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The Dark Side of Christian History Paperback – 3 Feb 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Morningstar Books (3 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964487349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964487345
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 375,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Publisher

Back Cover Text:

"This is simply a book that everyone must sit down and read. At a time when the so called 'religious right' asserts that Christian values will save society from its rampant sins, the ordinary citizen should know exactly how the Christian Church has attempted to 'save' societies in the past. It is a grim lesson, but one that it is imperative to absorb. Doing so could save lives." -- Alice Walker

"In a lucid, objective, and accessible style, Helen Ellerbe presents some of the long-hidden shameful secrets of organized patriarchal religion. Her book is a fascinating read, essential for a complete picture of the cultural evolution of Western civilization." -- Barbara G. Walker

"If embracing the shadow is essential to healing the spirit, confronting The Dark Side of Christian History may help us to purge Christianity of its demonic elements and allow us to hear the good news once again." -- Sam Keen

By denying evil we do harm. By denying darkness we obscure the light. Over a period of almost two millennia, the Christian Church has oppressed and brutalized millions of individuals in an attempt to control and contain spirituality. The Dark Side of Christian History reveals in painstaking detail the tragedies, sorrows and injustices inflicted upon humanity by the Church. This expose is a compelling and passionate cry for human dignity and spiritual freedom.

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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Jun. 1998
Format: Paperback
Though the author of The Dark Side of Christian History makes some efforts towards being unbiased, she does not fully achieve this goal. However, as she does her research and is dealing with terribly unpleasant subjects, I think it can be understood.
This is not a pretty book, but it is a coherent one. Each chapter is an essay on a different time in Christianity, how it evolved, and its affects on Western (and other) civilizations. A consistent history is shown from the early days of Roman Christiandom to current attitudes that is informative and unsettling. Quite simply, current problems and attitudes today can be traced back hundreds, or even thousands of years, and the history of the Church is not as simple as some make it sound.
Quotes from various sources paint the picture reasonably well, though this book could have easily been twice its size. If read with an open, critical mind, you'll find flaws, but you WON'T be the same. It's an excellent jumping-off point to study the parts of Church history people don't want to talk about.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Derek Smith on 20 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
An excellently researched book with ten pages of references and four of bibliography. It reveals a history of how various churches purporting to follow Christ have distorted his message, and committed hideous crimes for their own ends.

Ellerbe writes from a female point of view but that's not to criticse the book. She mentions that chloroform to ease labour pains is, according to the church:

. . . a decoy of satan [which will] rob god of the deep earnest cries which arise in time of trouble . . .

Nice.

The book reinforces its view all the way through. For instance, we all know of the Leviticus 25:44-46 ode to slavery, particularly the entreaty to enslave children of 'strangers' and Ellerbe quotes it but then goes on to mention St Paul's thought on the matter (Ephesians 6:5, I Timothy 6:1, and Titus 2:9-10). If that wasn't overwhelming enough then there is a quote from St. John Chrysostom - the slave should be resigned to his lot - and good old St Augustine, an inexhaustable sour of the outrageous, who says that slavery perserves 'the natural order and forbids disturbance.'

This is typical of the points she makes. Reinforced and then reinforced again.

The title is The Dark Side so anyone looking for a balanced view might as well go to a Sunday service. But it does what it says it will do.

At the present time, February 2012, we have had an islamic baroness telling those of us in England that churches should have a greater say in our lives for reasons of morality. Yet this book exposes the racialist and sexist nature of the church throughout its history, or at least from its reinvention at Nicea. Morals have, rather obviously, moved on.

Nothing in the book attacks the teachings of Jesus. Far from it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barry Ryder on 18 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This great book won't contain very much that those interested in Christian history don't already know, in fact, it won't contain anything that that your local vicar or priest doesn't already know!

Christian history does have a very 'dark side' indeed. It's not something that the Church likes to acknowledge - after all, to do so would mean that the vast majority of the earliest church leaders, archbishops, cardinals and popes, were all very wrong in the things that they said, did, sanctioned, ordered and allowed. That would never do, would it?

The author's anger and exasperation often seeps through into the writing, but that's fine by me. She (and we) have much to be angry about.

The book moves chronologically through history and the nine chapters deal with all the dirty laundry that Christianity had and still has.

From the earliest political manoeuvring (making Christianity palatable to the Romans), the author examines, Deciding On Doctrine, The Dark Ages, The Middle Ages, The Inquisition and Slavery, The Reformation and the witch hunts.

The history exposed in this book is a long way removed from the Sunday jumble-sale with tea made by the vicar's wife; this is about people being persecuted, subdued, robbed, tortured and murdered. And, because all of that was done in the past by Christianity, your local vicar will be able to have another jumble sale in the future.

Good book!

Barry
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58 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Oct. 1998
Format: Paperback
Occasionally, a book comes along which belongs in every Pagan's personal library, but if it were up to me "The Dark Side of Christian History" would be required reading for the general population as well. Author, Helen Ellerbe, has written precisely the book I've been waiting for, and in fact would like to have written myself. While others before her have covered one or two of Christianity's more shameful exploits in a given volume, she has gathered together in one work, a definitive chronicle of events from each period from 100ce to the present day. She explains the evolution of the Christian world view and how this doctrine manifested itself in church policy, driving every aspect of its behavior. By viewing each step of this process in sequence, we see that the episodes of tyranny and oppression were not mere isolated incidents in an otherwise distinguished career of benevolence, but rather they were part of an ongoing process whereby each and every obstacle to hegemony was systematically subjugated, subdued, subverted and destroyed. In the chapter concerning modern times, entitled "A World Without God", Ellerbe demonstrates that while the power of the church is mostly gone, the effects of its doctrine in the form of a persistent world view are with us still. Western attitudes toward gender, race, sexuality and the environment have all been shaped by that doctrine created by the evolving church in its effort to impose rigid hierarchy on the entire world and everything in it.Read more ›
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