Simon Shama on the “snares of history” for the Secular Humanist

Another TV history professor that I really admire is Simon Shama. I was totally engrossed by his “History of Britian”, both the series, and later the book. So when I saw a new audio book in the library, “The American Future: A History” by Shama, I pounced. By last Thursday night, I had listened to about half of it, and was surprised to look in the TV guide for the evening and see that the first episode of a TV series based on the book (or is it the other way around?) was showing that night. As it turns out, the book and the TV series seems to begin differently (probably because the book concentrated on Obama’s election, and his presidency is not exactly hot news at the moment), but it appears that from next week’s episode, the book and series will be back in sync with a concentration on the history of American beligerance… (it is very interesting, and a story well told, I assure you!).

Any way, yesterday, I was listening to the end of disc 7 – I don’t know what chapter or page that is in the book – and I came across this passage at the end of his treatment of the emancipation of the slaves:

The fervour of the abolitionist evangelicals complicates the way we might feel about the wall of separation erected by the Virginia Statute and the First Amendment between morality and politics.

Of course, it was entirely possible to arrive at an abhorrence for slavery from rationally derived ethics, the degradation of man to commodity, the violation of natural right to sovereignty over person and so on.

Historically though, both in the early nineteenth century and again in the 1960s, the force of shame directed at slave holders and segregationists was religious. Realistically, it was unlikely that the propagation of enlightenment views of humanity would have swayed millions of nineteenth century white Americans against slavery. After all such moral principles convinced Jefferson and Patrick Henry of the infamy of the institution, but still failed to move them to liberate their own slaves. So what hope was there of persuading less high-minded Southerners to make sacrifice of their property, or what Henry described as “inconveniencing himself”.

Both in the 1830’s and 1840’s and then again in the 1960’s, it was the determination of the Rankins and Finneys and Fanny Lou Hamers to cross the line between religion and politics and appeal to the country’s Christian conscience that brought white Americans into brotherhood with persecuted blacks.

For secular humanists like this writer this is an awkward historical truth to acknowledge, accustomed as we are to equating evangelical fervour with illiberal reaction. The abolitionist argument that some enormities were so vicious that they had to be made accountable to the principles of the gospel, even if that meant breaching the establishment clause of the first amendment in the interest of a higher good, is not all together different from the way that “right to life” evangelicals argue today

History sets such snares to make us think harder.

Indeed.

You can find a review of the book here, and if you missed the episode on Thursday night, you can watch it for the couple of weeks here on ABC’s I-View.

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34 Comments

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34 responses to “Simon Shama on the “snares of history” for the Secular Humanist

  1. Louise

    Wow! Something worth watching on the Australian Barbarian Central!

  2. Two cheers for Protestantism, then?

    (Among Lutherans, the Franckean Synod took a strong stand against slavery prior to the Civil War; not surprisingly they were Pietists and (surprisingly?) activistic in expressing their their faith. )

    • Why do you wish to make this a “protestant”/”Catholic” thing, Pastor Mark? I don’t know how many of the slave owners in the south were Catholics. Probably a good many in some parts. I guess there were as many Catholics as there were Protestants on both sides. Mind you, Catholics were generally lumped in with Jews and blacks by groups such as the Klu Klux Klan, who had plenty of protestant supporters, but no Catholic supporters as far as I know.

      • Past Elder / Terry Maher

        Catholics can become members now it seems, but that is recent. They were at one time on the “list”. My mom remembered having to be hidden with the black kids during KKK marches — and this was in Iowa, not “the South”!

  3. Matthias

    The Orthodox Presbyterian Church of America ,which was largely Northern States based,decided at a Synod to excommunicate slave owners

    • But as Shama makes clear elsewhere in his book, the KKK got a lot of support from presbyterians in the South.

      The real question is not a Protestant/Catholic one, but rather a Christian/Rationalist one. There were Rationalists and Christians on both sides of the slavery debate – Shama’s point is that it was the Christian rhetoric against slavery that carried the day, not the Rationalist rhetoric. And it did so by crossing the “Church/State” divide which the Americans hold so dear.

      He compares it to the Right To Lifers – who are in equal measures Catholic and Evangelical in the States today.

  4. Matthias

    And I should have added if you can procure a copy of Francis Schaeffer (theologian and philospher) and C Everett Koop”s ( surgeon and onetime Surgeon general of the USA under ronnie Reagan) great book , WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? you will find a historical reference to the ruling of the OPC on slavery. The other book by Schaeffer that mentions this is A CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO.

  5. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    His “History of Britain” aired on the History Channel here and was magnificent! Something that particularly struck me was the parallels and contrasts he drew between contemporaneous developments in India and what became the US.

    Nonetheless, the First Amendment erects no wall whatever between morality and politics. It simply says that here there will be no official state church, or in the language of the time and place, establishment of religion as in Mother England.

    • Shama actually discusses the various interpretations of the “separating wall” idea, and how it was interpreted by the various State constitutions. It seems that there was as much disagreement about the extent to which the First Amendment applied two hundred years ago as there is now.

      • Past Elder / Terry Maher

        It is a very simple thing that many have tried to appropriate for their own ends. All it does is forbid Congress from making any law regarding the establishment of religion — ie, making an official state religion, and what goes with it, the church officers being state officers, and state officers having a say in church officers, state money used to support clergy and buildings etc. The phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution of the US at all.

        • In other words, it forbids the Social Reign of Christ and imposes the Social Reign of Pilate.

          • Past Elder / Terry Maher

            There is no social reign of the one who said his kingdom is not of this world. That is a self-justifying fantasy of state churches, maintained even when the state no longer exists but the church does.

            Poor Jesus, came proclaiming the Kingdom of God and all he got was Christendom, as we used to say.

            • “There is no social reign of the one who said his kingdom is not of this world.”

              If I had a dollar for every time someone said something like that as an objection to the dogma of the Social Kingship of Christ …

              Quas Primas really is a magnificent document, by the way.

              “That is a self-justifying fantasy of state churches”

              I’ve never heard of any Protestant State church arguing for the continuation of their establishment on the basis of the Social Kingship of Christ. Presumably they would argue for it on the basis of the high proportion of the populace belonging at least nominally to that church. Maybe I should check with, say, Denmark’s Ministry for Ecclesiastical Affairs.

              • Past Elder / Terry Maher

                Quas Primas indeed. And where was this in the previous, by the RCC’s count 1925, years of the church’s existence? Nowhere.

                In my youth, the Feast of Christ the King, introduced in 1925 and celebrated on the last Sunday of October. Quas Primas took up themes of Annum Sacrum, which broke new ground by consecrating the entire world, non-Christians and all, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

                The novus ordo changed this. The feast was moved to the last Sunday after Pentecost, at the end of the church year, and was recast as Jesus Christ King of the Universe, and to emphasise the shift from a temporal reign to an eschatological sense, the end of times, by making the feast a solemnity.

                The RCL and its various wannbes versions have followed suit, as usual.

                There is no such thing as the Social Reign of Christ, except as an excuse for the the social reign of the RCC.

                • “And where was this in the previous, by the RCC’s count 1925, years of the church’s existence?”

                  Being lived out in and by however many Catholic Confessional States existed for the sixteen hundred or so years from the time the Roman Empire made Christianity the State religion to the present situation, where only one or two States confess the Catholic religion. Legitimate doctrinal development is the making explicit of what was previously only implicit, and Quas Primas is one of many such explications throughout the Church’s history.

                  Christ is God, and God’s Kingdom is three-fold: The Kingdom of nature, of grace, and of glory. To say that God is King of nature is to say that He gives things their respective natures and directs them towards their respective ends by means suitable to each, and it is the natural law by which He directs humans towards their natural end. So He is the Legislator of the natural law and the Author and source of authority of every natural institution. Hence Christ is (objectively) King of each and every family, each and every State, and the whole human race (regardless of whether they subjectively acknowledge and honour this Kingship). So to say that

                  “There is no such thing as the Social Reign of Christ”

                  would seem to be to deny at least one of the following:

                  1. That Christ is God.
                  2. That He imposed the natural law and that all authority comes from Him.
                  3. That the State is an institution of the natural law.

                  As for the post-Conciliar subversion of the Feast of Christ the King: I’m well aware of all that, with one exception: What is the RCL?

                  • Past Elder / Terry Maher

                    Judas H Priest at chapter.

                    Natural Law does not contain Revelation, or more exactly, does not contain all of Revelation. That Christ, or let’s back up a bit, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Christ is God, that the Christ is Saviour in the sense of forgiveness of sins allowing eternal life rather than damnation, is all in Christian Revelation, not Natural Law, and, though it contradicts neither, is undiscoverable by either Reason or Natural Law.

                    To impose the Roman Catholic Church as the state church on the basis of the “social reign of Christ” is utterly foreign to Natural Law, despite its advantages to the Roman Catholic Church.

                    RCL stands for Revised Common Lectionary, begins with the miserable rotten stinking novus ordo lectionary, a Protestant revision of which was released in 1983 as the Common Lectionary. In 1994, the Consultation on Common Texts, which included representatives both RC and from all “mainline” non-RC Western churches, released the Revised Common Lectionary. It is used either as is or with further revisions by pretty much all Christian Western English speaking churches that bother with a lectionary at all, including, unfortunately, us (LCMS).

                  • “Christ reigns”. That is clear. “Jesus is Lord” means that Ceasar is not.

                    My main problem with your theology, Your Eminence – and in fact PE’s as well -, is that both of you have an insufficiently eschatological view of the reign of Christ. Christ reigns over the New Creation, his Kingdom is “coming”, we await his glorious appearance (as St Paul says). All kingdoms of this world thereby have been read their eviction notices – including, if I may so point out, any Catholic Confessional State that may yet exist. No Catholic Confessional State (if such a thing still exists) is synonymous with “the Social Reign of Christ”. To say that “Christ is Lord” means also that any Catholic Head of State is not. PE is at least correct in saying that the Natural Law does not contain the fullness of Revelation. Christian Revelation tells us that there are “kingdoms of this age” and the “Kingdom which is to come”. Christ’s reing is the latter: but not in the sense that it is absent from the here and now. Wherever the reign of Christ enters into the social reality in which we now live, we can see this as an advance sign (and only a sign – it is a pointer, not the thing itself) of the Kingdom which is coming.

                    • Past Elder / Terry Maher

                      Are you bagging me?

                      Insufficiently eschatological? Flaming end of times Judas, how does my citation of “my kingdom is not of this world” therefore none of the present “kingdoms” are his, and of the RCC’s recent move to locate lordship of Christ over all creation rather than kingdoms of earth, become insufficiently eschatological, when I am saying his kingship is entirely eschatological?

                      Actually, I know: if a person doesn’t end up fawning all over The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church, he’s wrong somewhere and can’t have said the right thing.

                      That’s the one thing that really didn’t change about the RC religion at Vatican II: it is still only and entirely about itself, and is about God and Christ only insofar as it finds these things to be itself.

  6. PM

    I think you’ll find Vittoria and Las Casas – Dominicans and Thomists – beat the evangelicals to the anti-slavery cause by a few centuries.

  7. Peregrinus

    There were Rationalists and Christians on both sides of the slavery debate – Shama’s point is that it was the Christian rhetoric against slavery that carried the day, not the Rationalist rhetoric.

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that this took the combination of Christianity and ethical rationalism to overcome the institutions of slavery in the US? Neither could manage it alone.

    And, of course, Schama is just looking at the US. We can look at other countries where slavery was abolished, either before or after the US. Evangelical Christianity certainly had an honorable role in the abolition of the slave trade, and eventually slavery, in British possessions. In France, however, abolition must be credited to the Revolution, which was certainly more rationalist than Christian. And French ideas on this subject, as on many others, were implemented across much of Europe by Napoleon who, again, was not an especially Christian figure. Serfdom was abolished in Russia as a “modernizing” measure; I don’t think Christianity had a lot to do with it. Slavery wasn’t abolished in Brazil until very late in the nineteenth century; I think the force at work there was neither Christianity nor rationalism but simply international opprobrium.

    Not to be inflammatory, or anything, but can anyone think of a Catholic country in which religious voices took a leading role in a successful abolition movement?

  8. “Natural Law … does not contain all of Revelation.”

    True.

    “That Christ, or let’s back up a bit, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Christ is God, that the Christ is Saviour in the sense of forgiveness of sins allowing eternal life rather than damnation, is all in Christian Revelation, not Natural Law …”

    True.

    “… and, though it contradicts neither, is undiscoverable by either Reason or Natural Law.”

    True.

    “To impose the Roman Catholic Church as the state church on the basis of the “social reign of Christ” is utterly foreign to Natural Law”

    False. There are two points to keep in mind here:

    1. The natural law commands us to believe whatever God might deign to reveal to us.
    2. The natural law commands that everyone in a society (here, we are of course dealing with civic society, the State) worship God in accordance with right reason and that everyone as a society worship God in accordance with right reason. In short, the natural law commands us to worship God both individually and collectively/corporately/socially. (In an unevangelised society, the State is the competent authority for prescribing the manner in which this corporate worship is to be performed; in the evangelised society, the Church is the competent authority.)

    So when God assumes a human nature, founds His Church as the historical continuation of His Incarnation, and announces all this to us, then the State is indeed obligated, by natural law, to legislate to make this revealed religion the State religion, to make this Church the established Church, and to repress, where prudent, whoever commits offences against this religion.

    Thank you for that information about the R.C.L.

  9. “My main problem with your theology, Your Eminence – and in fact PE’s as well -, is that both of you have an insufficiently eschatological view of the reign of Christ.”

    Mr. Schütz, PE and I are talking about Christ’s Kingship over nature. As I said, Christ’s Kingship is three-fold: A Kingship of nature, of grace, and of glory, and eschatology pertains to the Kingdom of glory, not the Kingdom of nature (except insofar as that the Second Coming will mean the end of the Kingdom of nature as we know it, but obviously that’s not relevant to the discussion of the Kingdom of nature as we do now know it). So to say that I am insufficiently eschatological in my perspective is unfair.

    “Christ reigns over the New Creation, his Kingdom is “coming”, we await his glorious appearance (as St Paul says).”

    True, true and true–but there’s that word “glorious”, which confirms what I said earlier about eschatology pertaining to the Kingdom of glory, which is not of concern here.

    “All kingdoms of this world thereby have been read their eviction notices”

    True, to the extent that at the end of time God will no longer rule through fathers (in the society of the family), through heads of State (in civic society), and Popes (in the society of the Church), but will, rather, rule in person (I’ve got that right, haven’t I?). But irrelevant to the extent that those eviction notices have not yet come into effect!

    “No Catholic Confessional State … is synonymous with “the Social Reign of Christ”.”

    True in the sense that the Social Reign of Christ involves lower-level societies too–every lawfully-constituted society has Christ as its King–but nevertheless, the Social Reign of Christ is (subjectively) incomplete without it (the Confessional State).

    “Christian Revelation tells us that there are “kingdoms of this age” and the “Kingdom which is to come”.”

    And the kingdoms of this age were the ones on which PE and I were focussed.

    “Christ’s reing is the latter: but not in the sense that it is absent from the here and now. Wherever the reign of Christ enters into the social reality in which we now live, we can see this as an advance sign (and only a sign – it is a pointer, not the thing itself) of the Kingdom which is coming.”

    But, again, the Kingdom which is coming is the Kingdom of glory, with which I have not dealt (except to mention it) in my comments to PE. I would expect that PE and I would be in agreement as to what the Kingdom of glory involves, but we disagree, of course, as to what the Kingdom of nature involves.

  10. (Back on Monday night, Australian time.)

  11. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    For the record, and for clarity’s sake, let me say, “Cardinal Pole” has articulated in his comment just above exactly the traditional Catholic teaching re the proper relationship of church and state.

    I am not at all saying I agree with it, though I once did, but I am saying it is what it is, and that is traditional Catholic thinking on the subject.

    The conciliar church has rather backed away from this, and re-oriented it toward a more “glory”, universal, eschatological emphasis, not that that wasn’t there before, it was, but it was not predominate as it is now.

    And I would add that while this is not then a new teaching in that its elements did notexist before, it is a new teaching in the sense of the whole which these same elements form, which rejects the whole these same elements previously formed.

    And so I am in an all-to-familiar position here, speaking of a pre- and post-conciliar RCC, neither of which I presently believe, however as a former believer in the pre-conciliar RCC, I recognise in, for example here, what “Cardinal Pole” is saying is authentically Catholic, whereas what is promoted on this blog as Catholic is not but a recent substitution.

    IOW what “Cardinal Pole” says it flat wrong and contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s church, but at least it is Catholic, whereas the current “Catholicism” remains contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s church and isn’t even Catholic.

    And the only thing that can make it so, make a thing and a different thing the same thing, is if one makes the RCC one’s functional god whatever one may say liturgically, therefore its varied “Catholicism” is one thing simply because it emanates from one source, the RCC, which says it is the same. In short, everything always boils down to The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church, the true church because the true church which is itself of course says so.

    This may work for utter idiots like Newman who need some deus-ex-machina, or rather ecclesia-ex-machina, to resolve their self-constructed and self-imposed difficulties, or those of essentially Protestant belief who cannot find in Protestantism a sufficient supply of cultural accoutrement, or apostate Catholics eager to find a new interface with a world they no longer control through such as we have been discussing.

    • IOW what “Cardinal Pole” says it flat wrong and contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s church, but at least it is Catholic, whereas the current “Catholicism” remains contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s church and isn’t even Catholic.

      So:

      1) What was THEN was “Catholic” but “contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s Church”
      2) What is NOW “isn’t even Catholic” and is still “contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s Church”

      So, I have a question. Is there anything in the NOW of the ecclesiastical body to which I belong which you would recognise as being LESS “contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s Church” EVEN THOUGH it “isn’t even Catholic”? In other words, can you see any part of the faith of my ecclesiastical community NOW as being more faithful to “the Gospel and Christ’s Church” NOW than it was THEN?

    • “what “Cardinal Pole” says it flat wrong and contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s church, but at least it is Catholic”

      I have shown that the Social Reign of Christ is not “flat wrong” by natural-law reasoning. Now can you show how it is “contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s church”?

      • Past Elder / Terry Maher

        False.

        “So when God assumes a human nature, founds His Church as the historical continuation of His Incarnation, and announces all this to us, then the State is indeed obligated, by natural law, to legislate to make this revealed religion the State religion, to make this Church the established Church, and to repress, where prudent, whoever commits offences against this religion.”

        To accept the “so when” part, on which the rest depends, is entirely outside of following Natural Law, it is rather So when one accepts Christian Revelation, and in fact, more specific than that, when one accepts the Roman Catholic version of Christian Revelation, your “then” follows. However, since accepting Christian Revelation in any version, including Concordia, is not from Natural Law but by faith which is the gift of God, it is false to say the Social Reign of Christ is established by Natural Law reasoning. QED.

        There is no point in taking the next step, when this step is not clear.

        • “To accept the “so when” part, on which the rest depends, is entirely outside of following Natural Law”

          No, not entirely; as I said, the natural law commands us to believe/accept whatever God deigns to reveal to us. The content–“God assumes a human nature [and] founds His Church as the historical continuation of His Incarnation”–of the command cannot be known by unaided reason, but the fact that the relevant command would exist can. In other words, the command’s matter is not of natural law, but its efficiency is.

          “So when one accepts Christian Revelation, and in fact, more specific than that, when one accepts the Roman Catholic version of Christian Revelation, [my] “then” follows.”

          True, but that needlessly omits mentioning that that acceptance is natural-law obligatory.

          “However, since accepting Christian Revelation in any version, including Concordia, is not from Natural Law but by faith which is the gift of God, it is false to say the Social Reign of Christ is established by Natural Law reasoning.”

          Yet the person to whom the Gospel has been adequately announced yet formally rejects it sins against both natural law and Divine positive law. What you have written here is no disproof of my case for the natural-law obligation requiring societies to which the Gospel has been announced to make Christianity the State religion etc.

  12. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    To answer your IOW form of the question in one word — no. Your original form of the question displays the problem.

    If it were so that the the NOW of the RCC is less contradictory to the Gospel and Christ’s Church and at the same time not Catholic, or even just less Catholic than it was THEN, then that invalidates the RCC for both THEN and NOW.

    Why is that? Because only a Protestant, not a Catholic, thinks in these terms, and that is exactly what Catholicism has become since Vatican II, a form of Protestantism unavailable in Protestantism per se that still allows for the Catholic semblance of institutional and cultural continuity but without the Catholic roots from which that semblance grew, or more colloquially, you can now be Protestant and still have a Pope.

    The idea that the Holy Spirit has brought the church out of a long period of relative darkness back to, or much closer to, its true self is an entirely Protestant idea. And, that is precisely the idea common to all postconciliar Catholicism, different only in degree.

    There is no essential difference between, say, you and Hans; the Church has emerged from a period which though it had some good, it bloody well needed to emerge due to its bad so that the good may be even better. The difference is only in what ways and to what extent this happens.

    For the Catholic the Holy Spirit works in no such way. Even if a Catholic uses the phrase semper reformanda — which is of neither Catholic nor Lutheran origin but “Second Reformation”, Calvinist — it is not at all in the sense they use it.

    The Church does not go into periods of relative darkness, to emerge centuries later through scholarship closer to the “early” or “Patristic” church. The Holy Spirit moves upward and forward, not circular. As it moves to the end times, the Church in its later years need nor ought not resemble its earlier years any more than any other living body, say a man, will resemble in his middle or late years his infancy or childhood, yet he is in no way not the same person because of this.

    The utter nonsense of an Ordinary and an Extraordinary Form, which are nothing more than a new and an older, form of the Roman Rite is exactly such a case. For if the novus ordo is what it claims to be, then the Tridentine Rite in fact should be left to history as one does not wear boys’ sizes as an adult; the Holy Spirit has led the Church beyond it into better ground from which movement there should be and can be no retreat. But if the Tridentine Rite is what is claims to be, it has erected safeguards that later threats to the faith called forth, which does not set a rite in stone forever more but which does not become something from which the Church is purified but remain the basis for ongoing growth.

    It does not happen that what was the action of the Holy Spirit in one age is the bad old days of the action of the Holy Spirit in another. To put it back in the terms above, if there is anything at all to the RCC, the Holy Spirit would never lead the Church into becoming less Catholic, because the Holy Spirit led the Church into becoming precisely what becoming less Catholic discards.

    That is what, in Catholicism, the Catholic Church is, and to become less Catholic is precisely to become less faithful to the Gospel and Christ’s Church, which is the Catholic Church and the Holy Spirit does not lead it into anything less faithful to Christ’s Church; they are one and the same.

    You have simply found a way — you being the RCC — to be Protestant while looking Catholic. The real Reformation, or its real fruit, was Vatican II, which has created a Protestant church in which you can be Catholic now. Unfortunately, it is not a Catholic Church in which one can be Catholic now, by that very metamorphosis, which is false to both Catholicism and Protestantism.

    Which for many years, thinking everything was Catholic or Protestant, appeared to me to leave nowhere to go, since it meant any form of Christianity is false. Thanks be to the grace of God for discovering the Lutheran Reformation was neither Catholic nor Protestant, but catholic, and I suffer any amount of praise bands, Ablaze! and other nonsense borrowed from Protestantism and marketing displacing the catholic church rather than a Protestant/Catholic hybrid that not only displaces both but replaces it with something claimed to be Catholic Church.

  13. Oh, and our friends at Catholica helpfully remind us that the Roman Empire was not the first Catholic Confessional State:

    “An extraordinary Christian called Gregory (known as the Enlightener or Illuminator) stepped into the breach and filled the vacuum. Like many of the saints of this period his life has been seriously obscured with fabulous legend. He is supposed to have been the son of a Parthian who had murdered King Khosrov I of Armenia. The baby Gregory was taken to Caesarea in Cappadocia where he was baptized and brought up. He married there and had two sons before returning to Armenia where he succeeded in converting King Tiridates III to Christianity at about the same time as the victory over the Persians; this after fourteen years of incarceration in a pit, presumably at the hands of the Zoroastrians, who were opposed to his mission. Having been consecrated as a bishop at Caesarea, Gregory spent the remainder of his life preaching and organizing the church in Armenia. Tiridates III helpfully destroyed the Zoroastrian sanctuary at Ashtishat that had been built on a pagan foundation, and erected a church in its place. He decreed Christianity the official religion of his country, the first ruler in the world to do so.”
    [http://www.catholica.com.au/specials/first500-2/057_tl_080609.php]

    • Past Elder / Terry Maher

      Holy crap, old Tiri had his problems. Three Greg-boy in a ruddy pit, then a woman gets to him, a bloody nun on the run from Diocletian (from whom we get the word diocese) Tiri wants her bad but she ain’y having none of it, so he kills the lot of them then goes nuts until they drag old Greg out the pit and he all of a sudden recovers. Has Dan Brown heard of this? Maybe he wrote it.

      • Past Elder / Terry Maher

        Sorry about the typos. Gotta go have dinner. Faith based on this sort of dime novel nonsense is what is really nuts.

  14. Christine

    Cardinal Pole, good points about the Church of Armenia. The Armenian people have suffered much, especially under the genocide of 1915 which is still denied in some quarters. One of their noteworthy sons is the actor Mike Connors, born Krekor Ohanian who starred in the detective series “Mannix” in the late 60’s.

    The following link gives more information about the Church of Armenia, a proud and noble people:

    http://www.armenianchurch.net/heritage/index.html

    Of course there are other notable Middle Eastern Christians such as the Maronite Catholic Danny Thomas whose legacy it is not necessary to spell out.

    God bless them all.

    Christine