For the past month or so, I’ve been working on a class on medieval Christianity and before that I was dealing with a full load of four courses. It was my intention to do a number of posts on various aspects of the medieval church, but recent events have caused me to change my plans.
Traditionalists and secular humanists may not see eye-to-eye on much, but both groups tend to agree that the era of Latin Christendom (also known as the Middle Ages or the medieval period) was an “Age of Faith,” when Western European politics and culture revolved around the Catholic Church. For traditionalists, Christendom was the high point of Western civilization, and we’ve being going downhill ever since, while secular humanists would see that same period as a time of stagnation, or “one thousand years without a bath,” as one wag put it. Both views are wrong for reasons that I’ve already articulated on this blog, but the widely held belief that the Middle Ages was an “Age of Faith” is also incorrect.
I haven’t been posting as much lately, what with the demands of graduate school and such, but occasionally a story happens that demands a response. No, it’s not about the Donald Trump Show, the ignominious return of the Duggars to television, the death of Mother Angelica, or whatever thing Pope Francis is doing. This story is much more important: Kathleen Battle is returning to the Metropolitan Opera:
Yesterday, I went to the Atlanta History Center to see the new “Atlanta in 50 Objects” exhibit. Most of the choices were predictable, but still interesting: a copy of “Gone With the Wind,” White and Colored signs from the Jim Crow era, the old school Pink Pig that used to be at the downtown Macy’s, MLK’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, funerary from Oakland Cemetery, etc. However, there was one entry that really surprised and interested me: the “pickrick” (i.e., axe handle turned club) that Lester Maddox used to chase black civil rights protesters away from his restaurant, the Pickrick Cafeteria:
In my continuing response to Msgr. Charles Pope’s piece about stagnating attendance numbers at Latin Masses (http://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/an-urgent-warning-about-the-future-of-the-traditional-latin-mass), I decided that it would be useful to examine what Latin Mass advocates do with their preferred liturgical form and what they hope to achieve by increasing the number of Latin Masses available to the public.
You may be aware of the recent scandal in which Wheaton College, supposedly the “evangelical Harvard,” fired a black female professor (the only one on the entire campus) for stating that Christians and Muslims worship the same god:
This post is not about this incident, which has been discussed in great detail elsewhere. Rather, I’m going to write about whether Catholics and Protestants worship the same god.
There’s an old movie of the “so bad it’s good” variety called The Thing With Two Heads (1972) that could be interpreted as a bizarro world allegory about American race relations. In this film, a rich, racist white man is dying of cancer and demands to have his head transplanted onto a healthy body. The doctors oblige, but the only body available is that of a wrongfully accused black death row convict. Hilarity ensues, and we have the perfect analogy of race in America: a two heads on a single body, constantly beating itself up:
Of course, race in America is more than black and white, so maybe a better analogy might be a hydra with self-destructive tendencies. Nonetheless, the thing with two heads is a good way of thinking of race in the South, which is still largely a black and white affair.