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Random Renaissance Era Quotes (Well, mostly)

The Renaissance and the Church

Even though there are some sharp contrasts, for the most part, the influence and prestige of the Catholic Church was declining. The humanistic thinking did accept the older church institutions that were deeply rooted in traditions and traditional ways of thinking.

In the past, the Catholic Church had been an important part of the system that was based on the allegiances between lords and vassals (the feudal system). During the Renaissance the demands of society shifted and became based on money instead of allegiances. The church had a difficult time adjusting to this new way of thinking. For example, the parish priests and monks had long served as the religious teachers of the peasants, but as the commercial class began to grow, the priests found that they knew very little about the needs of this new class of people.

The esteem of the church was also hurt as some church leaders violated the biblical laws they were entrusted to uphold and lived no differently than the secular merchants and political figures. This was compounded by the realization by the new monarchs that, in order for them to maintain power, the support of the church was not as important as in the past.

Even though the churches influence in politics was weakening, as can be seen by the Babylonian Captivity and the Great Schism, the popularity of religion was actually growing. This growth continued through the 14th and 15th centuries and reached a climax during the 16th century, known as the Reformation.

The Catholic Church in Decline

The papal court was humiliated when, in the early 14th century, the French king forced them to Avignon. This forced move made the churches highest leaders appear to be pawns of France. The church, instead of providing spiritual leadership and direction for the rapidly changing society and class, became preoccupied with its administration staff and processes and with the collection of revenue

The problems grew worse during the Great Schism, when rival popes competed for control of the church. The final outcome further weakened the political influence of the church.

There were worthy leaders of the Catholic Church during these times. Nicholas V (mid 15th century) and Pius II, who followed his papacy, were learned, pious and noble leaders of the church.

There were also other leaders, like Alexander VI (pope in 1492), Julius II and Leo X, who were chiefly concerned with politics, the promotion of their families and the patronage of the arts. These popes further weakened the ability of the Catholic Church to influence society and politics.

With its weakened influence, the church found its papal authority increasingly challenged, both locally and nationally. These challenges to the papal authority, known as heresy, flourished, and critics became more outspoken and numerous.

Religious Growth

The concern of the churches condition was a result of the strength of the church, not the weakness. The influence of the Catholic Church was weakening but there was ever increasing popularity of religion throughout all parts of Europe.

Religion began to change. Preachers, like Savonarola of Florence, called on sinners to repent. One movement, that grew in part from the German mystic, Echhart, grew in western Germany in the Rhineland area. This movement believed in direct revelations from God without the church as an intermediary.

The communal and metaphysical faith of the Catholic Church was challenged in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands by a movement known as the “devotion moderna”. This group emphasized individual and practical faith as opposed to the communal and metaphysical faith of the Catholic Church.

These movements, along with their differing beliefs, posed a threat to traditional religion. Popular heretical movements continued to grow and continued to challenge papal authority. Some of these movements even proposed doing away with the Catholic Church as an institution. During the 14 century, British philosopher John Wycliffe began formalizing his attacks in his teachings and writings. A Bohemian, Jan Hus, also wrote of these things.

These heretics became popular because of their attacks, but they remained as a small minority. The majority of the reformers hoped to change the Catholic Church, not remove it.

A particularly influential theologian, Jean de Gerson, at the University of Paris in the early 1500’s supported the conciliar theory. This theory aimed at reforming the Catholic Church by removing the supreme authority of the pope and placing it in a general council.

The call for reform was not just from outsiders, Nicholas of Cusa (the “papal legate” or official representative of the pope) pursued church reform policies directly aimed at monks who had violated the monastic vows.

The most successful reformer of all was Cardinal Ximenes of Spain. He set standards for training, discipline and qualifications for the Spanish clergy. None of these reforms spread throughout all of Europe. There were a lot of people who were unhappy with the church but there were also lots of people who thought the church could be improved with basic reforms.

A touch of “Swan Song” and a dash of “The Stand”…Very good post-apocalyptic tale in the mode and mood of R. McCammon’s “Swan Song” and S. King’s “The Stand”. ★★★★★

Excerpt from Troop of Shadows:

Colleyville, Texas

Dani cursed the weight of her backpack. The final two items from the ransacked Walgreens, crammed in as an afterthought ten minutes ago, might cost her everything. After surviving the last twelve months of hell only to be thwarted now by a can of Similac and a twelve-pack of Zest soap, would be sadly anticlimactic. Despite running at a full sprint down a dark suburban street, dodging overflowing garbage cans while eluding three men who would steal her hard-won tubes of Neosporin and likely rape and kill her in the process, she snorted at the thought of a fictional headline: Young Woman’s Life Ends Tragically but Zestfully Clean.

Damn it, she would ditch the backpack. She could come back tomorrow night for it, but right now staying alive outweighed any future benefit its contents might provide. As her pursuers rounded the corner behind her, she darted across the front lawn of a house and leaped over a cluster of dead juniper shrubs. A year ago, those shrubs had been green, manicured, and providing curb appeal to the upscale neighborhood; they functioned now as a hurdle component in the obstacle course Dani navigated on most nights.

She angled toward the side of the house and around the corner, only to come to an abrupt stop next to a six-foot barricade. Residents of these sprawling bedroom communities situated between Dallas and Fort Worth clung to their privacy fences as fiercely as their rural counterparts did to their firearms. Why all those day-trading dads and cheerleader moms required such secrecy was beyond Dani. She didn’t care. All that mattered was how difficult they made her nightly forages. Only idiots or people with a death wish traveled alone on the streets anymore. The clever ones navigated through backyards and drainage ditches, shadowed easements and alleyway, avoiding open spaces and other humans.

Especially humans traveling in groups.

Stealth and caution were second nature to her now, and she was pissed at herself for loading up the backpack with more weight than she could easily carry at a full run.

Rookie mistake.

She flung the pack into the undergrowth of a once meticulous garden, making a mental note of the enormous red tip photinia which camouflaged the bundle in a leafy shroud. She hoped to be alive the next day to retrieve it.

She clambered up the fence, finding a toehold on a warped plank, and squirmed over the top. A silver fingernail of a moon did little to illuminate the backyard. Weak starlight reflected off the inky surface of a half-empty, kidney-shaped swimming pool. Her Nikes gripped the concrete deck as she skirted the murky water and made a beeline for the back of the yard that was, of course, separated from its neighbor by a privacy fence. It was a tall one too — a full ten feet. There were no bushes or trees to use for leverage either. She scanned the area for anything that might serve as a step ladder.

Of all the yards she could have chosen for her escape, she’d picked one with a damn ten-foot fence.

Her heart raced from the sprint, but not from panic. Gone was the young woman from a year ago, the full-time floundering college dropout and part-time surly Starbucks barista who spent too much time reading books and not enough time looking for a job that would allow her to move out of her parents’ house. She was too smart for her own good, everyone had told her. She should have taken that secretarial position in North Dallas, but she would have lost her sanity in that environment. The tedious filing, the ringing phones, the office politics — in other words, hell on earth for a girl with an IQ over a hundred and fifty.

Despite the recent horrors, she’d come into her own at last, after twenty-one years of meandering through life unfocused and unchallenged. The extra twenty pounds she’d been carrying courtesy of Freddy’s cheeseburgers and Taco Bell burritos were gone, thanks to her newfound self-discipline and endless hours of Krav Maga training with Sam. Not only had she transformed her body, she’d elevated and strengthened her mind as well. Before the power had gone out, she’d watched countless tutorials on T’ai Chi, Qigong, and Buddhist meditation. During that same window — when people were beginning to get sick, but before most of them had died — she’d combed book stores and libraries within a fifteen-mile radius. When the country went dark and people realized that life-saving information was no longer available with a few keystrokes, Dani had amassed reference material on subjects as diverse as hydroponics and combat first aid, ancient meat drying techniques and bomb making. Between martial arts lessons with Sam, she spent every spare minute absorbing the printed esoteric knowledge like a greedy lizard on a sun-drenched rock.

Knowledge was survival.

When the first of the men slithered over the fence into the backyard, she hadn’t found anything to use as a foothold. Another figure followed behind him. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and released it from her lungs, slow and measured, then took off at a full run toward them. While she ran, fingers slid down to a leather sheath secured to her belt. Two seconds before she reached the first of her would-be assailants, a Ka-Bar — the grandaddy of tactical knives — was in her hand.

Dani used momentum and every ounce of her one-hundred-twenty pound frame to slam the first man into the second, knocking both assailants off-balance and unprepared for her next move: a vicious stab to the groin of the first. He collapsed to his knees. She followed with a backhand movement, opening up the throat of his companion. A similar gesture to the man with the injured groin silenced his moaning.

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