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nothing new under the sun

Thursday, February 01, 2007

While the battle still hung in the balance, the crusades, introducing a new method and color of thought from the East, and the general diffusion of the teaching of Aristotle, injected a new element into the struggle, and one that was hostile to the spirit of feudalism. The new spirit triumphed; schools multiplied, scholars abounded, universities sprang up and numbered their students by the thousands. The whole age was marked by rapid and radical changes, great ideas and mighty movements, many of which have endured with undiminished influence to the present day. It was altogether a forceful, impetuous and chivalrous age, possessed of a giant's strength and a child's discretion. Indeed, the thirteenth century's tireless quest of truth has often been likened to the persistent inquisitiveness of a precocious child.

But this intellectual revival was not without its disquieting element. Human reason, fostered and developed under the guidance of the Church in the middle years of the twelfth century, dazzled by the consciousness of its own power, began to take on an overweening arrogance towards faith and authority. From this time on it asserted its absolute and undivided supremacy in the realm of knowledge, human and divine. It undertook to measure all truth by the capacity of its own understanding. Faith was impugned, dogma challenged, and even the mystery of the Trinity was held to be not beyond the reach of scholastic analysis. It placed its own judgments above God Himself, and demanded that they be accepted as the infallible criteria of truth. St. Bernard thus describes how generally this spirit had permeated the times: "Along the streets and in the squares people dispute about the Catholic Faith, about the child-bearing of the Virgin, about the Sacrament of the altar, and about the incomparable mystery of the Trinity." Of course, this license in human thought could have but one effect, and that a disastrous one, on the souls of men and the cause of truth alike.
hmm... sounds like today, actually

Saint Dominic and the Order of Preachers