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2016-02-12

2016-02-13


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History House

Pilgrims: Grave Robbers And Fashion Plates
published 11/27/2005
The usual depiction of the first thanksgiving, bolstered by nearly a century of elementary school construction paper projects, includes happy Wampanoag Indians and brightly smiling Pilgrims in drab, black clothing with outlandish buckles on their shoes. It's all nonsense. First in a four part series. Read the article

The Singular Beast: Jews, Christians & the Pig by Claudine Fabre-Vassas (4/5)
Christian anti-Semitism is a hard nut to crack. Why on Earth do Christians hate Jews? The Singular Beast takes task with all those who believe anti-Semitism is only for nuts and hatemongers. References to Jews as poisoners, god-killers, and unclean animals resonate throughout the very language and customs of the Christian World. Reading Mme. Fabre-Vassas's work will make those of you in America appreciate the benefits of living in a country without much history. It's hard to appreciate how ingrained anti-Semitic notions can be built into the actual ethnography of a people. The Singular Beast is a bit heavy-going at times, admittedly (the translation makes the prose quite flat), but for those who are interested in seeing History in the everyday, this book is truly fascinating. The book has been asking to be read a second time. You'll certainly never think about Jews or pigs the same way again. Read more at Amazon.com

In History

The dirt swept under the carpet of centuries of history
Pilgrims: Grave Robbers And Fashion Plates
published 11/27/2005
The usual depiction of the first thanksgiving, bolstered by nearly a century of elementary school construction paper projects, includes happy Wampanoag Indians and brightly smiling Pilgrims in drab, black clothing with outlandish buckles on their shoes. It's all nonsense. First in a four part series. Read the article

What We're Reading

Not as much as we'd like
click to purchase The Singular Beast: Jews, Christians & the Pig
The Singular Beast: Jews, Christians & the Pig by Claudine Fabre-Vassas (4/5)
Christian anti-Semitism is a hard nut to crack. Why on Earth do Christians hate Jews? The Singular Beast takes task with all those who believe anti-Semitism is only for nuts and hatemongers. References to Jews as poisoners, god-killers, and unclean animals resonate throughout the very language and customs of the Christian World. Reading Mme. Fabre-Vassas's work will make those of you in America appreciate the benefits of living in a country without much history. It's hard to appreciate how ingrained anti-Semitic notions can be built into the actual ethnography of a people. The Singular Beast is a bit heavy-going at times, admittedly (the translation makes the prose quite flat), but for those who are interested in seeing History in the everyday, this book is truly fascinating. The book has been asking to be read a second time. You'll certainly never think about Jews or pigs the same way again. Read more at Amazon.com
click to purchase The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars
The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars by Rene Weis (3/5)
It is one of the great ironies of history that our best record of everyday medieval life comes to us courtesy of an attempt by the Catholic church to erase a particular heresy from the earth. Those feisty Catholics did get away with what would today be called genocide -- there are no Albigensian heretics anymore. But the staff of the Inquisition kept an astonishingly complete record of the proceedings, and it is from these that Rene Weiss puts together a surprisingly comprehensive picture of life in France in the fourteenth century. After some initial academic posturing (100 pages), you can settle down to a really fascinating read. Highly recommended. Read more at Amazon.com
The Historical Jesus : The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant
by John Dominic Crossan
Yes Minister's Sir Humphrey Applebey has wisely noted that, "theology is a device for helping agnostics to stay within the Church of England." Much the same might be said about "historical" looks at Jesus. Such studies usually carry an explicit agenda to either deify or discredit the man. This is mystifying, because those keen on the former seem only to be preaching to the choir, while the latter are... well, metaphors simply fail us. Miraculously, ex-monk Crossan falls in neither camp. Along with a group of scholars no doubt damned by the fundamentalists as secular satans, he delves into Biblical texts with detailed textual analysis and socio-political observation. The chapter on magic versus religion alone is worth the price of admission. (The difference? The social status of the magician.) The end result is an attempt to explain Jesus's place in the ancient world in a context we can understand: a historically rigorous description of his radical message intentionally divorced from the centuries of embellishment which followed. Is this useful for someone trying to understand Christianity? Probably not -- the modern religious establishment doesn't seem to be keeping too close to the original. Do Crossan's conclusions about these later embellishments produce a sort of circularity to his arguments? Yes. But it's still worth a read. Read more at Amazon.com

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