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 Post subject: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:00 pm 
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I recently got off to a slow start reading McSorley's History, but after getting used to the format in the first couple chapters I'm finding it harder and harder to put down. His writing seems very direct and clear, and I think he's doing a wonderful job, so far, of trying to be concise and objective, although sneak peeks to the back of the book suggest he expresses more emotional involvement in recent or current issues. Does anyone have this book and interest in discussing?
It's already raised a number of issues of issues for me, and I'm hoping members might comment if I post some of them, whether or not you've read this particular History.


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:50 am 
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eschator83 wrote:
I recently got off to a slow start reading McSorley's History, but after getting used to the format in the first couple chapters I'm finding it harder and harder to put down. His writing seems very direct and clear, and I think he's doing a wonderful job, so far, of trying to be concise and objective, although sneak peeks to the back of the book suggest he expresses more emotional involvement in recent or current issues. Does anyone have this book and interest in discussing?
It's already raised a number of issues of issues for me, and I'm hoping members might comment if I post some of them, whether or not you've read this particular History.


I'm almost certain I have the book (which tells anyone familiar with me where it is likely currently located), but have never read it. If any discussions appear here that intrigue me, it will go on the "gotta find it" list.

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:18 am 
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How bad is it that when I first saw "McSorley's" the only thing I thought of was a tall cold glass of beer? (and it's not even 10 AM). :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:59 am 
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Byblos wrote:
How bad is it that when I first saw "McSorley's" the only thing I thought of was a tall cold glass of beer? (and it's not even 10 AM). :oops:



It's what I thought the first time I saw the book.



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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:15 pm 
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My reading of McSorley got much more complicated when I stumbled almost randomly into Jacques Maritain's Philosophy of History online, which I was immediately drawn to start reading. I wish I could hear the two of them discuss the strategy and logic McSorley is following--sort of a mini Inklings meeting.
Maybe it's way past due to learn how to focus on just one book at a time.
Can anyone comment whether there are other histories better than McSorley's?


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:50 pm 
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My strong inclination is to think of History as akin to a science--focused on the objective questions who, what, where, and when, and leaving most if not all the why and how primarily to sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists. When theologians write history, things are different. I've read Eusebius, McBrien's Lives of the Popes, and most of Bokenkotter, but find myself topically oriented much more than chronologically. I wonder what others prefer.


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:25 pm 
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In sequential reading I've reached page 162 (of 1174pp.-- into the 6th century), although I've probably also read that much or more as I skip around looking for "the rest of the story." The book has a one century per chapter structure, which raises innumerable issues that you have to wait, so to speak, for 100 years or more to find the resolution.

I find myself wondering if the Jews, Romans, or barbarians ever seemed as much a threat to Christian civilization as we face today by communists, islamic jihadists, and self-centered agnostic progressivists. Every few years I struggle anew with Gibbons Rise and Fall of Rome, strongly curious about the facts but appalled and disgusted with his unrelenting atheistic neo-nihilism.

The early sections of McSorley are really just an outline, so brief as to make comparison quite difficult with McBrien's Lives of the Popes, or Eusebius' History, or Butler's Saints. These early centuries are averaging only about 25 pages each, which keeps me peeking ahead into later chapters with twice the discussion, and more. I'd like to find in another book more details of the structures and activities of the early Church. I'd be more interested in what specific documents and organizations are known to have existed, and more specifically what is known about them.

Anybody reading any Church history?


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2015 10:30 am 
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I've made it to p330 in McSorley (1100s) in sequence, plus about 1/2 the rest of the book by jumping about (which I don't recommend), and plan definitely to read it all. Fascinating, but difficult.
It's an enormously complex story of course, and even a big book like this must either present essentially just a brief outline or omit many important events. But after admitting that, I'm still disappointed that there is so little celebration of the contributions of the Church compared to discussion of problems and conflicts. Try to find mention of a miracle. It's much more enjoyable to read Lives of the Saints in Butler or Golden Legend or some other.
I've been jumping back and forth to Bokenkotter, but he seems much too politically biased to be credible. I recently finished Descartes' Method and also First Principles of Philos, which I thought were both very interesting and important. I'm now also struggling with Intro to Christianity by Benedict XVI. And am nearly midway through Enter St Anthony.
I tried Hegel to think further about Philosophy of History, but he's too arrogant to read very long.
I keep hoping someone will encourage me.


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2015 10:41 am 
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I concur with your judgment on Bokenkotter. The most important thing about Descartes is that he was deeply, terribly wrong, to the extent that he is in my top 5 list for "people who broke Western Civilization."

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:25 pm 
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Many thanks, Obi-Wan, for your comment. I'm very curious to know the other 4 on your list. Several years ago a blogger at another site asked if anyone could explain why Western culture has declined so dreadfully. For several months as I tried to compose an answer, I waited in vain to see if anyone would reply. I'm hoping McSorley will help me to understand, and to find hope in some cure less violent than Apocalypse.
I vividly imagine the 24-year old Descartes, passing the cold winter in a small military cabin, wrestling with some of the earliest printed books on matters like epistemology and science. He writes that abruptly he had a type of vision that all knowledge was somehow a unity. For years he tried to get his vision written--but stopped in 1628 when he learned of Galileo's imprisonment. It was published posthumously.
McSorley calls Descartes a sincere and well-intentioned Catholic. I think Descartes was being sarcastic about atheistic skeptics, but they have certainly dominated politics, philosophy, media, and education.
Wasn't Erasmus worse? Luther? Hobbes? Kant? Marx? Mills? Obama?
As I admitted in a prior post, I'm peeking ahead in McSorley to the 1500's. Will anyone out there help me?


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 2:19 pm 
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I'm not sure who all of the top 5 would be. William of Ockham is #1.

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 3:00 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I'm not sure who all of the top 5 would be. William of Ockham is #1.


The other 4 in the top 5 would be Descartes, Locke, Kant and Kierkegaard.

Descartes initiated the stratagem of methodological doubt, Locke introduced rationalism into Christianity so that only those doctrines which are 'reasonable' are valid, thereby eliminating all sense of mystery and restricting religion to what man can understand through pure logic. Kant then turned around and dismissed all attempted logical or rational proofs of religious doctrine as impossible, and Kierkegaard finished the job by declaring that doctrine is irrelevant, Christianity is inherently irrational and, therefore, the only thing one has to rely on is subjective religious experience, and Christianity is reduced to simply an expression of an emotional state.

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 2:35 pm 
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McSorley's structure of reporting by century in categories including saints, missions, writers, opposition, heresies, schism, etc sometimes results in a broad scattering of comments on an individual, group, or event among numerous categories and centuries. His good index is very helpful, but it takes work to glean the damage caused by such as Kant, Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, etc.
Of course, to Bokenkotter the only serious problem the Church has faced is the demonic suppression of "social Catholics" (read Catholic socialists) by demonic forces (traditionalist/conservative) starting aggressively at Trent.
I must mention that our friendly, peaceful moslem friends during the 13th century conquered most of Russia, India, China (they already had much of the mideast and Africa, and threatened Europe).
Do you think it more likely that much of our current leadership doesn't know history, or is so infatuated with universal power as not to worry about who'd be in charge and how they would govern? Do they think God was foolish in scattering humans, confounding their languages, even separating the land masses?


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:32 pm 
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My fascination with this book has progressed to the point that I'm reading at least a few pages every day. Because there are so many issues that are covered only briefly in any particular section, I've started a notebook as a reminder of the issues (many, many issues) I've resolved to read more about. Also, the notebook lets me copy highlights from the sections I've read and combine with them with related comments in other sections referenced in the index.
It's a struggle to try to remain open-minded and avoid posting premature judgements about many McSorley comments. Most frequently I'm frustrated that he doesn't say more about topics I consider important, but he covers so incredibly many topics that I think his effort is enormous. (I've read consecutively through p 482, into 15th century, and probably a bit more that half of the rest as I jump around--total is 1085pp excluding Bibliography and Index.
I continue to wish there were more comments in celebration of Church accomplishments in Charity and Discernment of God's Will, and less comment on controversy and opposition. Yet I suppose it is an important lesson from history that human nature is inherently contentious, unless guided by the Holy Spirit.


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:30 am 
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Now at page 680 (1600's); McSorley calls this chapter the Secularization of Europe, which seems to me ironic because I had a very favorable impression of the European Catholics sending droves of inspired and heroic missionaries into virtually all parts of the new world as well as the now more accessible old world.
McSorley referred to the 1400's as Nationalism and Disunion, and the 1500's as Protestant Revolt and Catholic Reform.
As noted previously, I'm disappointed that so many pages are devoted to heresies and other opposition, and so little in celebration of Church accomplishments other than education (health care, healing, hospitals, welfare, miracles all have no specific index reference and little comment even in discussion of lives of most well-known Saints). Also, I'm disappointed that there is very little statistical info about the growth of the Church, and where there is reference McSorley often expresses scepticism.
Yet I read on, wishing that I'd read this years ago, and believing every Catholic should have and read at least a couple volumes of Church history. I'm still struggling to find a philosophy of history I can support-it seems fascinating to observe McSorley's struggle to decide what he will report, what to support, and what to oppose. I think historians should focus on the science of documenting and preserving who, what, where, and when--and leave the spin on why and how to the politicians, sociologists. I'd be very grateful for comments and reference to good writings on this.
Have I mentioned that our former NH Bishop, the Most Reverend John Peterson, DD, PhD, LLD, and Former President General of the National Catholic Educational Association, wrote the Foreword for McSorley? One of several of his comments keeps returning to me: "No sincere student of Church History can be anything but optimistic. The gates of hell shall not prevail."
Such optimism would seem to have more personal concern than for family and neighbors.


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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:05 pm 
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Quote:
very little statistical info about the growth of the Church
It's probably not available in anything except wild guesses.

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:20 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Quote:
very little statistical info about the growth of the Church
It's probably not available in anything except wild guesses.



I don't know about that, simply by reading the New Testament and the apostolic fathers we have a lot of sociological data about which people were most attracted to the Church, and then if you toss in what we know about what the opponents of Christianity said about the movement, and take a look at the graffiti in the catacombs and other Christian sites, and then compare this early evidence to what is said in the later Fathers, I think it would be possible to construct a pretty reliable portrait of the growth of Christianity.


We know that in the first century, Christianity attracted primarily the poor, slaves and other people on the margins of society. But by the second century you start to see Christianity climb through the social ranks and there start to be more converts from the middle class, and among those who are educated, and by the fourth century, it was attracting the very upper classes, with many senators and other leading figures converting. This tells us quite a bit about how quickly Christianity spread.


it would be difficult to compile all the data we have into one central location, but I think there is more than enough that one could conduct a fairly reliable statistical analysis of the data.

The data may be incomplete but it is not nonexistent, and it wouldn't be necessary to just make a wild guess.

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:27 pm 
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I've read Stark's book. His stats are laughable.

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:46 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I've read Stark's book. His stats are laughable.



Who said anything about Rodney Stark?

The fact remains that there is quite a bit of sociological and statistical data, all we have to do is piece it together, we don't have to just make it up.

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 Post subject: Re: J McSorley's Outline History of the Church
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:11 pm 
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Although I am nearly always suspicious of deliberate bias in polls and similar statistics--Barna, Pew, and Gallup seem among the the worst--my concern/curiosity with McSorley is his lack of statistics.
I like some of the titles of Rodney Stark, but some of the reviews are debious, and what in the world would I ask of a "sociologist of religion."
I've progressed to p 754 sequentially in McSorley and poked around in most of the rest, so I'm finding it increasingly difficult to resist the temptation to draw some conclusions.
Could you help me with this quotation from p 6: "the Catholic Church of the present day is in essence identical with the Church founded by Jesus Christ"? Could you rate it from 1 (strong disagreement) to 10 (strong agreement) and comment? I'm sure I've read this somewhere else, but can't recall where. It strikes me as an astonishing statement.


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