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Weekly Questions

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36
Deleted by topic administrator 05-17-2008 10:02 AM
35
sergio
04-27-2008
04:37 PM ET (US)
what political advantage did clovis gain when he converted to christianity
34
Father Bob
10-02-2006
08:06 AM ET (US)
What is Gregory of Tours definitin of sin?
  Messages 33-28 deleted by author between 07-22-2006 09:26 AM and 07-20-2006 02:01 AM
27
Sarah Signor
03-08-2003
11:00 PM ET (US)
I am reposting this from last sunday where I posted it on the other list from the syllabus link. Just to make sure it gets read.
I was really amazed by the Law of the Innocents-particularly in its view of women. Because the Virgin Mary was the mother of Christ, the redeemer, women as a whole become holy because they are 'the mother and the sister of Christs mother'. I had always been under the impression that this parallel was not really drawn, because the Virgin Mary was, well, a virgin and most women are not. Therefore what made the virgin so holy was her utter purity, something that most laywomen don't possess. However, here that is not the case. What further impressed me was the extent to which women were protected in the law, in that whether their death was at the hand of a man or at the hand of a fire, or dogs, or domesticated animals, etc., full fines were to be payed to Adamnan for their death. These objects and beasts were held to respect women as much as man. I was impressed that the Law valued women and children enough that their murder at the hand of a man was enough to deny him eternity, and deny eternity to those who have heard of the act and do not condemn the murderer and chastise him.
26
Marissa Bond
03-03-2003
01:42 PM ET (US)
What do pagans do?

Paganism, in the Medieval Christian definition, covered several different religions – basically, any religion that did not hold to a monotheistic God and Christ as savior. There were lists of ways to recognize pagans and to keep one’s own actions from being pagan as well. Much of what pagans were defined as doing involved the worship or veneration of earthly things, as well as seeking answers or signs in celestial movements, or even the brains of animals. Veneration of the dead or seeking signs from them were deemed as unchristian (although one may point out the veneration of dead saints with a certain amount of irony). Yet even simple hedonistic pleasures could gain the condemnation of being pagan – exuberant dancing, drunkenness, gluttony. The suppression of these actions may be seen as extreme, yes, but it must also be examined why these things were seen as pagan. Dancing and drinking were often common actions in pagan rituals, and hedonism has always been frowned upon by the Church as a distraction from worshipping God (although Biblically this is encouraged to some extent, (see Ephesians)). And the reasons produced by Eligius have a ring in certain places of Old Testament commands, particularly of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, where is specifically commands against soothsayers. Also, the chopping down of “sacred trees” dates back to the commands in Judges, where in taking over Canaan the Israelites were commanded to chop down the sacred trees, specifically those in worship of the goddess Asherah.
25
Katie McConnaughey
03-03-2003
09:55 AM ET (US)
Jumping off of Sarah’s topic, I, too, was fascinated by the role of women in the early Irish Church, as portrayed in the Law of Innocents. While intrigued by the parallel to the Virgin Mary, what truly stood out for me was the insistence of the society to include women in warfare: “The work which the best of women had to do, was to go to battle and battlefield, encounter and camping, fighting and hosting, wounding, and slaying.” Carrying her baby with her and her husband urging her on by whipping her, she would step to the front lines and fight. I find it interesting that as sacred as women appear to be in this text, in times of war were allowed and even encouraged to kill each other, and be flogged by their husbands, promoting battle. For although women were sacred and venerated as such, it seems that in this case, even dead women were valued and somewhat reminiscent of holy relics, as at that time, “it was the head of a woman, or her two breasts, which were taken as trophies.”
24
Emily Rosenberry
03-03-2003
07:40 AM ET (US)
Penance remits sins, but true penance, accoring to the Penitential of St. Columbanus, is "...to lament such things as have benn committed." So unless the penitent truly regrets his sin, the penance of fasting and recompensation of the victims' families isn't enough to absolve him, but if he means it, he can be forgiven by doing penance. There are different levels of penance set forth in The Penitential, mainly the amount of time that must be spent according to the sin and who commits it. If it is a cleric who is guilty, the time is much less than the time a bishop must spend in penance for the same sin. Also for crimes such as murder, the penance is not only expulsion, but a bread and water diet, and only after ten years of this exile can the penitent return home; whereas, if the sin is theft, the guily party must simply restore what was stolen and do penance on bread and water for a year. There are many varying levels of penance, but each sin is clearly stated and has a punishment attached. This system is meant to be harsh so that the punishment for a sin would act as a deterrent as well as a way of acheiving forgiveness.
23
Alexandra Polly
03-03-2003
12:53 AM ET (US)
I agree with the posting about -what Do pagans do? They live on their day to day life to the fullest. They are not concerned with their afterlife as much as they concern themselves with this life. This is a fundamental difference between them and the Christians. One connection that is made between these two groups states that "If we are the temple of G-d, why is the festivity of idols worshipped in the temple of G-d?" This statement by Maximus of Turin is evidence of how the positions of the pagans and the Christians come together. The people are to belive that they should not partake in these pagan actions because if they defile their bodies in any way, they are going against G-d's wishes and defiling his temple which is in the body of each of his followers.
22
Lyndsey Schutte
03-03-2003
12:15 AM ET (US)
What is holy to pagans?
The rituals and ideas that survive the first few generations of the conversion to christianity probabaly highlight the parts of the 'pagan' culture that were most important to them. Their footprints are left 'fossilized' in the literature, either in the form of outlawed practices and beliefs or as a new part of christian culture. (You are what you eat.) The practices that are outlawed include mainly divination and the worshipping of other gods/idols. (Does the christain community really hate nature? They're seen as eating bread and water a lot, but that is related to penitence; do they love rich foods other times? I'm not sure 'nature' bothers these christains, just the idols and evil practices, like divination, that is seen in these parts of nature. But anyways...)
What gets integrated into Christain culture? For one thing, the Eulogy of Saint Brigit is more of a vessel for the history of the great past kings than anything else. And in such a way, the types and characteristics of people that the Irish worshipped before become the same types of people that their saints were.
21
Marissa Bond
03-02-2003
11:33 PM ET (US)
I apologize, I know this is ancient, but I entirely posted it on the wrong page earlier.


How do you explain the conversion of Clovis?

The Medieval Period was well noted at a period of social and political unrest. As the Roman Empire weakened, the barbarian invaders gained control of the western part of the Empire. However, the various barbaric tribes were divided in their own systems of government, which was especially precarious as the conquering peoples were the minority in the land that they had obtained.
 In the Roman Empire, which had extended itself around and beyond the Mediterranean sea, religion was an effective way to try to unify the people. In much of the western part of Europe, Christianity in the doctrine of the Catholic Church had taken firm hold, at least in word and the minds of the governing nobles. Yet most of the invaders were pagans or Arian Christians, which differed in the opinion of the divinity of Christ. In Gaul, the Franks had gained control of most of the area, but there were a number of rival kings vying for full control. Clovis was only one in a number of kings, but his conversion to Christianity helped unite his subjects and give him added advantages, incliuding support from the Church.
 There is also some suggestion that Clovis truly did have at least some sincere emotional interests in his religion, as it has been said that he was deeply impressed by the miracles of the saints from Tours, and that even while still a pagan, he had always held a deferential attitude towards the Church (although it is possible that the deference was political in nature as well). Even after his death, the Bishop Nicetius had nothing but praises for him and commended him as an example to other barbarian kings. Gregory of Tours, however, places much of the credit for the conversion of Clovis on the influences of Clovis’ Christian wife, Clotilde, and portrays Clovis as very reluctant to let go of his pagan gods, and having doubts and demanding proof like Gideon.
20
Anne Colyn
03-02-2003
11:31 PM ET (US)
Pollution vs. what the pagans do...
In addition to Sarah Pagni's response I found it interesting to compare to a certain extend what we read about the pagan ritual to study the intestines or stomach of cattle. It is clear that the pagan tradition is unjust in the eyes of christianity, but, I wonder, doesn't this "process" of studying the dead, in this case the cattle, imply a concern for the health of an animal? I assume that the amoral lies in the heathen study of deciphering the supernatural powers in the lining of the stomach...
It almost seems that the study of the pagans is much more than "guiding the heathens" onto the right track... While some of the rituals condemned in "What Pagans Do" highlight the superstitions, and thus fears, that people in the Middle Ages held on to (i.e. animals, the stars and the moon, etc), it also seems that immorality is the main target in the condemnation of paganism. Examples are seen in the dismissal of adultry (prostitution), vanity, roman gods, and especially excessiveness of pleasure. The rejection of nature and demons does not seem to make strong enough an argument in my understanding.
Too bad they required a scapegoat to make their point...
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