But I would, and have, lived in Italy, which is a socially cohesive nation. What this raises, and this is the other point that Stark makes, is that there are good religions and bad ones, to put it bluntly. These sorts of societies are the type that outlaw too many things, whether it be mechanical clocks or fundamental human freedoms such as self-expression. But these sorts of societies are not just legislatively restrictive, they are culturally suffocating. The Ottoman Empire did have printing, but it failed to catch on, amazingly. What Stark has to say about religions seeing history on either a downward or an upward slope, and their picture of the universe as rational or otherwise, is clearly important.
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This is where theology comes in. The concept of God is not univocal. It does not mean one thing and one thing only. There are profoundly differing visions of God in the world, and these dictate the sort of societies that we have built for ourselves.
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Our politicians love to speak as if all religions worship the same God. This is true — there is only one God after all — but misleading.
It matters how you worship Him. If you adhere to an utterly transcendent vision of God, believing God to be above human understanding, then this will shape your view of the world and of human society.
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If however, you believe that the human mind can grasp the truth about God through analogy, as Catholics believe, then your vision of the world will be very different. Consider: while Gianlorenzo Bernini was creating sculptures such as St Teresa in Ecstasy , Ottoman artists were still just about producing some very pretty tiles in Iznik. This contrast in artistic achievement was not an accident — the culture of 17th century Rome, and that of the Ottoman Empire at the same period, were products of differing visions of God.
But only one of those visions was the right one. Christopher Murphy worked for Glamour magazine and as a teacher before he felt a call to work with Catholic apostolates. Subscribe to our mailing list. Russ Hutto. December 14, 0.
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