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4.35 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0964487349
Manufacturer : Morningstar Books|
Release data : 01 July, 1995
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REQUIRED READING FOR EVERYONE
The Dark Side of Christian History is one of those rare finds. This book was written in a concise fashion and details the horrors, both spiritually and physically, that the early Church visited upon members of society. I found Helen Ellerbe's research to be thorough, citing many historical documents and publications. Contrary to a statement made by another reader, this book is highly accurate and credible.
Many individuals have no knowledge of the atrocities committed by the church. Without understanding these events, we can never progress beyond them. The era of the Inquisition and the Witch Hunt is over, but religious intolerance is still with us, rearing its ugly head. With the help of provocative books such as this, I believe we can move past religious intolerance - once and for all.
On a final note, I am Wiccan, and although I believe that present-day Christians should not be held responsible for the Church's brutality of the past, I would like to see our Christian brothers, sisters and leaders acknowledge, accept and learn from these events.
Brilliantly informative--to a point
I really wish I could give this book the five stars that the first nine chapters deserve. Unfortunately, after an excellent review of the multitude of atrocities, both physical and intellectual, committed by the various facets of the Christian religion through the ages, the author went astray in Chapter Ten. Ms. Ellerbe is apparently an excellent historian, but her grasp of science is unfortunately not as strong. She makes the common (and naive) assumption that a mechanistic view of the universe must necessarily be a deterministic view. In fact, the opposite is true. It is the very uncertainty and randomness of the modern scientific (mechanistic) view of the universe that frightens those who take refuge in the superstitious comfort of Christianity, where subservience to the authorities of the church provides certainty and excuses one from the responsibility to think and make decisions. She also errs when she somehow interprets the advent of the "wierdness" of quantum physics and relativity theory as heralding a movement away from a mechanistic, reality based interpretation of the universe. The fact that the tenets of these concepts are counterintuitive speaks only to the inadequacies of our intuition, not to some overlying mystical nature to the universe.
Chapter Ten also contains a rather odd logical fault. Ms. Ellerbe blames the hierarchical structure of the Christian church for the hierarchical nature of modern government and business. This is the same logical fallacy in which Pat Robertson so often indulges when he blames all of the ills of mankind on a theory that didn't see the light of day until the middle of the 19th century. Hierarchy in government significantly predates any advent of the Christian religion. As an example, just take a glance at the culture that Christians so like to hate--the Romans. Roman government might have gone through phases involving multiple rulers, etc., but it was well established as a hierarchy long before exposed to the taint of Christianity. Then there are the Asian cultures, generally built around an emporer.
The first nine chapters of this book are stellar; I'm just really sorry that Ms. Ellerbe chose to over-interpret her data when she decided to get metaphysical in Chapter 10.
Western culture has inherited an enduring legacy of pain.
Occasionally, a book comes along which belongs in every Pagan's personal library, but if it were up to me "The Dark Side of Christian History" would be required reading for the general population as well. Author, Helen Ellerbe, has written precisely the book I've been waiting for, and in fact would like to have written myself. While others before her have covered one or two of Christianity's more shameful exploits in a given volume, she has gathered together in one work, a definitive chronicle of events from each period from 100ce to the present day. She explains the evolution of the Christian world view and how this doctrine manifested itself in church policy, driving every aspect of its behavior. By viewing each step of this process in sequence, we see that the episodes of tyranny and oppression were not mere isolated incidents in an otherwise distinguished career of benevolence, but rather they were part of an ongoing process whereby each and every obstacle to hegemony was systematically subjugated, subdued, subverted and destroyed. In the chapter concerning modern times, entitled "A World Without God", Ellerbe demonstrates that while the power of the church is mostly gone, the effects of its doctrine in the form of a persistent world view are with us still. Western attitudes toward gender, race, sexuality and the environment have all been shaped by that doctrine created by the evolving church in its effort to impose rigid hierarchy on the entire world and everything in it. She goes on to show that while the rise of modern science has done much to strip the church of its power, most of the science of the last 500 years is in certain ways an extension of the Christian world view, rather than an affront to it, and we are only now just beginning to break free of this limitation. "The Dark Side of Christian History" though thoroughly researched and documented, is not difficult to read but it IS painful to read. I found myself hurting for all of humanity - past, present and future and asking myself the question "What if none of it ever happened?".