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Terrell DG, Role of the Church (Scribd)

Terrell DG, Role of the Church (Scribd)

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Published by David G Terrell
Between 500 and 1000 CE, the Roman Catholic Church played three significant roles in the continuity and revival of Western Civilization. These roles may be examined in light of their correspondence with aspects of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the Church, perhaps in its role as shepherd of Christ’s flock, was able to satisfy strong psychological needs.
Between 500 and 1000 CE, the Roman Catholic Church played three significant roles in the continuity and revival of Western Civilization. These roles may be examined in light of their correspondence with aspects of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the Church, perhaps in its role as shepherd of Christ’s flock, was able to satisfy strong psychological needs.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: David G Terrell on Sep 16, 2010
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 Role of the Church in Western Civilization David G. Terrell February 12, 2010 Between 500 and 1000 CE, the Roman Catholic Church played three significant roles in the continuity and revival of Western Civilization. These roles may be examined in light of their correspondence with aspects of
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
 and the Church, perhaps in its role as
shepherd of Christ’s flock, was able to satisfy strong psychological needs.
 1
 
 
On
Maslow’s
 physiological 
 and
 safety
 planes and at the local level, the Church provided  basic governance, including the administration of low justice, and social services including charitable acts to the communities served by individual bishops and priests. At the regional level, Church leaders provided secular leaders with a reasonably proficient, reasonably objective corps of learned advisors possessed of its own lines of communications and information exchange.
 
On
Maslow’s
 
 safety
 and
esteem
 planes, membership in the Church provided a basis for  personal identity that transcended tribal affiliation, language differences, and station in life.
 
On
Maslow’s
 
 self-actualization
 plane, the Church, through its monasteries, preserved some of the learning of the Classical world and provided a core of literate individuals ready to teach, which eventually generated a burst of creativity that sustains us still. Each role provided a strengthening influence to concepts deemed, by Braudel, as fundamental to Western Civilization: Christianity (including rationalist thought), Humanism and Scientific Thought.
2
 
1
 A. H. Maslow, "A Theory of Human Motivation."
Classics in the History of Psychology
 (Christopher D Green. 1943. http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm (accessed February 8, 2010)).
2
 Fernand Braudel,
 A History of Civilizations,
(London: Penguin Books, 1993), Chapter 17.
 
1 Terrell, David G
Governance.
After the collapse of centralized Roman power in the West, the need to respond to direct physical threats of barbarian invasion and epidemic disease led to a universal insularism of small sell-sufficient communities. Many urban centers, dependent on an economic infrastructure to provide food, being obvious targets for marauding forces, and rife with crowding that increased the risk of epidemiological disasters, were abandoned. The cities that did survive usually did so because they became regional centers of religious organization, under the leadership of a bishop or archbishop and under the  protection of forces under Church influence, if not control.
3
 Regionally, educated clergy became advisors to secular leaders and evangelists to areas beyond the borders of the western empire, effectively conducting an ideological campaign that, through teaching and proselytizing, would both guide policy regionally and reduce foreign onslaught.
4
 Religious vocation contributed to reducing internecine violence as holy orders became a useful outlet for eliminating rivalry between an heir and his male siblings through placing them in religious  positions; or removing marriageable daughters from the pool of eligible women in a like manner, thus eliminating future complications and rivalry arising from the existence of siblings, nephews and cousins with hereditary claims upon a dynasty.
5
 By mid-eighth century, the Church became more tightly integrated with those exercising rule, and the Pope became linked to those aspiring to consolidating and ruling the small, localized political bodies. Beginning with an alliance between Pepin the Short and the papacy, the aspiring leaders of the western world and of the universal Church traded spiritual sanction for political deference and military support. This alliance provided the Church a springboard from which to proselyte eastwards into the Germanic lands, gaining new associates and allies for the Carolingian kings.
3
 Judith M Bennett and C Warren Hollister,
 Medieval Europe A Short History,
(10th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006), 50-53.
4
 Bennett and Hollister, 59-60.
5
 Bennett and Hollister, 63.
 
2 Terrell, David G When Charlemagne became king in 768, he proved to be a strong, pious leader having good relations with the Church. The papacy soon drew upon his goodwill and desire for expanding his domain when it asked him to remove the threat posed by the Lombards, to the Italian peninsula. After subduing Lombardy, Charlemagne began a three decade campaign towards the east, eventually subduing Saxony and ensuring its conversion to Christianity.
6
 Here, the Church again provided a stabilizing influence upon the conquered people. Their adoption of Christianity provided them an essential citizenship that reduced the normal stigmata that marks the difference between conquerors and conquered. In 800, as Charlemagne neared the final defeat of the Saxons, Pope Leo III formalized the relationship between the Church and Imperium
 by making him “Emperor of the Romans”. Leo III may
have intended this act to reestablish a superior position with regard to a very successful king. However, the sanctity granted by the coronation provided Charlemagne with a priestly quality that gave him substantial spiritual authority. The move to reestablish imperial rule resulted in more tension between Church and Crown in subsequ
ent years, as Pope and Emperor each saw the other’s institution as
subordinate to, and supportive of, their own.
7
 
Common Identity.
Early on, the papacy did not exercise much authority outside Rome and its
environs. “But their claims to greater authority k 
ept alive the ideal of a single and unified Church,
governed from Rome.”
8
 Through these times, the Church provided an overarching identity that prevented the many tribal groupings within the Empire from using their differences in language and tradition as a  basis for serious misunderstanding and violence. Christianity became the dominant religion, over other religions of eastern origin (Isis, Cybele, Mithras) and of the Roman state religion, possibly due to two equally attractive characteristics. First, Christianity paid particular attention to the needs of the poor 
 — 
through a emphasis on equality of class,
6
 Bennett and Hollister, 106-107.
7
 Bennett and Hollister, 107-110.
 
8
 Bennett and Hollister, 6.

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