Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Man, Values and the Dynamics of Medieval Society: Anthropological Concepts of the Middle Ages in a Transcultural Perspective/Church, Society and Change: Christianity Impaired by Conflicting Elites/In the Maelstrom of Secularization, Collaboration, and Persecution: Roman Catholicism in Modern Czech Society and the State

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Man, Values and the Dynamics of Medieval Society: Anthropological Concepts of the Middle Ages in a Transcultural Perspective/Church, Society and Change: Christianity Impaired by Conflicting Elites/In the Maelstrom of Secularization, Collaboration, and Persecution: Roman Catholicism in Modern Czech Society and the State

Article excerpt

Man, Values and the Dynamics of Medieval Society: Anthropological Concepts of the Middle Ages in a Transcultural Perspective. By Tomas Petrácek. Translated by David Livingstone. (Lublin, Poland: EL-Press. 2014. Pp. 126. Paperback. ISBN 978-8-386-96939-8.)

Church, Society and Change: Christianity Impaired by Conflicting Elites. By Tomas Petrácek. Translated by Derek and Marzia Paton. (Lublin, Poland: EL-Press. 2014. Pp. 124. Paperback. ISBN 978-8-386-86935-00.)

In the Maelstrom of Secularization, Collaboration, and Persecution: Roman Catholicism in Modern Czech Society and the State. By Tomas Petrácek. Translated by Derek and Marzia Paton. (Lublin, Poland: EL-Press. 2014. Pp. 129. Paperback. ISBN 978-83-86869-40-4.)

Tomas Petrácek is a leading historian of the Czech Republic, teaching in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies in the Faculty of Education of the University of Hradec Králove. Here he publishes three matching volumes covering the sweep of Czech church history. The first-Man, Values and the Dynamics of Medieval Society: Church Society and Change-is rooted in the contemporary problem of globalization and wonders whether the past, specifically the medieval experience of diversity and solidarity, can provide any guidance for the problems we now face. The book explores medieval anthropology and the relation between Church and society, with further chapters on such subjects as the medieval Inquisition. Medieval civilization becomes a starting point for meditation on categories such as culture, tradition, identity, and multiculturalism (defined as "a plurality of non-communicating ghettos" [p. 10]). The goal is a Christian universalism in which the various cultural traditions are stripped of any ultimacy they might claim, finding rather legitimacy within a family of cultures. Throughout the volumes, translation into English, if less than elegant, sometimes can be amusing, as when, also on page 10, we are told, "The individual does not escape into new cultures in Christianity, but steps up into it with one foot while the other foot remains firmly planted." The second chapter of this volume describes the influence of Christianity on medieval culture. The third chapter focuses on a cluster of themes ordered around the question of the perception of human fate. The fourth and fifth chapters use St. …

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