Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 2 (Diarmaid MacCulloch)

The Reformation
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
MacCulloch, Diarmaid
The Reformation

Purchased online.

I bought and read all 800 pages of this tome on the Reformation. After grad school, I was reading a lot of history, mostly trying to fill in my generalist's knowledge of European history.

My knowledge remains general and fragmented.

History is a tough slog to read through most of the time. Good history books, i.e., those that are both thorough and readable, are few and far between.

I can't remember if this one qualifies or not. I seem to remember enjoying the read, despite not remember much if any of the book. It's odd to have read a such a large book with the intent of filling a hole in one's knowledge and then to have that hole still feel empty, n'est pas?

from The Reformation

Lurking in a little English country church, Preston Bissett in Buckinghamshire, is an object lesson in the difficulty of understanding the religious outlook of past generations. Holding up the arch to the entrance to the chancel, the most sacred part of the building, are two carved stone figures, sculpted sometime in the early fourteenth century. The figure on the north side, crouched on all fours under the weight of the arch, is displaying his ample buttocks towards the high altar, the place where, day by day before the Reformation, the priest of Preston presided at the mass, transforming the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of christ. Some later vandal has knocked the head off the carving, as with countless other carvings in Protestant Europe, but the buttocks are unscathed.

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