New Holocausts insights: 3-16/17-13
The distortion of literalism: 3-19-13

Homing in on religious history: 3-18-13

Having just passed St. Patrick's Day, we move on to today, March 18, on which nothing of historical significance in the field of religion happened. Right?

Demolay_logoWell, not quite. Oh, indeed, today is March 18, but you simply cannot pick a day that is not the anniversary of some birth, death or event that helped to share religious history. And, if you ask me, we'd all be a bit more wise if we'd pay attention to those historical events as they pass by on the calendar.

Today, for instance, is the 890th anniversary of the opening of the First Lateran Council. It was the first of the ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church to meet in the West, namely Rome. The council didn't have a big agenda but focused on the right to choose replacement clergy. (The Holy Roman Emperor had been naming bishops and Pope Calixtus II forged an agreement with him to stop it. The council ratified that agreement.)

Nearly 200 years later, on March 18, 1314, Philip the Fair ordered 39 French Knights Templars burned at the stake. One of them was the famous Jacques de Molay, after whom the Order of DeMolay is named. This organization, which aims to prepare young men to live useful and moral lives, has its headquarters in Kansas City. Or, as we used to say or DeMolay when I was a member of the order in my teen-age year, "whose see is in Kansas City."

See how this works? You connect with historical events and suddenly you find yourself in your home city today.

Well, there are other religious significant events that occurred on March 18, but you can find them yourself. One limited place to start is with An Almanac of the Christian Church by William D. Blake. It's on my bookshelf, but you can't have my copy.

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Frank Bruni of The New York Times has a good idea for the Catholic Church under its new pope, Francis I: "dwell less in the bedroom, more in the soup kitchen." I agree that the church seems to speak with more moral authority and wisdom when discussing economic matters than it does when speaking about matters of sexuality. And the former matter needs lots of attention.


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