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Old December 14th, 2012, 05:16 AM   #41

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A big thanks to Sankari and others for informative posts!
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Old December 14th, 2012, 06:15 AM   #42
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Was it? I'd like to see evidence of that please.
I have to dig it up from some books or courses I have. It might take some time, Christmas is approaching and I am busy attending Christmas market drinking punch and hot medos with friends and looking for presents form by bellowed

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Correspondence between the emperor Trajan and Pliny the Younger (a local magistrate) shows that regional officials were already aware of Christians, and dealt with them independently. Pliny only requests guidance on matters of administration and process.
Thanks, I know that correspondence.
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Old December 15th, 2012, 12:50 AM   #43

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Meh, the Lithuanians might have remained independent, but by the 16th century their population was largely catholic. Latvian peasants lasted longer than that, many remaining pagan until at least the 17th century. And now, the Lithuanians are a very religious catholic nation, while Latvians are mostly secular (more than 60% are atheists[strong agnostics] like me or on-the-fence agnostics).

Anyway, the spread of christianity was for the most part politics. The religion lends well to the needs of monarchs - I rule because god said so, and shut up if you want to get into paradise. As opposed to the old pagan gods which were often seen as limiting the leaders' power (despotism was seen as sacrilege in many pagan tribes and nations).
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Old December 15th, 2012, 01:03 AM   #44

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I don't think christianity was some sort of coherent body of thought and action in Constantine's time. The Council of Nicea was instigated to bring about some acceptance of common beliefs by quite divergent parties. The Nicene Creed reads like a closing communique from a modern-day high level international forum. Constantine's focus was to end the divisiveness within the Roman Empire that was undermining it. Belief systems were just one of the areas he was imposing some sort of structure.
Agreed. Since Constantine called for the council, clearly he was investing time and effort in unifying the church which for him had very real practical and political objectives rather than religious zeal.. What the council succeeded in doing was animate christian sects to cooperate - as I said, they realised that they were close to real political clout - and also by defining heresy which as we know had influence in later times.

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Not really. The agenda at Nicaea was as follows:
  • Settle the Arian controversy
  • Agree on annual date for Easter celebration
  • Resolve disputes concerning the Lapsi (Christians who had lapsed under persecution)
That's not the entire agenda, as the council debated important philosophical questions regarding the status of Jesus. Also, since this question was far-reaching and involved more sects than the Arians, it wasn't just the Arian question that it sought to settle (which it didn't). Valens after all was an Arian Caesar and gothic immigrants of his time had agreed to become Arians under his patronage.

The lapsi involved were specifically those from the persecutions of Licinius I believe.

However, one thing the council did succeed in was defining heresy, setting the path toward later religious conflict by refusing to tolerate alternative view.
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Old December 15th, 2012, 01:19 AM   #45
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Anyway, the spread of christianity was for the most part politics. The religion lends well to the needs of monarchs - I rule because god said so, and shut up if you want to get into paradise. As opposed to the old pagan gods which were often seen as limiting the leaders' power (despotism was seen as sacrilege in many pagan tribes and nations).
That is such a modernistic way of looking at the combat.

Christianity was where many people have reached in past times to find a way to resist executive tyranny. Pretty much the whole canon of Anglo-American radicalism is Christian in character, albeit Protestant and Dissenter.

Christianity only lends itself to the divine right of kings when interpreted in a specific way, just like it only lends itself to radical individualism and Lockean revolution when interpreted in a specific way. That, more than anything, is why Christianity won and all the various ideologies and cults going under the modern word 'pagan' lost: Christianity had a unique combination of flexibility and dogma that no other orthodoxy could match.

There is some randomness in the process -- perhaps there was a Christianity competitor that we simply don't remember that lost because the right person in the right situation chose heads over tails --, but ultimately we need to accept that there is something important about Christianity. I am not a Christian. I don't know if I ever want to be Christian.

But I what I do know is that countless millions have disagreed with me and it's a bit arrogant to believe I can simply dismiss them because I find the things my parents believe to be fairy tales. If we are to move on, rather than just repeat past mistakes, we need to understand why paganism died and Christian thrived on a two thousand year old field of religious and metaphysical battle.
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Old December 15th, 2012, 01:55 AM   #46

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That is such a modernistic way of looking at the combat.
But also one with very real associations in the ancient world. Christianity is often seen as religion alone (they prefer it that way) but remember that the movement was successful because preachers prospered by it. A fourth century Roman stated that "Make me a bishop of Rome and I'll become a christian tomorrow". A very telling statement, and one reflected in modern day christian circles, but that shouldn't suprise us because christianity is the last survivng part of the Roman empire in some ways, preserving Roman sentiment, practises, and mndset.

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Christianity was where many people have reached in past times to find a way to resist executive tyranny. Pretty much the whole canon of Anglo-American radicalism is Christian in character, albeit Protestant and Dissenter.
That's looking at the argument from the wrong end. Romans viewed freedom to decide and act as fundamental to the definition of what makes someone a man (it wasn't just getting laid or being hard as nails). That was why they viewed slaves as 'non human'. So please note that christianity carries undercurrents of slavery in its methods of obtaining and controlling congregations. Think about it. Confomity, obedience, and involvement are required, not to mention the means by which agents of christianity go about conversion and recovery of lapsed members. I speak with some experience on this matter.

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Christianity only lends itself to the divine right of kings when interpreted in a specific way, just like it only lends itself to radical individualism and Lockean revolution when interpreted in a specific way. That, more than anything, is why Christianity won and all the various ideologies and cults going under the modern word 'pagan' lost: Christianity had a unique combination of flexibility and dogma that no other orthodoxy could match.
Christianity 'won' because it achieved political patronage, wealth and land ownership, plus it presented a communal movement and sanguine visions of life after death, and that it was willing to adapt ideas from other faiths (bearing in mind that the reported miracles of Jesus are the same as those in earlier asian mythos and that Mithraic followers argued with christians about who was copying who). Since many pagan religions involved personal worship, and in most cases, even less than that with mere appeals and sacrifices to powerful divinities for favours, it follows that christianity had a stronger communal relevance and please realise that the religion emerged from a troublesome population in the middle east whose authorities were keen to control their radicals and avoid conflict with Rome.

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There is some randomness in the process -- perhaps there was a Christianity competitor that we simply don't remember that lost because the right person in the right situation chose heads over tails --, but ultimately we need to accept that there is something important about Christianity. I am not a Christian. I don't know if I ever want to be Christian.
Christian competitor? Not sure what you mean there. However, Jesus became accepted as the Son of God in Roman circles whereas in judaic belief he was merely a prophet. That shouldn't suprise us either because by tradition the Romans had always seen political power as evidence of divine substance. Julius Caesar had after all claimed ancestory from the gods, and some Caesars would identify themselves with various divinites.

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If we are to move on, rather than just repeat past mistakes, we need to understand why paganism died and Christian thrived on a two thousand year old field of religious and metaphysical battle. and defined heresy, though it didn't succeed entirely in its aims, partilcularly regarding the Arians.
Paganism didn't die. Suppressed by christian militancy for quite a long time but as happened in the Roman world, the failure of religion to meet social needs means that people seek alternative beliefs, such as the neo-pagan attempt to reinvent druidism (which itself survived the Battle of Mona in 67 at grass roots level with mentions of druidic priests in the dark ages and folklore surrounding 'hedge wizards' emerging from the middle ages), or perhaps the obsessive attachment people have today toward conspiracy, and UFO theory.
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Old December 15th, 2012, 02:55 AM   #47

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That's not the entire agenda, as the council debated important philosophical questions regarding the status of Jesus.
Uh, dude? That was all covered under the Arian controversy.

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Also, since this question was far-reaching and involved more sects than the Arians, it wasn't just the Arian question that it sought to settle (which it didn't).
How many sects do you believe were specifically addressed by the Council of Nicaea? (I agree it did not settle the Arian question).

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Valens after all was an Arian Caesar and gothic immigrants of his time had agreed to become Arians under his patronage.
There were no other Caesars at the time of the Council. Constantine was sole ruler. Valens did not come to power until AD 364, 29 years after the Council of Nicaea.

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The lapsi involved were specifically those from the persecutions of Licinius I believe. However, one thing the council did succeed in was defining heresy, setting the path toward later religious conflict by refusing to tolerate alternative view.
Agreed.
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Old December 15th, 2012, 08:00 PM   #48

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As the book is only 20 E in local e-shop I guess I'll just order this too but history seems to be a really dangerous thing to get interested for people that read slowly and with no educational background in it. Even to get some coherent general picture only about this topic (Christians vs. paganism in Europe) it seems I have to read some general history of Europe, Rome, Midde-ages, Baltic / Nordic crusades, pagan tribes, history of Christianity and whatever else. I am unemployed but I still feel I don't have enough time. Not that I am complaining, though, because more you know the more you want to know...
I wish you the best on your "historical" journey. My own journey has been a fascinating and insightful trip. I also hope your personal circumstances take a turn for the better.

A long time ago I became curious about how this thing we refer to as the Western Civilization came to be. The standard popular answer (in the US) has been that democracy came from ancient Greece and that after a long period of darkness and religious suppression science was free to develop. This "answer", or standard curriculum, overlooked a vast amount of European history - especially history east of the Rhine. It was very superficial. Fortunately things have improved a great deal as scholars and historians are taking closer, more informative looks at the subject.

One historian who did significant work in this regard was a Danish scholar of German Medieval history. His name is David Gress. I believe he and his family moved to the US after his ground-breaking book From Plato to Nato.

IMO, the best, most concise book regarding the late West Roman Empire is Michael Grant's The Fall of the Roman Empire (though, as usual, the title suggests the whole empire fell, which is characteristic of attitudes that what matter occurred only west of the Rhine.) However I think it does a very good job of providing an account of significant political and military events before proceeding into a consideration of Roman society at the time. My own copy of the book is an inexpensive paperback Penguin edition of about 210 pages. I think it's a good place to start in regard to the history of the late West Roman Empire. A good place to start, if I may repeat, as I think it provides a solid foundation if one may be interested in further study. It does include the matter of Christianity and Paganism.

Google did have a service where one could read entire chapters of books online before one decided whether or not to purchase the books. I used it myself, but it's been a couple years. If this service still exists, perhaps it may be helpful. I don't recall what it was named - Google Reader, or something like that? Maybe a fellow Historumite is more up-to-date on this online feature.

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I have just been interested in history for 1-2 years and in contrary what the popular press is saying about Finnish school system, it sucks (or at least sucked back in 80s and 90's).
Yowzer! Pardon me for interrupting your reply to another poster, but this morning I read an editorial in our local newspaper comparing Finnish education to South Korean education to French education to US education. The editorial was a response to the French president's recent statement about reducing homework for French students. I don't know anything about this; I merely read the editorial. My own US experience has been, especially in regard to history, is that I didn't learn anything until after I graduated from high school. And this, beyond the age of 20, was driven by my interest and curiosity. I feel very fortunate I had some good guides.
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Old December 16th, 2012, 01:38 AM   #49

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I wish you the best on your "historical" journey. My own journey has been a fascinating and insightful trip. I also hope your personal circumstances take a turn for the better.

Thanks for the bon voyage! I don't feel that bad about my situation at all, I have now time for do what I find interesting and with our communazi social security providing me scheisseloads of cash, I live like a king...

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IMO, the best, most concise book regarding the late West Roman Empire is Michael Grant's The Fall of the Roman Empire (though, as usual, the title suggests the whole empire fell, which is characteristic of attitudes that what matter occurred only west of the Rhine.) However I think it does a very good job of providing an account of significant political and military events before proceeding into a consideration of Roman society at the time. My own copy of the book is an inexpensive paperback Penguin edition of about 210 pages. I think it's a good place to start in regard to the history of the late West Roman Empire. A good place to start, if I may repeat, as I think it provides a solid foundation if one may be interested in further study. It does include the matter of Christianity and Paganism.
I found earlier in the fall a copy of The Fall of the West: The Slow Death of the Roman Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy in the sale bin in local book store. I hope it gives a good background info about the time period and events.


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Yowzer! Pardon me for interrupting your reply to another poster, but this morning I read an editorial in our local newspaper comparing Finnish education to South Korean education to French education to US education. The editorial was a response to the French president's recent statement about reducing homework for French students. I don't know anything about this; I merely read the editorial. My own US experience has been, especially in regard to history, is that I didn't learn anything until after I graduated from high school. And this, beyond the age of 20, was driven by my interest and curiosity. I feel very fortunate I had some good guides.
I read in the newspaper that Finnish people, even though being at top of these best education in the world stats, start school later and have less homework than in e.g. lot of other European countries. I feel like everything I have learned I have learned because I was interested or needed to know about something. For example, I got F's from my English tests in school until a role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons came in Finland in 80's. All the rulebooks were at first only in English, and this forced me, and I am guessing many, many others, to learn English for to be able to start slaying them dragons...
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Old December 16th, 2012, 08:19 AM   #50
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I wish you the best on your "historical" journey. My own journey has been a fascinating and insightful trip. I also hope your personal circumstances take a turn for the better.

A long time ago I became curious about how this thing we refer to as the Western Civilization came to be. The standard popular answer (in the US) has been that democracy came from ancient Greece and that after a long period of darkness and religious suppression science was free to develop. This "answer", or standard curriculum, overlooked a vast amount of European history - especially history east of the Rhine. It was very superficial. Fortunately things have improved a great deal as scholars and historians are taking closer, more informative looks at the subject.

One historian who did significant work in this regard was a Danish scholar of German Medieval history. His name is David Gress. I believe he and his family moved to the US after his ground-breaking book From Plato to Nato.

IMO, the best, most concise book regarding the late West Roman Empire is Michael Grant's The Fall of the Roman Empire (though, as usual, the title suggests the whole empire fell, which is characteristic of attitudes that what matter occurred only west of the Rhine.) However I think it does a very good job of providing an account of significant political and military events before proceeding into a consideration of Roman society at the time. My own copy of the book is an inexpensive paperback Penguin edition of about 210 pages. I think it's a good place to start in regard to the history of the late West Roman Empire. A good place to start, if I may repeat, as I think it provides a solid foundation if one may be interested in further study. It does include the matter of Christianity and Paganism.

Google did have a service where one could read entire chapters of books online before one decided whether or not to purchase the books. I used it myself, but it's been a couple years. If this service still exists, perhaps it may be helpful. I don't recall what it was named - Google Reader, or something like that? Maybe a fellow Historumite is more up-to-date on this online feature.



Yowzer! Pardon me for interrupting your reply to another poster, but this morning I read an editorial in our local newspaper comparing Finnish education to South Korean education to French education to US education. The editorial was a response to the French president's recent statement about reducing homework for French students. I don't know anything about this; I merely read the editorial. My own US experience has been, especially in regard to history, is that I didn't learn anything until after I graduated from high school. And this, beyond the age of 20, was driven by my interest and curiosity. I feel very fortunate I had some good guides.
I follow A. J. Toynbee's formulation that Western Civilization is descended from Graeco-Roman Civilization via the Christian Church. So it's not technically wrong that Western Civilization has it's origins with the Greeks, it is overly simplistic and based on an idolization of the Greeks popular in the 1700s.
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