The Middle Ages: Age of Faith or Age of Meh?

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.

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What Do People Do With Religion

I often link to various reports done by the Pew Research Center about religion, because it’s a good place to get statistics about the state of belief in the United States and across the world. Yet, the questions that tend to be asked in the Pew studies tend to be those that are easily quantifiable or have easy yes/no answers: how often do you attend religious services, do you approve of same-sex marriage,  how often do you read the Bible, etc. As useful as these questions can be in assessing the role religion plays in modern life, they don’t give us much of a picture as to how religion actually functions in most people’s lives.

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