|Hillaire Belloc - early 20th c. historian|
Now I try (and often fail) to argue in the classical sense. You know -- define your terms, present your argument (i.e. your thesis backed up by facts), and ask cogent questions of your opponent in the debate. I try not to rant. What you'll notice if you bother to scroll through the comments is that ranting is exactly what is going on. "I'm an atheist.. and you are an f...... blockhead!" pretty much summarizes some of the "comments on the article.
Now if I were the moderator at Spero Forum I would not allow that obscenity to be posted. But I'm not. The reason, however, that I found the discussion so interesting was the obvious ignorance of so many of those commenting. One self-described atheist blames religion for all the evils of history. You can guess what he refers to as "proof"--
the inquisition and the crusades. He says he values freedom, science, and education, but he apparently knows nothing about the development of the university system which came from the church. Nor does he realize that many scientific discoveries were made by scientists who were Catholic clerics and by Catholic lay scientists. He obviously knows nothing about the Inquisition or the Crusades either or he would not just join the ignorant mantra of anti-Catholicism behind those accusations. If not for the Crusades saving the West from Islam, he would not today have the freedom to make his comments illustrating his stupidity to the world. And the Church Inquisition which bigots often describe as executing millions was actually restrained for the times and over its 250 year history executed only about ten people a year. What an irony it is to see liberals, who have no problem with the bloody execution of about 4500 innocent babies every year, attack the Church for the Inquisition.
Please, please, please study history. And make sure the historians you read are reputable and honest. Hillaire Belloc is certainly one. So is Dr. Warren Carroll and some of his short volumes (on the Russian revolution, Guadalupe, The Spanish Civil War) are easy reading. If you think of history as a collection of true stories from the past, Warren Carroll is a riveting storyteller.
And don't neglect Church History. I recommend Fr. John Laux's Church History published by Tan Books It's pricey but you can find used copies on Amazon. The book was first published in 1930 so the 20th century is only marginally presented and Vatican II and its aftermath not at all. But it is a great resource through the pontificate of Pius XI and the early pontificate of Pius XII.
Fr. Laux in his final chapter includes an encouraging quote from St. Augustine that is every bit as true today as when the saint said it 1600 years ago:
[Holy Church's] enemies look upon her and say, "She is about to die; soon her very name will disappear; there will be no more Christians; they have had their day." Whilst they are thus speaking, I see these very men die themselves, day by day, but the Church lives on, and preaches the power of God to every succeeding generation.Prepare yourself to defend the truth in the present by studying the past. As Ecclesiastes says, "There is nothing new under the sun." By studying the past, you will prepare yourself to be salt and light to the present.