A View Of The Medieval Christian Church — страница 4

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aspect of monastic life were laid down inthe ‘Rule’. Monks were nearly always of noble extraction (onehad to have wealth in order to give it up) but could also be given to themonastery as children (calledoblates) to be brought up as monks. Hindsight has blurred our vision of the Medieval monk and the result isthat the modern Christianmindset has condemned him for his selfish escapism from the world and forhis apparent neglect of thosewho needed Christ outside of the cloister. The Medieval mindset was verydifferent. The monastery wasan integral part of the local community — it probably owned most of thefarming land in the area- and thefortunes of the people in any area were bound up with the spirituality ofits monastic house. The monkswere on the front line of the spiritual

battle-it was they who did battle inprayer for their community, whowarded off devils and demons and who prayed tirelessly for the salvation ofthe souls of those in theircommunity. Rather than being the cowards of Christianity unable to take thestrain of living a Christianlife in the real world, the monks were like spiritual stormtroopersinterceeding for an area against itssupernatural enemies in mudh the same way as a local lord in his castleprotected an area against itsphysical enemies. The people gave gifts to both lord and abbot in return fora service. The Pardoner also represents the tradition of faith — in respect tothe church of his time. The Pardoner isrepresentative of the seamy side of the corrupt church and a broken ortwisted (if you will) faith. Thefaith of a

bureaucracy, which is what the church had become. The Pardonerwas a church official whohad the authority to forgive those who had sinned by selling pardons andindulgences to them. Although,the Pardoner was a church official, he was clearly in the “church” businessfor economic reasons. ThePardoner, a devious and somewhat dubious individual had one goal: Get themost money for pardons byalmost any means of coercion necessary. A twisted and ironic mind, hasbasically defined himself throughhis work for a similarly corrupt church. In contrast, the Plowman hasnothing but a seeminglyuncomplicated and untwisted faith. The Plowman has the faith of a poorfarmer, uncomplicated by thebureaucracy of the church. The Pardoner is probably on this journey becausehe is being required to goby

the church or he sees some sort of economic gain from this voyage, mostlikely from sellingforgiveness to the other pilgrims. The Plowman on the other hand is probablyon this voyage because ofhis sincerity and faith in its purpose. While this was the story of religion at ‘grass-roots’ level, at theorganisational and hierarchical level,the church developed along a different line. It became more organized, morebureaucratic, more legal,more centralized and basically more powerful on a European scale. Thisprocess was spearheadedby the papacy and reached its pinnacle under Pope Innocent III in the early13th Century. He embodiedwhat became known as the ‘papal monarchy’ – a situation where the popesliterally were kings in theirown world. The relative importance of spiritual and

secular power in theworld was a constant question inthe middle ages with both secular emperors and kings, and the popesasserting their claims to rule bydivine authority with God’s commands for God’s people proceeding out oftheir mouths. The power of thechurch is hard to exaggerate: its economic and political influence was huge,as its wealth, movementslike the crusades, and even the number of churches that exist from thisperiod truly show its greatness. By the early 10th century, a strange malaise seems to have entered theEnglish church. There arecomments from this time of a decline in learning among churchmen and anincrease in a love forthings of this earthly world. Even more of these lax standards had begun adecline in the power structureof the church which included a

decrease in acceptable behavior amongstchurchmen and a growing useof church institutions by lay people as a means of evading taxes. Christianity affected all men in Europe at every level and in every way. Such distances however, ledto much diversity and the shaping of Medieval religion into a land ofcontrasts. One can also see how man’s feelings of extreme sinfulness and desire for God are quite evidentin these tales. Still, we are told that history repeats itself because nobody listens to it,but more realisticallyhistory repeats itself because man is essentially the same from onegeneration to the next. He hasthe same aspirations, fears and flaws; yet the way that these are expresseddiffers from age to age. This is why each period of history is different. The fact that man is