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The Case of Galileo

A Closed Question?

Annibale Fantoli

The “Galileo Affair” has been the locus of various and opposing appraisals for centuries: some view it as an historical event emblematic of the obscurantism of the Catholic Church, opposed a priori to the progress of science; others consider it a tragic reciprocal misunderstanding between Galileo, an arrogant and troublesome defender of the Copernican theory, and his theologian adversaries, who were prisoners of a narrow interpretation of scripture. In The Case of Galileo: A Closed Question? Annibale Fantoli presents a wide range of scientific, philosophical, and theological factors that played an important role in Galileo’s trial, all set within the historical progression of Galileo’s writing and personal interactions with his contemporaries. Fantoli traces the growth in Galileo Galilei’s thought and actions as he embraced the new worldview presented in On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, the epoch-making work of the great Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

Fantoli delivers a sophisticated analysis of the intellectual milieu of the day, describes the Catholic Church’s condemnation of Copernicanism (1616) and of Galileo (1633), and assesses the church’s slow acceptance of the Copernican worldview. Fantoli criticizes the 1992 treatment by Cardinal Poupard and Pope John Paul II of the reports of the Commission for the Study of the Galileo Case and concludes that the Galileo Affair, far from being a closed question, remains more than ever a challenge to the church as it confronts the wider and more complex intellectual and ethical problems posed by the contemporary progress of science and technology. In clear and accessible prose geared to a wide readership, Fantoli has distilled forty years of scholarly research into a fascinating recounting of one of the most famous cases in the history of science.
 
“This book is an excellent account of the trial and condemnation of Galileo by the Inquisition in 1633. It is a simplified and streamlined version adapted from the erudite book on the topic for which Fantoli is well known and highly respected among scholars. But like the erudite book this one is well balanced with respect to the contrasts of science vs. religion, Galileo vs. the Catholic Church, history vs. philosophy, and factual details vs. contemporary relevance.” —Maurice A. Finocchiaro, University of Nevada Las Vegas
 
"With his characteristic analytical power, new insights, and sharp eye for subtle nuances, Fantoli offers a highly contingent account of the Galileo Affair. He argues that Galileo's abjuration was not a foregone conclusion, but an unexpected turn two weeks before it occurred. His provocative conclusion puts this fine history to work today. He warns that new versions of the Galileo Affair lurk where the Catholic Church's position has joined disputable biblical interpretation to unsatisfactory dialogue with science, philosophy, other forms of Christianity, and other religions." —Michael H. Shank, University of Wisconsin-Madison
 
"This sage, sensitive account of one of the most infamous trials in history brims with new insights. Annibale Fantoli, uniquely qualified to explore the intricacies and implications of the case, has a finger on Galileo's pulse throughout the ordeal of his accusation and condemnation. Equally gripping is the author's depiction of the ongoing conflict between science and faith—the very struggle Galileo tried to avert—and what it portends for the future." —Dava Sobel, author of Galileo's Daughter and A More Perfect Heaven

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The Catholic Church and Democracy in Chile and Peru

Michael Fleet

Recent changes imposed by the Vatican may redefine the Chilean and Peruvian Church's involvement in politics and social issues. Fleet and Smith argue that the Vatican has been moving to restrict the Chilean and Peruvian Church's social and political activities. Fleet and Smith have gathered documentary evidence, conducted interviews with Catholic elites, and compiled surveys of lay Catholics in the region. The result will help chart the future of the Church and Chile and Peru.

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The Catholic Historical Review

Vol. 81 (1995) through current issue

The official organ of The American Catholic Historical Association,The Catholic Historical Reviewwas founded at The Catholic University of America (CUA) and has been published there since 1915. It is the only scholarly journal under Catholic auspices in the English-speaking world devoted to the history of the universal Church. It publishes articles, review articles, book reviews, and lists of books received in all areas of church history.

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Catholic Intellectuals and the Challenge of Democracy

Jay P. Corrin

In this sweeping volume, Corrin discusses the influences of Cecil and G. K. Chesterton, H. A. Reinhold, Hilaire Belloc, and many others on the development of Catholic social, economic, and political thought, with a special focus on Belloc and Reinhold as representatives of reactionary and progressive positions, respectively. He also provides an in-depth analysis of Catholic Distributists' responses to the labor unrest in Britain prior to World War I and later, in the 1930s, to the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War and the forces of fascism and communism.

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Catholics, Slaveholders, and the Dilemma of American Evangelicalism, 1835-1860

W. Jason Wallace

Although slaveholding southerners and Catholics in general had little in common, both groups found themselves relentlessly attacked in the northern evangelical press during the decades leading up to the Civil War. In Catholics, Slaveholders, and the Dilemma of American Evangelicalism, 1835–1860, W. Jason Wallace skillfully examines sermons, books, newspaper articles, and private correspondence of members of three antebellum groups—northern evangelicals, southern evangelicals, and Catholics—and argues that the divisions among them stemmed, at least in part, from disagreements over the role that religious convictions played in a free society. Focusing on journals such as The Downfall of Babylon, Zion’s Herald, The New York Evangelist, and The New York Observer, Wallace argues that northern evangelicals constructed a national narrative after their own image and, in the course of vigorous promotion of that narrative, attacked what they believed was the immoral authoritarianism of both the Catholic and the slaveholder. He then examines the response of both southerners and Catholics to northern evangelical attacks. As Wallace shows, leading Catholic intellectuals interpreted and defended the contributions made by the Catholic Church to American principles such as religious liberty and the separation of church and state. Proslavery southern evangelicals, while sharing with evangelicals in the North the belief that the United States was founded on Protestant values, rejected the attempts by northern evangelicals to associate Christianity with social egalitarianism and argued that northern evangelicals compromised both the Bible and Protestantism to fit their ideal of a good society. The American evangelical dilemma arose from conflicting opinions over what it meant to be an American and a Christian.

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Certain Sainthood

Canonization and the Origins of Papal Infallibility in the Medieval Church

by Donald S. Prudlo

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The Challenge of Being Baptist

Owning a Scandalous Past and an Uncertain Future

Bill J. Leonard

The largest Protestant denomination in the United States is in the midst of a serious identity crisis; many Baptists are revisiting or turning away from the tradition, leaving others to become increasingly uncertain that the denomination can remain viable. Here, however, noted Baptist historian Bill Leonard wades through the murky waters of the Baptist past and explores the historic commitments of this unique people—all in an effort to shed light on its contemporary dilemmas and evaluate the prospects for a Baptist future. While encouraging members of the faith to thoroughly and fairly evaluate their heritage—and its many blunders along the way—Leonard ultimately argues that the Baptists’ contentious “audacious witness” shown throughout its history still has a worthy role to play in the twenty-first century.

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A Child Shall Lead Them

Martin Luther King Jr., Young People, and the Movement

by Rufus Burrow Jr.

Half a century after some of its most important moments, the assessment of the Civil Rights Era continues. In this exciting volume, Dr. Rufus Burrow turns his attention to a less investigated but critically important byway in this powerful story—the role of children and young people in the Civil Rights Movement.

What role did young people play, and how did they support the efforts of their elders? What did they see—and what did they do?—that their elders were unable to envision? How did children play their part in the liberation of their people?

In this project, Burrow reveals the surprising power of youth to change the world.

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Children of Wrath

New School Calvinism and Antebellum Reform

Leo Hirrel

In an exciting reinterpretation of the early nineteenth century, Leo Hirrel demonstrates the importance of religious ideas by exploring the relationship between religion and reform efforts during a crucial period in American history. The result is a work that moves the history of antebellum reform to a higher level of sophistication.

Hirrel focuses upon New School Congregationalists and Presbyterians who served at the forefront of reform efforts and provided critical leadership to anti-Catholic, temperance, antislavery, and missionary movements. Their religion was an attempt to reconcile traditional Calvinist language with the prevalent intellectual trends of the time. New School theologians preserved Calvinist language about depravity, but they incorporated an assertion of nominal human ability to overcome sin and a belief in the fixed, immutable nature of truth.

Describing both the origins of New School Calvinism and the specific reform activities that grew out of these beliefs, Hirrel provides a fresh perspective on the historical background of religious controversies.

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Chinese Christians

Elites, Middlemen, and the Church in Hong Kong

Carl T. Smith

Every so often a work of history appears that radically changes our understanding of people, place and period. Chinese Christian is such a work. This book asks questions about Hong Kong that have never been asked before. It shows that the leaders of Chinese society had a far greater role in shaping early Hong Kong history than earlier historians had believed.

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