BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

GUEST BLOG POST FROM B & H - AN INTERVIEW WITH DIARMAID MACCULLOCH

B & H  provided An interview with Diarmaid MacCulloch,
Host of A History of Christianity (A BBC Production)

Q: A History of Christianity corrects several misconceptions regarding Christianity’s past and traditions, beginning with the earliest days of the fledgling religion. How does the true history of Christianity’s origins differ from the version most of us know?

A: Today, Christianity is seen as a Western faith. Indeed, many in the Muslim world would see Western lifestyles as Christian lifestyles. But Christianity is not by origin a Western religion. Its beginnings are in the Middle East, where there still exist churches which have been Eastern since the earliest Christian era. For centuries, Christianity flourished in the East, and indeed, at one point, it was poised to triumph in Asia, maybe even in China. The headquarters of Christianity might well have been Baghdad rather than Rome, and if that had happened, Western Christianity would have been very different. The story of the first Christianity tells us the Christian faith is, in fact, hugely diverse with many identities. The history of Christianity has been the never-ending rebirth of a meeting with Jesus Christ, the resurrected son of God. For some, like the Oriental and Orthodox churches, the meeting has been through ritual and tradition, or the inner life of the mystic. For Western Catholics, through obedience to the Church. In Protestant churches, through the Bible. And it’s the variety that is so remarkable in Christianity’s journey. It’s reached into every continent and adapted to new cultures. That’s the hallmark of a world religion.

Q: Why does Christian history fascinate you?

A: When I was a small boy, my parents used to drive me around historic churches searching out whatever looked interesting, but soon, they realized they had created a monster. The history of the church became my life’s work. For me, no other subject can rival its scale and drama. For 2,000 years, Christianity has been one of the great players in world history, inspiring faith but also squalid politics. It is an epic story starring a cast of extraordinary people—from Jesus himself and the first apostles to empresses, kings, and popes, from reformers and champions of human conscience to crusaders and sadists. Religious belief can transform us for good or ill. It has brought human beings to acts of criminal folly as well as the highest achievements of goodness and creativity. I will tell the story of both extremes. Christianity has survived persecution, splits, wars of religion, mockery, hatred. Today there are two billion Christians, a third of humanity—Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and many more. Deep down, the Christian faith boasts a shared core—but what is it? This is something I wanted to explore on a truly global scale.

Q: Your search for Christianity’s true history begins with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Why does this location tell us about the Christianity’s global roots?

A: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is said to have been built where Jesus was crucified and buried. At its heart is what’s believed to be his tomb. The church built around the tomb of Jesus is the starting point for a forgotten story, a story that may overturn your preconceptions about early Christianity. Pride of place in this building goes to two churches—the Greek Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church. It’s true that Orthodoxy and Catholicism dominated Christianity in Europe, in the West, for its first 1,500 years. But as you walk around the edges of the church, you can’t fail to notice other curious little chapels. They’re not Western or European. They’re Middle Eastern and African, and they tell a very different story about the origins of Christianity. Around the back of Jesus’ tomb is Egypt’s Coptic church. There are plenty of other churches at this location, but you need to know where to look: the Syriac Orthodox church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, to name a few. Many versions of Christian history would make these churches unorthodox, yet they are far older than better known versions of Christianity like Protestantism. It’s easy for tourists to dismiss these ancient churches as quaint or even irrelevant. But that would be a big mistake.

Q: What are some general differences between the expansion of Western and Eastern Christianity?

A: In the West, Christianity became the religion of an entire empire. This meant the end of persecution. It brought power and wealth. It gave the Christian faith a chance at becoming a universal religion. In theory, it embraced Christians in the Eastern Empire as well as in the West.

But in the east, many Christians were unimpressed by the new alliance—even hostile. At stake were fundamental disagreements about the direction the faith should take. Jesus had told people to abandon wealth, not to ally with the rich and powerful. It was Eastern Christians in Syria who led the way, showing Western Christianity a pattern for spiritual life. We call this pattern monasticism, a way of life involving isolation from the world, austerity, and suffering. The expansion of Eastern Christianity has often taken place apart from any empire. It has often been a religion of dialogue, not conquest.

The DVD set will arrive in stores, including Sam’s Club, in time for the Easter Season. The series will also be available on Amazon.com.

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
6 DVD Set presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch
AVAILABLE : March 2010
ww.ambrosevideo.com




REVIEW:
HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY

Product Description:
A History of Christianity, a six-part series presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch, an Oxford history professor whose books about Cranmer and the Reformation have been acclaimed as masterpieces. A History Of Christianity will reveal the true origins of Christianity and delve into what it means to be a Christian. Intelligent, thought-provoking and magisterial in its scope the series will uncover how a small Jewish sect that preached humility became the biggest religion in the world. Most Christian histories start with St Paul's mission to Rome, but Diarmaid MacCulloch argues that the first Christianity stayed much closer to its Middle-Eastern roots. He describes not only the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organization and spirituality, but how it has changed politics, sex, and human society.

The series includes subjects from Palestine in the first century to India in the third, from Damascus to China in the seventh century and from San Francisco to Korea in the twentieth. MacCulloch is one of the most widely travelled of Christian historians and conveys a sense of place as arrestingly as he does the power of ideas. He presents the development of Christian history differently from any of his predecessors. He shows how, after a semblance of unity in its earliest centuries, the Christian church divided during the next 1400 years into three increasingly distanced parts, of which the western Church was by no means always the most important: he observes that at the end of the first eight centuries of Christian history, Baghdad might have seemed a more likely capital for worldwide Christianity than Rome. This is the first truly global history of Christianity.

REVIEW: This is a six-part series. Diarmaid MacCulloch does a very detailed job in telling the story of Christianity and how it survived. The film coverage in the documentary is amazing. He takes you to some fascinating places such as where Christ was buried, and through the city of Jerusalem. It was interesting to note that at the tomb there are so many churches. The site is so covered up that you can only see it from the inside.
I’m not a history buff and found myself zoning in and out as Diarmaid talked about this history of Christianity and the obstacles it faced. I was distracted by all the walking around he did in the video and the fast scene changes in the beginning. As you can see in the video clip I've enclosed the camera jumps around a bit. That made me a little uneasy. You might love that and have no problem watching this series. Over all this was very informative but not for the younger crowd. It’s just a little too much information all at once. Diarmaid did a few interesting interviews in the DVD that caught my attention and found very interesting. I most definitely need to watch this DVD again to catch all the detailed information that this excited.

Nora St.Laurent

0 comments:

Post a Comment