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May 28th - Lecture #7.doc

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Adam Lehto

May 28 th RLG203 Lecture #7 Shaping Society and Culture Part 2?3: the Medieval West - centuries after the development and formation of ancient churches of early lectures - initially, the center of gravity for Christianity was in the eastern part of the Roman world o where the big cities were, where the universities were o church more in touch with the classic legacy of the ancient world o where there was a Byzantine empire - with the emergence of Islam, the process of shifting that center of gravity to the West began - Christians adapted themselves to the new situation – so that Arabic becomes one of the Christian language o was a Christian language long before Muhammad - but Christians in the Islam world found it hard to maintain the vitality of their religion - by about 1400 – end of the middle ages – very difficult to be Christian in the Muslim world o parallel with the experience of Jews in the Christian world o harder to be Jew in the Christian world than Christian in the Muslim world - the story of western Europe o western Europe gives birth to modernity – the modern experience o not suggesting that the world is western – but the changes in society that we devote the name modernity come from the Christian culture o the role that Christianity played in this long process - western Europe in the high middle ages – roughly 12 and 13 centuries – the high point in the influence of power from the churches of the west o if you make a projection from year 500 to modern day – the highest point of the parabola is the middle ages – about 1200  most direct control and influence over cultural and political affairs  **secularization – the marginalization of religion - the irony of the high middle ages is that even at the top of the arch, the very same time as the Roman church has put itself in the position that it control and influence society – political and cultural powers o there are processes going on for the marginalization of church – it’s loss of power o one of the paradoxes of the middle ages - it was the church that represented the prestige of the political world of the roman time - the worldview of the western church? world did in fact frame the feelings and actions of the medieval people - the barbarian rulers not only respected the church, but it came to be seen as the dispenser of salvation – power from God o place to get an afterlife o no question that the barbarians wanted the Christian God to give them success in the battlefield  very hard for the church to distance itself from that thinking  god is on the side of the winners – the crusaders o but, they also wanted to get into Christian heaven  hard to explain why people to thoroughly accept the meanings the church gave so that they invested in the Christian afterlife  Christianity came to become the gateway to heaven – why did they want to go to heaven? Why did they now believe in heaven? - heresy – relative term – depends on who is in power at the time o heresy in the middle ages – nothing new o always been differences in opinion on how to understand Christian life – how to interpret Christian beliefs o very difficult for Christian theologians to get over the tendency of saying ‘I have understood the revelation and you have a false set of beliefs (heresy) - the biggest challenge to the church’s authority was ….? - heresy – deviant forms of Christian belief o in the 1100 – heresy starts showing up – these people were not pagans o were not Jews th o in 11 century – appeared in Christian west  deliberately rejecting Christian authority  claimed that what they were doing was correct – they had the
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