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How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization
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About the Author
Thomas E. Woods, Jr. holds a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard, and his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. A senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, he is the author of eleven books, including the New York Times bestsellers Meltdown, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. Woods won the $50,000 first prize in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards for his book The Church and the Market. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Topeka, Kansas. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Non catholics, particularly in the English speaking / north European sphere tend to have extremely negative views of the impact of the Catholic church on the world.
Of course once that remarkable chap Martin Luther (even though a catholic himself) somehow singlehandedly rediscovered "true Christianity" - which apparently had gone missing for a thousand years during the reign of the whore of Babylon - it was necessary for protestant historians to clarify just how bad the Ho of Bab had been. This is actually quite a feat of imagination since in that period the Ho had reconstructed and improved the roman empire while civilising hoards of large hairy blood thirsty savages who had knocked down said empire originally. But they (the protestant propagandists posing as historians) beavered away really really hard at it. (Gibbon et al)
Then those "enlightenment" chappies got stuck in as well. "What a wonderful wheeze" they thought, " if we sort of massage the back story for islam (tolerant multicultural golden age al adalus, the noble saladin Nathan the wise etc etc etc meh) so as to use it as a metaphorical club with which to beat the Christian church of the time. Oh how they must have laughed. ho ho. That particular whopper is coming back to bite us BIG time now. hey ho. But there again that's the trouble with lies.
Pretty soon any educated English speaking / Northern European just took it for read that catholic = spawn of satan. Which is still held to be the case even by many atheists (wild huh?)
Fortunately other atheists just don't give a flip about any religion and lots of standard bosh of all sorts is being chucked out and historical sources are being looked at again through neutral eyes.
Whaddya know? when you look at the history of Europe and of the West turns out that its actually only what it is because it was previously known as Christendom. Values which are now thought to be universal, eg human rights, arose directly from Christian thinking etc
Anyhow if you are open minded and want to get a handle on why the west is the west then you need to read this.
Certainly the Catholic church has made and does make spectacular mistakes but what do you expect from the longest continuous human institution in history? two thousand years is a very long time and naturally there have been many scoundrels as well as many heroes. Obviously. DOH
open your mind.
Author Thomas Woods, Jr. states that one of his intentions is to remedy the generally pervasive attitude toward the Roman Catholic Church these days in historical studies which is either negative or lacking in reference altogether. There are history books (quite often those used by the public school system) that try to downplay the role of the church in Western history or eliminate it altogether. In part this is due to church/state issues and fears on the part of textbook buyers; in part it is also anti-Catholic bias in society that pops up in different ways.
I do have a few quibbles with the book. In trying to combat the negativity of much of the tone of the history of the Catholic Church, Woods goes a bit too far in the other direction at times. This is a balancing book, but it is not a balanced book - it is the argument in favour, and as such, overlooks at times the very real responsibility the church had in certain historical situations. Woods minimises where other histories tend to overplay, and neither stance is the best to take in interpretations. However, this is not a fatal flaw in Woods' narrative, it is the case that history built upon facts, and Woods doesn't play fast and loose with the facts.
Woods primary intention does work fairly well - to give credit where credit is due, and much credit is due to the church for its influence in government, art, culture, education, and even in areas such as science (where the church is often most heavily criticised). Law in both the domestic and international sense owes much to the church, as does the idea of community charity, education, and civic engagement. Perhaps the most surprising chapter to me was the one on the church and economics, which introduced the idea of currency exchange and inflation being described in the literature of the Scholastics.
There is a good index, a good collection of notes, and the style is written in a manner that is both accessible to the general reader yet interesting to those looking for something with substance. Overall, this is a reasonable response to the general negative tone in other texts. The importance of the church in Western history should not be denied, and Woods' book helps bring that to life.
This book, albeit I pretend more detail for my personal knowledge, is an absolute historical eye-opener on the contribution of the supposedly ignorant, deficient, and oppressive Roman Catholic Church to Europe and Western Civilization.
Buy it, and judge for yourself. You'd be surprised how much rubbish you've been manipulated with in relation to the Holy Church.
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Most recent customer reviews
It did not disappoint!
I look forward to rereading it.
It gives a fascinating view of history - one that I did not have.