Lately there been a couple of articles on the lengths that text book publishers have been going to sanitize history and to put in politically correct pictures and to eliminate anything that could cause offense. I now realize that this is not anything new at all The effort has become more comical, but our text books have long been perverting history or presenting it from a specific view point.
Since my initial conversion I have been reading a lot deeper into history. I am not any kind of scholar, yet what I have found out has made me feel like Neo from the movie Matrix. What I had been taught in pubwick skool about human history and the progress of it to modern times was a totally simulated reality devoid of any connection to the real world and the development of historical events. The total lack of information on the Church would be somewhat akin to someone writing a history book on the last century and not mentioning the United States at all.
The only mention of the Catholic Church in history was always negative. That the church worked to stomp out scientific progress -Galileo. Never a mention of the fact of the many scientists that were in fact lay or ordained Catholics. I learned about genetics and Gregory Mendel, but no mention of the fact that he was a monk and did his experiments in the pea garden at his monastery. No mention that both the University and the Hospital were Catholic developments. No mention of the monasteries that through their painstaking duplication of ancient writings that we even now have them to this day.
Initially when public education came about in the United States it had a very Protestant view point so it is no surprise that the the Inquisition and the crusades were put in the most negative light. But even these events had already been taken out of text book when I went to school back in the 70s. All that I knew about these events were mainly from Monty Python movies and Mel Brooks “The History of the World Part 1.”
Church history is much like Old Testament Church history – we sin, we fall away, we repent, we sin, we fall away, we repent, we sin, we fall away, we repent – well you get the idea. This cycle has been repeated countless times and will continue to the end of the world. Christ has guided his Church through history, so even with the mistakes and the stunning lack of prudence that has occurred at times from members of his Church – Western Civilization is very much a byproduct of the Church.
I was surprised to find out how much the Church was involved in the various kingdoms by mediating disputes and speaking out against injustices. The prayers and example of the various saints that has indeed changed history. The efforts of the Church and it’s members through what became the Magna Carta and developed into representative government as we know it now.
Hardly any of the Church’s influence whether good or bad has made it into modern text books. History has been presented only as some key individuals influencing events either through political means or through science. The philosophical beliefs and reasons of these people have been omitted and everything has been replaced by a meaningless concept of an unmeasurable progress.
I have no idea how we could change this trend. Our pluralistic government schools will go on working either to present their secular view of history or will change things to avoid law suits or the ultimate human crime of someone possibly being offended. A good start would be that we as parents teach the truth and hopefully also that our Catholic Schools and Universities would also do likewise- wrinkles and all.
“Ever since the Reformation, the attack on the Faith has been principally conducted on the field of history…The time has come for us to take the counter-offensive; for, with the expansion of historical knowledge, history is now with us. Truth confirms truth.” — Hilaire Belloc
“An institute run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight.” — Hilaire Belloc
It was my independant study of history that dragged me into the church. Who was it that said, “To be steeped in history is to cease to be a protestant.”? – The book Catholic Home Schooling offers an excellent view of how the schools (secular, sectarian, and even Catholic) often distory the history of the CHurch and her real accomplishments.
I have had a very similar experience! It seems like every time I get around to reading something about history, I find out more about God’s working in the world and am further convinced of the utter inadequacy of the history we are all taught in schools today — and I went only to Parochial schools (Episcopal and Catholic)!
“atheist to theist” an interesting title, an amazing conversion. 🙂 tag you’re it. heh
The problem is that we, as Catholics, always presuppose that truth will reveal itself and so do nothing to help reveal it, while our opponents are working very hard to uphold the many lies and to obfuscate/obliterate the truth.
It’s going to be hard to put the Inquisition in a positive light. Maybe you could try “we were just trying to get the Jews to stretch a little”. I agree that public schools have become secular repositories of political correctness. We must teach our children all the facts truthfully.
Larry, here is the perfect example of the distortion of history.
I wouldn’t defend every act of the various Inquisitions, since whenever people are involved in anything there is going to be sin involved. But we don’t trash the institution of the police because there have been corrupt policemen.
The Inquisition is a broad word meaning Church courts, but most people think specifically about the Spanish Inquistion. This inquistion was used to identify conversos -Jews and Moors (Muslims) who pretended to convert to Christianity for purposes of political or social advantage and secretly practiced their former religion. This inquisition did not try anybody who was a openly practicing Jew or Muslem, but only those false converts. The number of people tried and executed has also been exagerated. In fact when people were arresting by government courts they would ask to be tried by the inquisition instead since it was much fairer.
Part of the process of the inquisition was that when someone was charged as being a conversos, the person charged was told to write up a list of enemies, if the names of the person or people who made the charge were on this list then the person was released. The death penalty required that two courts be held and that they both had to agree, then they would turn them over to the state.
One of the interesting facts about the Spanish Inquistion is that Tomas de Torquemada was a reformer and that he curbed many of the abuses of his predecessors – a fact totally changed by perception of modern history.
This was a time in Spain during the reconquest of the Muslim invaded territories (Muslims had held parts of Spain for 700 years). There had been massive slaughter by Muslims on whole towns in retribution, so people who were in the government who secretly sided with these groups were in fact traitors working for the other side. Even in modern times traitors are executed when they commit acts of treason.
For other reading on the inquisition check this paper from the Catholic League:
this is dumb