FREE DOC ´ READER How the Irish Saved Civilization The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe ¹ 9780385418492

BOOK How the Irish Saved Civilization The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe

FREE DOC ´ READER How the Irish Saved Civilization The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe ¹ 9780385418492 Ê [PDF / Epub] ☉ How the Irish Saved CiviLy lovingly even playfully preserved the west's written treasures With the return of stability in Europe these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning Thus the Irish not only were conservators of civilization but became shapers of the medieval mind putting their uniue stamp on western culture I'm Irish Don't let my last name Zimmerman fool you I'm the proud son of a guy whose surname unfortunately obscures the fact that my mother of whom I'm also a proud son is 100 percent Irish so assuming my dad has a little Irish in him who doesn't? I'm at least 50 percent Not sure why that's so important to me but it is There's a mystiue to Irishness that simply isn't there with other countries of distant origins Ireland is ever green it's charmed and charming thick with thin space So you would think that by now I would have made my pilgrimage there But I haven't; Ireland remains a place of fanciful imagination for me You would also think that by now a proud wannabe Irishman would have read the 1995 national bestseller How the Irish Saved Civilization but again you would be wrong It's been on my shelf for at least fifteen years waiting for me to finally crack the spine and dig into it I'm not sure what kept me otherwise occupied; it might be that my copy has a very distracting manufacturing error on the cover the spot gloss over the title is offset by about an inch or it might be that I have so much time sensitive reading to do that I just left this one slow cooking on the back burner or it may be that I know that calling myself Irish is absurd and vaguely insulting to people who actually are from Ireland so I felt guilty and avoided the uncomfortable feeling Whatever 2012 is the Year of Overdue Books so I swallowed my pride and indulged my self perception and dug in How the Irish Saved Civilization is popular history at its apex Part of a series of audacious arguments from Thomas Cahill The Hinges of History this one observes that the fall of the Roman Empire and the corresponding neglect of the archives of Western Civilization was paralleled by the Christianization of Ireland whose nascent monks saw their calling as twofold with no real opportunity to experience the Red Martyrdom of persecution unto death for their faith the Irish took first to Green Martyrdom or the cloistered life of studying the Scriptures and the works of the early church The prodigality of the Irish mind from p 131 In Patrick's world all beings and events come from the hand of a good God who loves human beings and wishes them success And though that success is of an ultimate kind and therefore does not preclude suffering all nature indeed the whole of the created universe conspires to mankind's good teaching succoring and saving was such that enthusiasm for these early works extended to pagan classics and other ancient culture Irish monks became archivists for the ancient West at a time when Roman civilization could no longer be bothered by its own history its own legacy Simply archiving history wouldn't save civilization of course And the Irish historically were not known for sitting around all day Irish folk history told compellingly by Cahill is lusty and brazen sometimes violent and always earthy painting a portrait of a culture consumed with life Such virility informs monasticism in uniue ways and the Green Martyrs eventually created an outlet for Irish wanderlust with White Martyrdom self surrender that involved taking to sea and going where the waves took you White Martyrs went everywhere some undoubtedly to their death and some of them wound up in Europe where they reintroduced Europe's classics to itself Not only Western civilization's culture was restored but a culture of being cultured was introduced the love of learning and the life of the mind and ethical responsibility that flows from it can be traced back to the missionary efforts of these White Martyrs Thomas Cahill made me want to be Irish not less His writing is elegant and exhilarating; you assume the truth of his absurdist claim that a tiny island in the North Atlantic known mostly for famine fantasy and fatalism gave Western civilization its life and soul back I'm struck by the lessons from Cahill's take on European history for people today invested in the mission of the church There are plenty of parallels between late antiuity and the modern day from the comparable dominance and moral vulnerability of ancient Rome and the contemporary United States to the increasing cultural irrelevance of the Christian church Cahill does a great job of noting the different worldviews of the two great Confessors of the era Bishop Augustine of Hippo and Patrick of Ireland one who developed an intricate and complex theology that over time proved oppressive and confining the other whose theology was informed by and responsive to the people who surrounded it Patrick's Christianity focused as it is on God's good desire for his creation is welcoming than Augustine's which emphasized the fall from grace and led to an emphasis on human depravity and eternal conscious punishment If the church wants to win some it could stand to learn from Patrick's winsome approach From the last paragraph of Cahill's bookPerhaps history is divided into Romans and Catholics or better catholics The Romans are the rich and powerful who run things their way and must always accrue because they instinctively believe that there will never be enough to go around; the catholics as their name implies instinctively believe that all humanity makes one family that every human being is an eual child of God and that God will provide If our civilization is to be saved forget about our civilization which as Patrick would say may pass 'in a moment like a cloud or smoke that is scattered by the wind' if we are to be saved it will not be by Romans but by saints

Thomas Cahill Í How the Irish Saved Civilization The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe TEXT

From the fall of Rome to the rise of Charlemagne the dark ages learning scholarship and culture disappeared from the European continent The great heritage of western civilization from the Greek and Roman classics to Jewish and Christian works would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and wom Mind numbingly written building up to a nearly inconseuential conclusion on how Irish monks might have helped preserve some of Europe's classic literature I'm descended from the Irish and was looking forward to a little nationalist pride but this failed by underdelivering from its title and being nearly unreadable from the first chapter It hurts even worse to hear that the claims may have been false

BOOK Å How the Irish Saved Civilization The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe Í Thomas Cahill

How the Irish Saved Civilization The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval EuropeEn of unconuered Ireland In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little known hinge of history Thomas Cahill takes us to the island of saints and scholars the Ireland of St Patrick and the Book of Kells Here far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent monks and scribes laborious I do get why this book on How the Irish Saved Civilization was a bestseller Not only is it the perfect gift for St Patrick's Day it is entertaining and readable But I also found it superficial and not reliable It may be the contrast with some really fine histories and biographies I've read lately but several things in this book made it suspect to me Cahill isn't a historian The short biography at the end says only that he has a MFA in Film and Dramatic Literature and that he has studied theology His pro Catholic bias is notable throughout He even takes gratuitous slams at Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses I don't claim a writer of a solid history has to be a historian some of those great histories and biographies recently read were by journalists And all writers have their take from conservative to Marxist that are evident to me But notably the good ones whatever their background or worldview have pages of sources and notes to back up their claims this didn't But the reason I ended up feeling the book was dubious was the actual content starting with the title and the very premise Irish monks saved civilization by preserving classical literature Other reviewers have pointed out that the Western world isn't the whole of civilization Even as Cahill at one point conflates the whole of the civilized world with the Roman Empire What about China for instance? And others preserved the old Latin learning Not just in Europe the Eastern Roman Empire remained in existence until 1453 Cahill though claims the Irish were liberal in what they copied than those on the continent And of the Eastern Romans he claimed that the literature of ancient Greece were well enough preserved at Byzantium but Latin literature would almost certainly surely have been lost without the Irish I find that hard to credit They didn't read Vergil at Constantinople?I think part of why I also find it hard to swallow his encomium to Christianity as a preserver of classical Greek and Roman civilization is that it also did so much to destroy it One poignant illustration of that is the fate of the works of Sappho Cahill himself notes that among the treasures of antiuity lost were almost all her poetry What he doesn't tell you is that her poems were preserved until nearly AD 1000 at least according to A Book of Woman Poets when a wrathful church destroyed whatever it could find In 1073 her writings were publicly burned in Rome and Constantinople by order of Pope Gregory VIII So I guess I wonder why is it these great gift givers of civilization didn't preserve her for us?But Cahill doesn't give me a good answer for this especially because so little of the book even focuses on that part of the story We don't get to Ireland at all until Part III starting on page 71 The section that tells us how the Irish saved this learning doesn't begin until Part VI on page 145 in a book of 218 pages Between that we get a biography of St Patrick who Cahill claimed was the first human being in the history of the world to speak out uneuivocally against slavery And he'd be wrong by nearly a millennium look up the Cyrus Cylinder called the first charter of human rights from the Persian king who ended the Jewish Babylonian exile a biblical scholar such as Cahill should know better Other things irked me Particularly the comparison of the barbarian hordes that destroyed Rome to the Mexicans Haitians and other dispossessed peoples seeking illegal entry to the United States It's a point he repeats at the end and seemed all the ironic considering Cahill's condemnation of the prejudice their fellow Catholics the Irish experienced in America It's not that there weren't interesting points in the book I'd like to read about Such as the case for Augustine's Confessions as the first real autobiography and story of a soul and the indomitable Brigid of Kildare an abbess with the power of a bishop Cahill might even be right in his take on history but I didn't find the case presented in his book convincing