Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

In How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, historian Thomas Woods presents much fascinating information concerning the development of Western Civilization and the role that the Catholic Church played in that development. Much of this information is largely unknown to the public, and Woods' book can help to correct this problem.

The book covers the years 500 to 1600, though it occasionally extends outside of this period on both ends. Woods particularly seeks to debunk the myth of the middle ages as"dark ages." They were not a time of backwardness and ignorance; some significant advances were made.

The book explores the contributions of the monastery system. The Church invented the university system out of a respect for knowledge. Far from being an enemy of science, Christianity actually invented science. Woods explores how Christian theology made this possible.

The Church also invented the modern notion of charity, made huge contributions to art and architecture, invented and concept of international law, and made significant contributions to economics.

There are a couple aspects of the book that readers may wish to know. Woods is a devout Roman Catholic, and he takes the Catholic positions on several theological issues that divide Catholics and Protestants. He is also a strict noninterventionist, which he alludes to several times. These issues only affect a few pages of the book.

Beyond the Catholic Church, Woods' work serves as a celebration and defense of Western Civilization. For most of the period covered, the Catholic Church was practically synonymous with Christianity. Thus Woods shows how Christianity was indispensable to creating and building the West.

Reading this book shows how unique and precious Western Civilization is, and now much would be lost if it were overrun. It should inspire a renewed defense of the West.

No comments: