Saturday, February 27, 2010

40 Days of Lent: Day Eleven

A History of Christianity - Episode Two: Catholicism

If the first episode was history of Christianity as travelogue, then Diarmaid MacCulloch traces the rise to power of the Roman Catholic Church in the second episode by touring a number of great cathedrals.

It still seems incredible that what began as a small Jewish sect would ultimately become a world powerhouse religion. It did this becoming adopted by the powerful, most famously by the general Constantine “as he hacked his way to power” and established a Roman empire, and later by the aristocracy as that empire began to fall. Men of privilege, power and wealth kept all three by becoming high ranking members of the church when they began to lose political power.

When he became emperor in 306, Constantine made Christianity the state religion, focusing on St. Peter, perhaps because Christ says that Peter is “the rock on which I will build my church.” In Greek “Peter” means “rock” so it’s one of Christ’s rare play on words. “The power of Christian Rome” notes MacCulloch “founded on a Greek pun.” If this is true, then personally, I love it.

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