Friday, December 19, 2008

From the Reading List - How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

I just finished reading Woods' fine book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. At fewer than 250 pages it's obviously no more than an overview of this very broad subject, but I think it's a superb one. I commend it to you wholeheartedly.

Indeed, this book is a breath of fresh air after reading Southern's book The Church and Western Society in the Middle Ages. I'm not entirely certain that Southern was deliberately and self-consciously hostile to the Church, but his portait of her is not exactly one that encourages affection for her either. For example, I don't remember any significant discussion of the role played by the Church's charitable works during the Middle Ages, nor of the consequences of (for example) Henry VIII's confiscation of monastic property in Britain. Woods' work is a fine remedy for Southern and a host of other historiographic ailments.

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