Catholicism in the Early South

Saint Matthew’s Catholic Church in Mobile, Alabama / Photo by Altairisfar, Wikimedia Commons The Catholic Church in America began in a southern context, and Catholicism was the first form of Christianity to take root in the American South. By Dr. Maura Jane Farrelly Associate Professor of American Studies Brandeis University Introduction The Catholic Church in[…]

The Historical Context of the Protestant Reformation

A bishop granting indulgences in a fresco by Lorenzo Lotto, c. 1524 (Wikimedia Commons) To understand the rapid spread of Luther’s ideas, a brief account of the role that the Church played in Medieval society is necessary. By Jay Gundacker Graduate Student, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society Columbia University Martin Luther To understand the[…]

The Julio-Claudian Imperial Cult at the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias

The Sebasteion, excavated in 1979-81, was a grandiose temple complex dedicated to Aphrodite and the Julio-Claudian emperors and was decorated with a lavish sculptural program of which much survives. / Photo by wneuheisel, Wikimedia Commons Augustus and the Julio-Claudian emperors’ successful reign over the vast Roman Empire were due primarily to provincial loyalty and acquiescence.[…]

The Catholic Church’s Complex Role in Medieval Society

Saint-Sulpice church, the romanesque portal, 12th-c., at Marignac, Charente-Maritime, France / Photo by Jebulon, Wikimedia Commons The Catholic Church from late antiquity to the early medieval era served as a seque from Graeco-Roman belief systems and influence to a new religious, economic, and sociopolitical context. By LTC Richard M. Ebeling, PhD / 10.17.2016 BB&T Distinguished Professor of[…]

The Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire

There were alternate systems of belief for those dissatisfied with the chaotic traditional religious forms. By Dr. Lynn Harry Nelson Emeritus Professor of Medieval History The University of Kansas Introduction Christianity first arose historically as a reform movement within Judaism. The apostle Paul forced it open to non-Jews and gave it the Greek flavor that[…]

Sacred Politics: Inca Huacas for Political and Social Organization

Acequía del Camino Inca entrada a la Huaca de los Monos / Photo by Johnattan Rupire, Wikimedia Commons By incorporating pre-existing Andean beliefs into the official state ideology, the Inca were able to utilize huacas to aid in their political and social expansion. By Dr. Amy B. Scott / 06.24.2011 Assistant Professor of Bioarchaeology University[…]

Edgar Quinet and the Protestant Origins of the French Revolution

Portrait of Edgar Quinet by Sebastien-Melchior Cornu / National Portrait Gallery Examining the connections Quinet made between the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution. By Dr. Bryan Banks Assistant Professor of Early Modern and Modern European History, Comparative Revolutions, and Religious Studies Columbus State University Historians have explained the origins of the French Revolution in[…]

Religion is about Emotion Regulation, and It’s Very Good At It

Photo by Ted Spiegel/National Geographic/Getty Emotional therapy is the animating heart of religion combing social bonding surrounded by shared totems. By Dr. Stephen T. Asma / 09.25.2018 Professor of Philosophy Columbia College Chicago Religion does not help us to explain nature. It did what it could in pre-scientific times, but that job was properly unseated[…]

How a Huguenot Philosopher Realized that Atheists Could Be Virtuous

Comet critique; the case for moral atheists. The Great Comet of 1577 by Jiri Daschitzsky. / Wikimedia Commons For centuries in the West, the idea of a morally good atheist struck people as contradictory. By Dr. Michael W. Hickson / 09.18.2018 Assistant Professor of Philosophy Trent University For centuries in the West, the idea of[…]

The Mithraic Mysteries in Ancient Rome

Tauroctony statue / Photo by Carole Raddato, Creative Commons Mithraism was a mystery cult in the Roman world where followers worshipped the Indo-Iranian deity Mithras. By Dr. Pierre A. Thomé / 06.10.2015 Professor of Graphics and Illustration Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Introduction The Mithraic Mysteries, also known as Mithraism, were a mystery[…]

The Rites in the Mysteries of Dionysus: The Birth of the Drama

A wall of the triclinium, traditionally interpreted to represent the stages of initiation to the cult. Silenus holding a lyre (left); demi-god Pan and a nymph sitting on a rock, nursing a goat (centre); woman with coat (right). Fresco of the mystery ritual, right, Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, Italy. / Photo by Yann Forget,[…]

Filioque and the Latin-Greek ‘Great Schism’ of 1054

The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, by Eugene Delacroix, 1840 / Louvre Museum, Wikimedia Commons The Great Schism, also called the East-West Schism, divided Christendom into Western (Latin) and Eastern (Greek) branches. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 09.20.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The Great Schism, also called the East-West Schism, divided Christendom into[…]

Iconoclasm across Cultures from Antiquity to Modernity

Desecrated Christian icons in Turkey / Photo by Georges Jansoone JoJan, Göreme Valley Open Air Museum, Cappadocia, Wikimedia Commons Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons or monuments, usually for religious or political motives.  In common parlance, an iconoclast is a person who challenges cherished beliefs or traditional institutions as being based on error[…]

When the Puritans Killed Mary Dyer: ‘She Did Hang as a Flag’, Indeed

Inscription under the statue of Mary Dyer at the Massachusetts Statehouse, Boston. Note that the place given of her hanging is erroneous. / Photo by Sarnold17, Wikimedia Commons “Nay, I came to keep bloodguiltiness from you, desireing you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust law…” Mary Barrett Dyer (1611 – 1660) was an English Puritan turned[…]

A Quirky Case of Medieval Ecclesiastical Propaganda

Cross of the Scriptures, Cathedral, Temple Doolin and South Cross / Photo by Ingo Mehling, Wikimedia Commons The historical and archaeological importance of the original ecclesiastical site of Fuerty, Co. Roscommon. Part I Introduction Clonmacnoise commemorated… Fuerty, Roscommon (Image: Author) A few weeks ago, a short article in the Irish Times caught my eye. Entitled[…]

A Brief History of Eastern Orthodoxy

St Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church / Photo by Philafrenzy, Wikimedia Commons The Eastern family of churches, today called the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches, go back to the very earliest days of Christianity. Religious Literacy Project Harvard Divinity School The Eastern family of churches, today called the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches, go[…]

The Native Faith: Religious Nationalism in Slavic Neo-Paganism

Today dynamically developing neo-pagan communities in Ural and Siberia supply a discursive frame for national identities, group values and political ideologies. By Dr. Elena Valentinovna Golovneva Professor of Cultural Studies and Design Ural Federal University Abstract Today dynamically developing neo-pagan communities in Ural and Siberia supply a discursive frame for national identities, group values and[…]

The Church in the Middle Ages: From Dedication to Dissent

Illustration of Pope Boniface VIII and his Cardinals / British Library, Public Domain Examining how the Church, a powerful force in the Middle Ages, was organized, why people went on pilgrimages, and what happened to dissenters. By Dr. Alixe Bovey Head of Research Courtald Institute of Art The Church was the single most dominant institution[…]

A Brief History of Henotheism

The Assumption of the Virgin Artist, by Francesco Botticini, c.1475 / Creative Commons The term henotheism continues to allow for greater precision in the classification of religious belief systems. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.24.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Henotheism (from the Greek heis theos or “one god”) refers to religious belief systems that[…]

Cronus and Rhea: The Second Dynasty of Greek Gods and Goddesses

The rise of Zeus. By E.M. Berens / 05.21.2014 Cronus (Saturn) Cronus was the god of time in its sense of eternal duration. He married Rhea, daughter of Uranus and Gaea, a very important divinity. Their children were, three sons: Aïdes (Pluto), Poseidon (Neptune), Zeus (Jupiter), and three daughters: Hestia (Vesta), Demeter (Ceres), and Hera[…]

Like a Virgin? The Medieval Origins of a Modern Ritual

The medieval – and modern – Catholic practice of consecrating women as virgins who has lost their virginity. By Dr. Katherine Harvey / 07.20.2018 Wellcome Trust Research Fellow Birkbeck College University of London Although well-behaved women seldom make history, they do sometimes make the news. Over the past few days, numerous news outlets have reported on a[…]

The Religious Wars of Europe, 1524-1648

Battle of Rocroi, 1643, attributed to Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau / Wikimedia Commons During the period of 1524 until 1648, Europe was plagued by wars of religion. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.29.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief During the period of 1524 until 1648, Europe was plagued by wars of religion. It is important to recognize, however, that[…]

Rejecting Church and State in Medieval Anatolia

The Great Mosque of Divriği, photograph by Avniyazici The Paulicians were seeking an area out of the reach of contemporary states.  By Hugh Jeffery / 01.16.2017 PhD Student in Classical Archaeology Lincoln College University of Oxford The Çaltısuyu, a tributary of the Euphrates, flows through the dramatic canyons of eastern Anatolia. At around 1,225 meters[…]

Ignosticism and Referential Justification

By Tristan D. Vick / 10.11.2017 A Short Recap of the Ignostic Position Ignosticism is the philosophical position that most descriptions and definitions of God are incoherent, incomplete, discrepant, or contradictory (if not all of the above) and so cannot be discussed meaningfully. What this means is that asking questions about God, or ruminating on[…]

The Strange, Short Career of Judeo-Christianity

FDR / Library of Congress By Dr. Gene Zubovich / 03.22.2016 Visiting Lecturer in History University of California, Berkeley President Barack Obama insists that the United States defines itself by civic principles rather than by religious affiliation. In an otherwise unremarkable press conference in Turkey in 2009, he said: ‘[A]lthough… we have a very large Christian population,[…]

Inside the Sacred Danger of Thailand’s Caves

Family members pray in front of a Buddhist statue near the cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped in northern Thailand. AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit A scholar, who has conducted research on the Thai caves in which 12 children were recently trapped, explains their power and appeal, including the rituals and myth surrounding these sacred sites. By Dr. Andrew Alan Johnson / 07.09.2018 Assistant[…]

A History of Religion in the U.S. South

The American River Ganges, Harper’s Weekly, September 1871 by Thomas Nast. The original image of Nast’s most famous anti-Catholic image, Tweed was safely out of the picture, , literally and figuratively when the image was republished on 8 May 1875 along with other minor modifications. Library of Congress Investigating how “the South” has been an ideological[…]