Printing press

While Martin expected feedback from other professionals, his point of view nonetheless proved remarkably popular. Someone immediately translated his 95 Theses from Latin into German and rushed them into print. Soon readers across Latin Christendom debated them verbally. They also broadcast them in thousands of pamphlets made possible by the rapidly developing printing press.

Popularity of assertions

Martin’s assertions became wildly popular because many people across Latin Christendom already disapproved of various errors in Latin Christian teaching and practice. People in Germania also had a heightened sense that their interests were different from, and sometimes contrary to, those of the pope in Rome.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged. 

Martin Luther's Personal Troubles (1517)

Martin’s struggle with sin

Martin Luther (1483-1546) entered an Augustinian monastery in 1505. Even as a monk, he was tormented by a sense of his own sinfulness as well as his absolute inability to overcome it by his own efforts and merit salvation. Martin firmly believed the Latin Christian theology of his day in that he felt like he was a debtor to God. What he could not believe was that any amount of good works on his part could make him a creditor to God.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Sack of Rome (1527)

When popes took to commanding armies in a manner pleasing to Mars, they exposed themselves—and the people of Rome with them—to military attack. In 1527, mutinous armies of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, sacked the city of Rome. They even trapped Pope Clement 7th in nearby Castle Sant’Angelo until he paid an enormous ransom.

John Colet

At 26, John Colet (1467-1519) left Britannia to travel around Gallia and Latium imbibing the works of classical culture. He studied Greek, ancient texts, and early works of the Church Fathers. He heard Savonarola preach in Florence.

Back home, he met Erasmus at Oxford (1498). The two became lifelong friends. A third friend was added around 1505 when John met Thomas More. He eventually became More’s spiritual advisor. All three lived as inspiring Christian humanists.


Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) received his early education from the Brethren of the Common Life. He became a monk in 1488 and a priest 1492. For him as an adult, however, the center of life was not a monastery, court, or university but the homes of friends like John Colet and Thomas More. Together they reveled as intellectuals in the renaissance of classical culture.

Julius 2nd (r. 1503-13)

Giuliano della Rovere, a nephew of Pope Sixtus 4th (r. 1471-84), became pope himself and took the name Julius 2nd (1503). Head of the Latin Church, he ironically displayed great devotion to Jupiter, false god of politics, by participating in a bewildering and shifting series of alliances. He expressed his love for Mars, false god of war, by personally leading military campaigns against political enemies in Latium and Noricum. He did all this to free himself and his territories from interference by the French king.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Council of Constance (1414-18)

Sigismund (1368-1437), king of Hungary (from 1387) and Germany (from 1410) added his authority to the chorus of voices calling for a new council of the Latin Church. The Great Schism had to end and one new pope, supported by all, needed to be chosen. Tensions in Bohemia also needed to be resolved. It finally met in the northern Norican city of Constance. Up to 70,000 people came.

Brethren of the Common Life

Geert Groote (1340-84) started this religious order in Deventer, Germania, around 1380. With it began a new movement called the New Devotion, which spread gradually throughout Germania. People drawn to it sought a closer relationship with God through quiet devotion as they lived and prayed together and educated and cared for others. We may still sense the serenity of the movement by reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis (ca 1380-1471) who was a student in Deventer from 1392 to 1399. Erasmus (1466-1536) also studied there.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Jan Hus

A Bohemian scholar named Jerome carried the writings of John Wycliffe from Oxford (Britannia) to Prague (Germania). These writings greatly influenced Bohemian church reformer Jan Huss (ca 1369-1414, >1391). They even sparked riots. Bethlehem Chapel, near the university, provided a center for Hus and others supportive of Wycliffe’s reforms. Built in 1391 to serve as a place for preaching in Czech rather than Latin, its focal point was a pulpit rather than an altar. Both Hus and Jerome preached from it. 

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

John Wycliffe (ca 1325-84)

The Latin Christian Church in the 1300s was ripe for criticism. One of the more significant critics of Church and pope at the time was John Wycliffe (Britannia, ca 1325-84, >1367). He asserted that popes no longer served as witnesses to Jesus now that they lived like wealthy politicians, the Bible should be translated into languages ordinary people understood, and the selling of indulgences was wrong.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

The Great Schism

After the Babylonian Captivity of the popes at Avignon (1309-78) came something even worse: the Great Schism (1378-1417). In 1378 cardinals elected one man as pope and he lived in Rome. Disappointed in him, they elected another man who lived in Avignon. Beginning in 1409 a third man claimed to be pope. Circumstances reached the depth of absurdity when one of the popes began to call for a crusade against another and started selling indulgences to pay for it.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

Avignon Papacy

During the time of the Avignon papacy (1309-77), first called the Babylonian captivity by Petrarch (1304-74), the Latin Christian Church had seven popes, all Gauls. The first, Clement 5th (r. 1305-14), was pope when the papal bureaucracy moved from Poitiers in Gallia, where it had been for four years, just across the Rhone River into Noricum at Avignon (part of the Holy Roman Empire).

Monday, August 22, 2022

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Around 500 AD, Benedict of Nursia abandoned a collapsing Rome devoted especially to Venus (false goddess of sex) and Bacchus (false god of consumption). He chose instead to pursue simple living, centered on Jesus Christ, in a cave about 50 miles (80 km) east of the city. Finding his example inspiring, others joined him. He eventually founded a monastic community known as the Benedictines. They recently celebrated their 1500th anniversary.

After 600 years of existence, the widely respected Benedictine order had changed dramatically in character from its humble beginnings. Monasteries had grown wealthy from donations by pilgrims and rich nobles. They had acquired larger buildings, more elaborate sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and more complex chanting. Monks had long since abandoned their need for and commitment to manual labor.

First Look: Vikings

Columba and his band of twelve monks were the first to carry Celtic Christianity, with its emphasis on preserving the written word, from Hibernia. They took it to Iona, an island off the coast of Caledonia, in 563. There they started a center of learning that kept the light of knowledge burning during the dark days which followed the collapse of the western provinces of the Roman Empire in the 400s. The monastery on Iona sent their monk Aidan to Lindisfarne, an island on the opposite side of Caledonia, to start another center of learning in 635. Eventually the Christianity and literacy practiced by the monks of Iona and Lindisfarne spread to Britannia and Gaul.

Vikings were warriors swarming out of Scandinavia. What became the Viking Age began when they attacked the monastery at Lindisfarne (793). There they destroyed the church building, killed some monks while capturing others for slaves, and carried away booty.

Friday, August 19, 2022


Numidia was the name of an ancient North African kingdom which, at its greatest extent, stretched from Morocco to Libya. The people of Numidia were Berbers. We will use Numidia as the name for the geocultural province includes the narrow coastal ribbon of habitable land in today's Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and western Libya.
North: Mediterranean Sea from the Strait of Gibraltar to the town of El Agheila (Al Uqaylah) at the southern point of the Gulf of Sidra.


Egypt. For most of the last 6,000 years, this province has been known as Egypt. It’s that old.


The boundaries of this geocultural province differ from those of the modern state of Egypt.

North: Mediterranean Sea (from the southern point of the Gulf of Sidra, near Marsa al Burayqah, Libya, east to the eastern corner of the Nile delta at Port Said).

To the north, across the Mediterranean Sea: Hellas, Anatolia.

The East

The East. The Romans named this area "the Orient" meaning "the East."

We may subdivide this province into two historically significant areas. We may refer to the first, the Tigris-Euphrates river valley, as Mesopotamia; the second, the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, as the Levant (which also means "the East"). Things relating to it are Levantine.

This province includes today’s Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Sinai Peninsula, and a sliver of northwest Saudi Arabia.


Anatolia is an ancient name for this province and comes from a Greek word meaning “the East.” It includes most of today’s Turkey.


North: Dardanelles, Sea of Mamara, Bosporus, then Black Sea east to the mouth of the Coruh River. 

To the north: Hellas and, across the Black Sea, Slavia.


Hellas is the Greek name for Greece and means home of the Hellenes. Things related to Hellas are Hellenic. 

This geocultural province includes today's Greece, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, as well as Cyprus, Crete, and all those small islands littering the Aegean. 


North: the Danube River.

To the north: Dacia.


Our Dacia corresponds roughly to the Roman province by that name. It includes parts of today’s Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Hungary, and Slovakia.


North: Carpathian Mountains (from the Morava River), Dniester River. 

To the north: Polonia, Slavia.


Slavia is a Latin word meaning “land of the Slavs.”
This geocultural province includes parts of today’s Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Things related to this province are Slavic.
North: Baltic Sea (Gulf of Finland) from the mouth of the Narva River east to the Neva River, Lake Ladoga, Svir River, Lake Onega, Lake Beloya, Sheksna River, Rybinsk Reservoir, Volga River as far as Yaroslavl.


Polonia is simply the Latin form of Poland. The southern part of this geocultural province centers on the Vistula River—the traditional heartland of the Polish people. Its northern part roughly includes today’s Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Most of this territory was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which existed from the late 1300s to the late 1700s. 


North: The Baltic Sea from the mouth of the Oder River east to the mouth of the Narva River on the Gulf of Finland.

To the north: Incognita (Scandinavia).


Latium. Usually the land of this geocultural province is referred to as Italy. We can’t use that name for our study of history because it’s the name of a modern country. Historically, the most significant ethnic group in this province was the Latini. The ancient Romans belonged to them. They called their land Latium. This geocultural province also includes the large islands of Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily.

North: Arno and Rubicon rivers.
During the Roman Republic, the Rubicon formed part of the boundary between the Roman provinces of Italy (referred to here as Latium) and Cisalpine Gaul (which we refer to as Noricum). The Rubicon lies just south of Ravenna.


Noricum was the name of a kingdom, centered around what would become Vienna, that was eventually absorbed by the Roman Republic. I extend the meaning of this name to include a larger area. Things related to Noricum are Noric; its people, Noricans.

As used here, this province includes a broad collection of today's countries: southern Germany, most of Austria, western Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, northern Italy, eastern Switzerland, and the southeastern corner of France.


North: Saône River and Danube River (until just north of Budapest where it begins to flow almost due south). 

To the north lies Gaul, Germania, and a small part of Dacia.


Germania was the Roman name for roughly this geographical area. It includes most of today's Netherlands, Germany east of the Rhine and north of the Danube, southwestern Poland, most of the Czechia (all of Bohemia and most of Moravia), and a sliver of Austria. Things related to this province are Germanic; its people are Germanians (to distinguish them from today’s Germans).


North: North Sea, Eider River, Baltic Sea.

North of Eider River lies the Jutland Peninsula which is part of Incognita (Scandinavia).


Iberia is an ancient name for the peninsula which includes all of today’s Spain and Portugal. This province also includes the Balearic Islands.


North: Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay) and Pyrenees.

To the north: Gaul.


Gallia was the Roman name for most of this geographic area. It includes today’s France and Belgium and those parts of today’s Netherlands and Germany which lie west of the Rhine. Things relating to this province are Gallic; its people, Gauls.


North: English Channel and North Sea.

North of it: Britannia.

The Celtic Isles

For our purposes, we may more rightly refer to the British Isles as the Celtic Isles. In ancient times, the Britons were only one of three important groups of Celts living on the Isles.

The Celtic Isles consist of two large islands plus numerous much smaller ones. The Britons along with the Caledonians lived on the larger one of the two. Rather than calling that larger island (Great) Britain, we may refer to by its other ancient name as Albion. The smaller of the two large islands we may rightly call Hibernia.

So we have two large Celtic Isles: Albion, divided into Britannia (south) and Caledonia (north) at Hadrian’s Wall, and Hibernia.

North: Incognito (Oceania; specifically, the North Atlantic Ocean).
East: North Sea, then Scandia.
South: English Channel (including the Strait of Dover), then Gallia.
West: Incognita (Oceania; specifically, the North Atlantic Ocean).

Major cities
Primary: London (Britannia).
Secondary: Edinburgh (Caledonia), Dublin (Hibernia).

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

Monday, August 15, 2022

First Look at Charlemagne

Charlemagne and Saxons (Germania, 772-804)

Charlemagne (742-814, r. >768), king of the Franks, begins his conquest of Saxony early in his long reign (772). He pursues this goal for more than 30 years. During this time, Charlemagne is not content to seize territory. He wishes to impose even a religious uniformity upon his new subjects. He commands his Frankish Christian armies to kill Saxon Olympian soldiers but, more importantly, to destroy their sacred places, steal any gold and silver objects found in them, convert Saxons at sword point, and execute those who relapse into Olympianity (reputedly 4500 in one day in 782).

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Boniface: Apostle of Germania

Boniface (ca 672-754; fl. >716) is, like Willibrord, both born in Britannia and a Benedictine monk. He even gains his first experience as a missionary ministering with Willibrord in Frisia (716). When Boniface travels to Rome, the pope sends him as a missionary to Germania (719). 

On one occasion, while preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and challenging the devotion of the Germani to the Olympian gods, Boniface approaches a large and ancient oak tree sacred to Jupiter. He dares the god to strike him dead as he buries his axe in its trunk. Instead, a sudden gust of wind drops the tree. All the Olympians present instantly choose to become Christians. Thousands more do so in response to his preaching. 

Willibrord: Apostle to the Frisians

Willibrord (ca 658-739) is known as the “Apostle to the Frisians” of northwest Germania (today’s northeast Holland and northwest Germany). Willibrord is born in northern Britannia in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. As a young adult he travels to Hibernia to study at an Anglo-Saxon monastery (678-690). Egbert (639-729), his teacher, chooses him and others in response to a request for missionaries made by Pepin 2nd (635-714). At this time Pepin is Latin Christian leader of the Franks and new tentative ruler of the Frisians. Once in Frisia, Willibrord successfully starts numerous churches and monastic communities. In 716 the Olympian Redbad (ca 648-719, r. >680), traditional ruler of the Frisians, reasserts his control and orders church leaders killed and church buildings torched. Following his death, Willibrord returns to Frisia with Boniface under the protection of Pepin’s son Charles Martel (“the Hammer”) (ca 688-741, r. >715).

Friday, August 12, 2022

Early Christianity in Britannia (ca 50-664 AD)

Joseph of Arimathea

Matthew tells us that Joseph of Arimathea, and early disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate for the body of Christ and laid it in his own tomb (Matthew 27:57-60). Medieval legend tells us that this same Joseph is among the earliest disciples to bring the Good News to Britannia. Certainly anonymous Christians bring it as they travel to the province. 

Latin Christianity in Britannia

Latin theologian Tertullian (writing ca 200 AD) and Greek theologian Origen (ca 185-ca 253) both write of Christians present in Britannia. A contemporary summary of the Council of Arles (314) records the presence there of three bishops from Britannia. When ruler Theodosius makes Christianity the Empire’s sole official religion (391), this ruling applies to the Roman province of Britannia as well. Patrick, a native of Britannia and Christian missionary to Hibernia (Ireland) in 432, has grandparents who are Christians.

Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Ravenna was the major port in Latium from which travelers would embark for Constantinople. It still boasts six sumptuous church buildings constructed in the 500s and decorated in the Greek Christian style. A mosaic in the basilica of San Vitale (completed in 547) portrays the Greek Christian emperor Justinian as the representative of Jesus Christ on Earth. As such, he is being served equally by soldiers and bureaucrats—and clergy.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Beginnings of Western Monasticism

Sack of Rome (Latium, 410)

After standing inviolable for over 800 years, Rome is sacked by Goths in 410 and, much too soon again, in 455 by Vandals.

Monasteries: source of new order (Western Christendom, 400s)

As the western provinces of the Roman Empire collapse into disorder, men seeking some meaningful and viable alternative begin exploring the possibilities of living together in monastic communities. At first these are nothing more than local attempts to create a little social order around Jesus as the center. Centuries later monasteries would be primary sources of new order across Christendom.

Important Developments in Fourth-century Christianity

Christianity: persecuted (Roman Empire, 303-312)

Under the rule of Diocletian, the Roman government starts its severest persecution of Christians (303). Across the Empire, assembly for worship is forbidden, church buildings are looted then torn down, Bibles are burned, Christian politicians, bureaucrats, and soldiers are stripped of rank and benefits and cast out, and church leaders especially are targeted for harassment, torture, and execution. Even after the voluntary retirement of Diocletian in 305, the persecution continues another seven years. Despite it all, the Church remains standing.

Christianity: legalized (Roman Empire, 313)

Constantine and Licinius, the two rulers of the Roman Empire, meet in Milan and issue a written agreement (313), the Edict of Milan, in which they grant Christianity legal status and thereby end the centuries-long persecution of Christians within the Empire.

Monday, August 8, 2022

The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem

Nehemiah, cupbearer for the Persian emperor Artaxerxes (r. 465-424) in the capital city of Susa, hears of the difficulties facing his fellow Jews in Jerusalem. By the grace of Yahweh and permission of the emperor, he goes there in 445 (Nehemiah 1-2).

Strong local Olympian leaders oppose the establishment of a vibrant Jewish community in Jerusalem. For the Jewish community to gain strength against this opposition, Nehemiah sees it first needs to rebuild the city’s walls. He immediately sets men to the task.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Fall and Rise of Yahweh's Temple

Destruction and Exile

Since calling Abraham to his side in the late 1900s BC, Yahweh had understood his relationship to Abraham and his descendants, as well as theirs to him, as unique. Yahweh spoke of it many times in just this way: “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Yahweh’s intention was to be a blessing to them and a blessing to the other peoples of Earth through them. To cultivate this special relationship, Yahweh promised Abraham to grant his descendants a special place in which to live. Yahweh granted this Promised Land to his people Israel in the late 1400s BC. 

Sadly, Yahweh’s people chronically rejected Yahweh’s special relationship with them and theirs with him. This despite Yahweh’s persistent attempts to strengthen that relationship and to weaken his people’s misguided devotion to the six false Olympian gods.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Jeremiah and the End of Judah

Jeremiah spoke words of Yahweh to Yahweh’s people for over 40 years. Yahweh’s goal was to call his people back to him—to win them away from false Olympian gods once again. 

In Jeremiah’s time, Yahweh’s people much prefer the Olympian gods to him. With Pluto, false god of money, the rich trick the poor out of their money and leave the poor to starve. Loyal to Jupiter, judges know this but wink at their wealthy friends as they fail to establish justice and reestablish righteousness (or a rightly ordered society).

The Ministry of Isaiah

Like Amos, Isaiah speaks against religion. We may think of religion as a system of merit in which one conforms to a moral code and, by doing so, earns moral points. The more moral points one earns, the happier one’s god is with one and the more quickly one’s god must fulfill one’s desires. Also, if one possesses more moral points than another, then one is morally superior to that other and gets to look down on them with satisfaction.

Through Isaiah, Yahweh tells his people he is not interested in their religion. He is not a means to their ends. He neither awards moral points nor maintains a moral credit and debit account. Consequently, he freely disregards all the sacrifices of animals occurring in his house in Jerusalem. He does not care at all for the festivals being celebrated even if they are according to his law. He can no longer bear all the people traveling to Jerusalem to visit him (Isaiah 1:10-17). They say his name with their lips but their hearts are with the false Olympian gods (29:13-14). Proof: they tell his prophets to proclaim their smooth illusions rather than speak his tough truth.

Josiah's Example of Public Repentance

Like Hezekiah, Josiah (r. 641-610) wholly commits himself as king of Judah to Yahweh. He becomes king when he is only 8 years old. When he is 18, he commands that money stored in the Temple of Yahweh be used to repair it. In the process of gathering the stored money to count it, the priest Hilkiah discovers the “Book of the Law” (2 Kings 22:8)—likely the Book of Deuteronomy.

After Deuteronomy is read to Josiah, he humbles himself, repents of the disloyalty of Judah toward Yahweh, and seeks to know Yahweh’s present will. A woman named Huldah, a prophetess, declares to him the word of Yahweh: all of the disasters following chronic disloyalty will fall upon the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Because Josiah humbled himself and repented, however, Yahweh will not bring these disasters upon Jerusalem during his lifetime. (ch. 22).

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Arrogance Preceding Crushing Defeat

Hezekiah is 25 when he begins to rule Judah in 726 BC. He becomes one of the few kings of Judah to remain as loyal to Yahweh as his ancestor David had been. One important way in which he expresses his loyalty to Yahweh (only true god), rather than to Jupiter (false god of politics), is by withholding tribute to the king of Assyria (2 Kings 18:7).

Years pass between that refusal to express loyalty to Assyria and Assyrian retribution. Finally its huge army marches on tiny Judah and quickly captures all its fortified cities except Jerusalem (18:13).

The Book of Amos

Jeroboam 2nd (r. 825-784 BC) is the last king to rule over a politically expansive and economically prosperous Kingdom of Israel. Soon Yahweh will allow Assyrian aggression to end the Kingdom of Israel for its chronic disloyalty to him (2 Kings 14:23-29). 

During this time of illusory rejuvenation, Yahweh calls the shepherd Amos (active 797-787) away from his flocks in Judah to warn Israel of its impending destruction.

Through Amos, Yahweh challenges Israel’s devotion to Jupiter (false god of politics). Fighting back, royal officials forbid prophets to speak the challenging but liberating words of Yahweh (Amos 2:12). Yahweh persists in sending these defiers of a destructive status quo because he does not act without first revealing his intentions to his people through his prophets (3:3-8). Yahweh tells the leaders of his people to seek good and not evil by establishing Yahweh’s justice.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022


Across the Jordan River, opposite Jericho, Elisha sees Elijah ascend to Heaven in a whirlwind (896 BC). Just before that, Elisha had asked Elijah for a double portion his spirit (2 Kings 2:9). Elijah had told Elisha that he’d get it if he saw him ascend to Heaven. Now Elisha’s got it.

At this time Jehoram, son of Ahab and Jezebel, becomes ruler of Israel (896-884) while Jehoshaphat continues as ruler of Judah (914-889). Jehoram would do what was evil in Yahweh’s sight but not as much as his notorious father and mother had (3:2). Jehoshaphat had been doing what was right in Yahweh’s sight—mostly (1 Kings 22:43).

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Ahab and Elijah

The Book of 1 Kings is 22 chapters long. Solomon, wisest and richest of Israel’s kings and builder of the one temple dedicated to Yahweh, dominates 11 of them. Ahab, king of Israel (918-897 BC), features in 7 of them. Why this attention to Ahab? An ironic reason: Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him (1 Kings 16:30). A more edifying reason: Yahweh’s creative response to Ahab’s multi-faceted evil through the prophet Elijah. 

Ahab sins: he perpetuates the sin of Jeroboam by subordinating the worship of Yahweh to that of Jupiter (called Baal), marries Jezebel of Sidon (a foreigner and enthusiastic Olympian), builds a temple in the capital city of Samaria and dedicates it to Jupiter, and sponsors the worship of Venus (vs. 31-33). These are just the highlights.

Rehoboam and Jeroboam

During his rule (1015-975 BC), Solomon condemns thousands of innocent Israelites to hard labor first to build the Temple of Yahweh and then to construct a palace for himself. When he dies, the people of Israel tell Rehoboam his son that they will serve him only if he lightens their load (1 Kings 12:4). When Rehoboam consults advisors to his father, they encourage him to do this. When he asks his friends, they tell him to stay tough. Contrary to both, Rehoboam tells the Israelites he will impose his will on them by making their load heavier than they ever imagined. The Israelites abandon him and make a man named Jeroboam their king. Only the people of Judah and Benjamin remain loyal to Rehoboam (vs. 16-24).

Monday, August 1, 2022


Just before David dies (1015 BC), he appoints his son Solomon (1034-975, 59 years) ruler in his place. Priest Zadok and prophet Nathan affirm David’s choice by anointing Solomon king. David soon dies and, after a brief dynastic struggle, Solomon rules as king (1 Kings 1-2). 

One night Solomon has a dream. In it Yahweh asks him what he desires. Given his youth, Solomon requests wisdom enough to rightly govern the people of Yahweh. This response so delights Yahweh that he grants wisdom to Solomon plus the riches and honors he did not seek (ch. 3).

Saturday, July 30, 2022


Following the death in battle of Saul, king of Israel, David (1085-1015 BC) is first anointed king of Judah (1055) then, seven years later (1047), king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:4-5). After David and his men take Jerusalem, he makes it the capital of the united kingdom of Judah and Israel. “David went on and became great, for Yahweh, God of Hosts, was with him” (v. 10).

Vulcan, false god of technology, bullies, bribes, and deceives us into building cities as our greatest monuments to him. Against Vulcan, David seeks to introduce a different element into Jerusalem. He seeks to devote the city to Yahweh by building in it a house (temple) for the Ark of the Covenant (ch. 6). The prophet Nathan, however, tells David that Yahweh does not desire this. Instead, Yahweh will build a house (dynasty) for David that will endure forever (ch. 7).


Yahweh yields to the demand of his people and has Samuel, prophet and last judge, anoint Saul of Benjamin as Israel’s first human king (1 Samuel, chs. 9-10). Previously, both Yahweh and Israel had understood him to be Israel’s king.

Initially, Yahweh is with Saul. When the Ammonites threaten to gouge out the eyes of every Israelite in Jabesh-Gilead, Yahweh inspires Saul and the people of Israel to defeat the Ammonites (ch. 11).

Friday, July 29, 2022

Dry Bones

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And…behold, they were very dry…Then he said to me, “Son of Man, these bones are the whole house of Israel’” (Ezekiel 37:1-2, 11a; English Standard Version, here and following).

In “Faucet Theology” (July 28, 2022), we spoke of God’s silence today throughout the churches of the United States, Canada, and the European Union. Of course, when God is not speaking his life-giving words to us, we get the situation revealed by God through Ezekiel: our reduction to dry bones.