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.

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

Introduction

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.

Rococo

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

Counter-Reformation

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.