New Humanism or Medieval Period b - RR160D7b
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“Do unto him what the good simple women of our country say hath been done to their sons, when these have set their love elsewhere and their mothers cannot wean them therefrom. Sure it is that when fathers and mothers be dead and stepfathers and stepmothers that have stepsons rail at them and scold them and repulse them and take no thought for their sleeping, nor for their food and drink, their hose and their shirts, nor for their other needs or affairs, and these same children find elsewhere a good refuge and counsel from some other woman, that receiveth them unto herself and taketh thought to warm them by some poor gruel with her, to give them a bed and keep them clean and mend their hosen, breeches, shirts and other clothes, then do these same children follow her and desire to be with her and to sleep and be warmed between her breasts, and they be altogether estranged from their mothers and fathers, that before took no heed of them, and now be fain to get them back and have them again; but it may not be, for these children hold more dear the company of strangers that think and care for them, than of their kinsfolk that care no whit for them. Then they lament and cry and say that these same women have bewitched their children and that the lads be spell bound and cannot leave them and are never at ease save when they are with them. But, whatever they may say, it is no witchcraft, but it is for the sake of the love, the care, the intimacies, joys and pleasures that these women show unto them in all things and, on my soul, there is none other enchantment. Wherefore, dear sister, I beseech you thus to bewitch and bewitch again your husband that shall be, and beware of roofless house and of smoky fire, and scold him not, but be unto him gentle and amiable and peaceable. Have a care that in winter he have a good fire and smokeless and let him rest well and be well covered between your breasts, and thus bewitch him.[00:03:06]
And thus you shall preserve and guard him from all...
And thus you shall preserve and guard him from all discomforts and give him all the ease that you can and serve him and cause him to be well served in your house. And you shall look to him for outside things for if he be a good man he will take even more care and trouble over them than you wish and by doing all that I have said you will make him always miss you and have his heart with you and with your loving service and will shun all other houses, all other women, all other services and households, all will be not to him save you alone if you think of him as aforesaid and so on the road husbands will think of their wives and no trouble will be a burden to them for the hope and love they will have of their wives who they will long to see, even as poor hermits, penitence and fasting hermit monks long to see the face of Jesus Christ. And husbands thus served will never desire to abide anywhere else where or in any other company but will withhold, withdraw and abstain themselves therefrom. All the rest will seem to them but a bed of stones compared with their homes.”
Now I think that’s very interesting and very revealing as to the practicality and the simple Christian outlook of the people of that time. There’s nothing romantic about that. It’s down to earth. Preparing a wife for her second husband. He was totally delighted with her but he wanted, and it was his joy and pride in life, to prepare her properly for a good young man to marry her in a few years when he died. He didn’t want her to wait a long time as a widow, get married as quickly as you can but to the right man. Well we don’t know what happened but we have a pretty good guess because she kept the letters apparently and prized them and passed them along in her family so obviously it all worked out and it is a very interesting aspect of the period. It makes clear the difference between their era and ours but within a century or two that note disappeared, why? Because romanticism came in and the idea of romantic love. [00:06:00]
And this of course made the kind of common sense attitude...
And this of course made the kind of common sense attitude that this man represented hopelessly out of date. Romantic love thrives on frustration, it likes to feel sorry for itself, and the essence of romantic love is that there be insuperable problems, star crossed lovers, and that it go from frustration to frustration and romantic love dies when it can get the one it loves whereas the kind of thing this French man represented thrives rather with realization. The great classic of the era that developed before too long, the great classic of romantic love was Tristan and Isolde and of course it set the temper for romantic love to which to this day has lingered. Someone falling in love with another person’s wife and going from complication to complication into adultery, into frustration, tragedy and death. The whole of the romantic agony, the idea of living happily ever after is alien to romantic love, whereas this husband and his young wife, the ideal that was represented was of living very happily together and the wife living happily ever after when he was gone. And making provision for that. So that what he represented in his letters to his wife was a genuinely Christian perspective in an unusual situation, one we’re not familiar with, but all the more revealing because it was such an unusual situation, a man over sixty, a girl of fifteen, being prepared by her husband’s letters, being trained for another husband. It hardly is the normal thing today but it certainly was a godly thing. So the medieval period we must say in spite of all its sins had a great deal in it that was remarkably Christian and I cite in this chapter cases where well into the late middle ages in England, I found an instance where the congregation of a church laid down the law to the priest that he was going to stop quoting classical poetry and classical authors in his sermons and give them nothing but the bible. [00:09:03]
There was a lot of that throughout the middle ages...
There was a lot of that throughout the middle ages. And we forget that a lot of the people did have the bible in England, for example, Wycliffe had translated the bible into English and the [unknown] existed right down to the reformation. Going around having secret meetings, bible study groups, so that there was in England when the Reformation came about a tremendous body of people who just surfaced who had right along been studying their bible and knew it. So that by the grace of God the word of God itself remained always before the people even in the darkest era of papal power and royal tyrannies. Thus the medieval period, a very interesting, a very exciting period, a period which had a great deal of youthfulness and vitality to it, a freshness about it as well as a great deal which we must clearly regard as heretical is a period of great interest. I think one thing sums up and this is from a catholic historian, what happened as gradually the theology that came out of Rome departed more and more from the faith as well as their moral practice.
“The pictures that show us worshippers in the early medieval period are very revealing. They show people praying with their hands open expectedly the attitude of receiving and their faces turned up joyfully toward heaven. Towards the end of the middle ages the prayers show people with their hands like this, folded, cowering in prayer, afraid, because they did not have a saving knowledge. They were overwhelmed by the burden of their sin and guilt and they had no preaching of the word.”
And so an era that began with a sense of joy and of light, and when you read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales you can feel the freshness of spring throughout, it’s a joyful thing, closed with a grim note of darkness. And the Reformation came to lighten that darkness.
Let us close with prayer. [00:12:07]
Almighty God our Heavenly Father we thank Thee that...
Almighty God our Heavenly Father we thank Thee that throughout the ages Thy witness has always been present among men, Thy word, Thy truth proclaimed. We thank Thee for the saints of old who in humble as well as in great ways set forth Thy truth, were faithful unto Thee in their calling and rejoiced in Thy so great salvation. Make us faithful in our age that we may witness a good witness and in Thy name conquer. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Are there any questions now concluding our lesson? Let me say before we do that next week we will have the fifteenth chapter on the Reformation. So please read that for next week and to remind you that Sunday in Westwood before our meeting from nine thirty to ten forty five we will have here a very outstanding recording of Handel’s Messiah. Now are there any questions? Yes?
[Unintelligible Question] [00:14:00]
[Rushdoony] Oh there a number of books, the book I...
[Rushdoony] Oh there a number of books, the book I was reading from this time is Monks and Civilizations, I don’t recall which one I cited, there are so many here, there are some very interesting things on the Irish monks I don’t recall now which ones I cited unfortunately. Yes?
[Rushdoony] Right well they are basically, the question was to differentiate between the philosophy of Aristotle, Aristellianism, Plato and Platonism and Neo-Platonism. Now they all come out of Greek philosophy. Greek philosophy held that it was dialectical. Now dialecticism says that there are two ultimates which are basically opposite to one another and it tries to affirm both of them. It’s like saying you worship both God and Satan, you see, that would be a dialectical position, you regard them both as equally ultimate. Now for Greek dialectical thought the two ultimates are spirit and matter which they saw as two different things totally both of them equally ultimate, in other words, having a position like God, being ultimate. Not created but both always there. Now how were you going to unite these two? How are you going to have any contact between the one world and the other? Now Aristotle tried to bring the two together and say you had to maintain the two in a dialectical tension, you couldn’t surrender the one or the other. And he tended to emphasize the unity, bringing them together and the state as the basic agency in society, the saving order, because man was for him essentially a political or rational animal. The state was the idea or form or mind or spirit in the world and people and the natural world were in a sense the matter of the state. So he was bringing form and matter together I the unity of the state. Now Plato of course also unified things in the state, Plato’s Republic, a communist order. But Plato tended to emphasize ideas or the realm of the mind and the spirit somewhat more than matter and with the Neo-Platonists this ended up by saying the world of matter, the world of the state, the world of the flesh was nothing and the Neo-Platonists therefore tended to disregard anything that was of the flesh. So they became aesthetics, they would go into the desert, they would torment the body, you read about some of the early hermits in the church who went through all such things before they came around the pagan Neo-Platonist monks and hermits were doing this. And these were simply converted and carried over some of this Neo-Platonism into their thinking. [00:17:56]
So you have this dialecticism of form and matter or...
So you have this dialecticism of form and matter or mind and matter in all Greek thinking but progressively from Aristotle to Plato to Neo-Platonism the emphasis is less and less on the unity and more and more on the spirit or on mind so that the world of matter becomes less and less important. Does that help explain it? Any other questions?
[Rushdoony] Oh yes there were two kinds of universities, some were students who would get together to study and would call someone to teach them. Others were scholars who had come together and formed a school and then they would, and since advertise themselves to bring the scholars. However they had one system which was very interesting¸ you could be on the faculty but your income depended on the number of students you had, you see. So that if the students didn’t feel that you had anything to teach they wouldn’t go to you. And a very successful teacher would have quite a sizable income. However most of them were members of various monastic orders so they would give it to the order. But a professor had an income in terms of his popularity. And something of this, it isn’t a perfect system, something of this would be out of line today because there are some, many, universities where they will have a man getting twenty thousand dollars a year to teach some out of the way subject where he may have one or two students. And this with taxpayer funds. Yes?
[Unintelligible Question] [00:20:45]
[Rushdoony] Well first the monasteries and the priests...
[Rushdoony] Well first the monasteries and the priests were separate. The priests were attached to churches, congregations. The monasteries were made up of people who came together to serve God in a community. And they would be scholars, they would be farmers, they would be evangelists traveling from here to there preaching, they would do a variety of things. They lived in community whereas the priest was a married man throughout most of the middle ages serving a parish. So there was a very real difference between the two. Yes?
[Rushdoony] They were all carried on either by bishops or by the monasteries, the monks. They took care of all these things and of course you had various lay Christian groups, Christian business men who would establish hospitals and schools and so on and endow it. That was the origin of foundations. Foundations were an origin entirely Christian, they were organizations for the promotion of various Christian causes by Christian business men.
[Rushdoony] Well sometimes in a school and sometimes by studying under someone, it depended on the area, you see, we must disabuse ourselves that there was one united church with one common form in every country. It was what was happening was that gradually Rome was trying to gain control and finally did and then lost everything with the Reformation. But it would vary sometimes from one community to another. It would be widely different from one country to another and in the same country you might have a dozen different ways of carrying on the church life and so on. In many cases say a feudal lord would run a church absolutely and he would name, say, a younger son of his to be the priest because he’d give the first born the lands and estates and he would make the other sons priests. And sometimes he would consecrate them as priests when they were eight, ten years old and make them bishops by the time or before in some cases they were in their teens because he controlled those churches and he wanted to have them there so that he could feed his sons into them. Now this was the system of patronages by local lords, it was fought by the bishops and in some cases by Rome throughout the Middle Ages, they never overcame it entirely. [00:24:10]
And it is interesting that in Rome they never overcame...
And it is interesting that in Rome they never overcame it either but today the only almost only orthodox congregations in the Church of England are these patronage churches where a township or a lord names the rector. And the arch bishop of Canterbury can’t do a thing about it and the Bishop can’t do a thing about it. Well, now those are the only conservative or orthodox churches in England. Yes?
[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, Saint Augustine was a bishop of Hippo in North Africa and he did not consider himself as under Rome but as a partner with Rome, in other words, he was a bishop and the bishop of Rome was another bishop. This did not make the one lord over the other. That was the attitude.
[Rushdoony] No. No, he did live in Italy for a time but he was from North Africa and he served there finally and while he was dying the barbarians were taking the city where he had his bishop-hood. He was named by acclamation which was the common way of naming a bishop in those days in many areas, this was another way, see, sometimes a lord would name them, but in many areas in the early church especially and it gradually died out it was by acclamation, that is, the people would simply demand that somebody be named bishop and they would very often single out someone who they regarded as a superior man if the people were of superior faith and they demanded Augustine who didn’t want to be bishop and he was made bishop.
[Unintelligible Question] [00:26:37]
[Rushdoony] Well, now the origin of the bishop was...
[Rushdoony] Well, now the origin of the bishop was this. In the apostolic church you see Saint Paul and the other apostles going from place to place starting churches. Now they would be the pastors of these churches and they would write letters as Paul did to these churches and they would name someone who they ordained, we would call them an elder, to carry on the work there. Well, as time passed you see, various men who were successors of the apostles would sometimes be say pastor in a city church and then they would make a continual tour, evangelizing, in the countryside. And the, because they worked first in the cities in those days the apostles went to city to city because the way the church began was to go to the Jewish Synagogues and make their first converts there and the Jews who were in the cities. An the countryside was pagan and the word pagan means country person, a rural person, that’s its literal meaning in origin. So as they go to place to place, you see, they would gradually not only have the church in town where they were part of the time but they would have many five, ten, thirty, forty little congregations meeting in homes. And they would name a layman, an elder or presbyter, to take charge of these home study groups, these home churches. Now that’s how the bishopric developed. So you could call him a minister who had a number of elders. And in those days the elders exclusively and this is what an elder is properly, someone who is carrying on work in a particular place. A meeting has been started and which the pastor visits regularly and in between times the elder is carrying it on. So gradually as these developed into churches the one was called bishop and the other the presbyter or pastor. So in a sense neither the Presbyterian nor the episcopal method is entirely in terms of the original. They both are outgrowths of the early church practice and both have departed from it. Yes? [00:29:24]
[Rushdoony] Yes! Well that’s what it meant then too but you see since they had conquered and were in the cities when they would talk about working with those who had no witness to them they were talking about the pagans, the country people. There’s no witness to them so they are going out to the pagans. This was in the early century. Yes?
[Rushdoony] No, [General laughter] the women went to convert schools very commonly. So this girl of fifteen you see could read, her husband was writing letters which indicates that she had education. And it wasn’t education in our sense, that is, education in reading, writing and arithmetic, it was education in how to manage his estate and how to find the right husband and how to handle the second husband. [Laughter]
[Rushdoony] No I don’t think that’s fair to him because he makes it clear that he was delighted with her. But he’s also telling her and reviewing things over and over with her because he wants her to be able to be the perfect wife for a second husband and to know exactly how to manage the estate and the affairs and to choose the right man. And not to feel, you see, after all he was an older man of some means and she would naturally defer to him as she did from their wedding night as he says. Well, when she married say in five or ten years some young fellow her age, twenty or twenty five or thirty whatever age she remarried, just because they were of like age he didn’t want her to feel that well I don’t have to do all those things I did and I married a very wonderful older man who was very good to me and gave me all of this. Because in a sense you see the shoe would be on her foot so to speak because she would be going into that second marriage with a great deal. [00:32:33]
[Rushdoony] Well that’s a very good question how was property protected in the medieval period. Now when you go over some centuries, let us say from the year 1000 to the year about 1500, five hundred years of history and medieval history. It’s very easy to find eras of great unrest, of war, of looting and robbing. But what we have to say is well those things happened but didn’t they also have a great deal of peace in between and we have to say yes. That’s a very interesting thing that assassinations were virtually unknown during the whole of the middle ages. A very remarkable thing. Which indicates there was a fundamental sense of law. Now this does not mean they were not sometimes very brutal to somebody who was a tyrant and through legal means was being brought to justice. But the merchants did go around sometimes they would have to travel in caravans as it were in order to have safety so that it was quite normal to wait in a city outside a gate and for a whole procession to go together so that a robber wouldn’t waylay them. So taking precautions they moved around safely, they moved goods around, they moved money from here to there and they did it with fairly reasonable security. When you realize that they would move goods from China to England in those days you realize that they had to have quite a bit of law and order. Yes?
[Rushdoony] Yes the question was since education for women was so specialized in that day wouldn’t it be wise if it was so today and I think of course the answer is an obvious yes. Women should be educated in terms of their life as a woman. It doesn’t mean that their education is any the less capable, in fact, a woman in terms of scripture is a competent manager and an assistant in management of her husband’s estate. And it would be much better if women today had more training in business administration and related subjects, the kind of mathematics that are related to that, management of estates and so much of the wealth of the country is in the hands of widows today. And less of the nonsense they get. Because a woman doesn’t need geometry and most men don’t either. Our education today, a lot of it, for men and women is nonsense. [00:36:27]
Any other questions? Well if not our time is just about...
Any other questions? Well if not our time is just about up and there are no more chapters to give out but if some of you did not get some of the back chapters we have one or two available for those of you who have paid and failed to get them because you were not here.