People’s History of Christianity (Part II)
The original reason that I requested this book was its obvious allusion to Zinn; however, much to my initial dismay, I found the book was nothing like that.
My expectation was that this book would be a detailed narrative of the history of “Christianity” as it has unfolded throughout the millennia told from the perspective of those that were victimized by “Christian” history, much like Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” documented the lives and experiences of those who suffered through America’s “manifest destiny.” I often feel like sometimes that component of the church’s collective history is down-played or ignored or considered part of the “manifest destiny” of the church by those within the church or it is the only thing associated with Christian history by those who see (sometimes justifiably) not a lot of good in “Christian” history when they look at the past two millennia. To that extent, I was initially disappointed.
However, what I found was that this book is written about groups of people similarly overlooked, ignored or castigated. They faced similar persecutions by members of their own creed, were discriminated against due to ethnic differences or were martyred annihilated for their spiritual differences. They have been left out by those both who have strong-armed Christianity today and by those outside of the faith in their hold. Their stories must be told in order to gain a more perfect understanding of the History of Christianity.
(I am not suggesting that some of the atrocities perpetuated by “Christian” leaders throughout the ages against their own kind carry nearly the same gravitas nor am I suggesting that those atrocities that were executed internal to the faith have the same global and trans-era ramifications. It is clear that those external expressions of religious contempt and persecution by those under the moniker of Christianity to those outside have negatively altered the state of the world and the world’s perception of Christians and, thus, Christ.)
If, at any point in your life, you have found some irregularities in the branding of Christianity today and what you have observed of the life of Christ and have known on some intrinsic spiritual level, this book is for you. This book is a reflection of and on communities that have enacted the spiritual life of Christ to the world by way of charity, love, hospitality, goodness and care for the poor. They have lived in small and large towns, monasteries and cathedrals. And, while the wounds inflicted by Christians throughout the ages have left scars on this planet and its people, the works and lives of the subjects in this book provide the healing and comfort necessary to introduce a sick world to the goodness, grace, mercy, peace and reconciliation of God.