A Review of ‘The Catholic Church in the Modern Age’ by Thomas F. Madden

A few months back I listened to ‘Empire of Gold‘ and enjoyed it. I looked at my library’s rolls, and discovered that they had another lecture series by the same professor. I’m not Catholic, but as a student of history I found this series of lectures to be of great interest.

What is this book about? It covers the events of the Catholic Church from approximately the fall of Rome in the West, through the rise and fall of the various Gothic and Visigothic empires in the West, the rise of the various French Empires, the Church’s early difficult relationship with liberal (ie democratic) governments, to the Church’s modern alliance with democratic governments against communistic and fascist nations during WWII and the Cold War.

Was this series of lectures good? Yes, especially in the context of the Church’s ancient history. In particular, I was fascinated by the history of the church in post-revolution France, where it was outlawed and replaced by the government attempting to engineer an athiestic religion. The mere idea of the Republic of France transforming Notre Dame into a ‘Temple of Reason’ devoted to the worship of logic and liberty… well, the mere idea is a lot to think about.

This was not a faultless production. This was produced in 2007 and didn’t cover the modern day sex abuse scandal as a result. Similarly, it skimmed over the Catholic Church’s activities in the New World, Africa and Asia. This series of lectures was pretty much all about the Church’s political and liturgical activities in Western Europe and the USA.

This didn’t cover the spiritual domain of history as much as the political domain. There were some variations on this point: for example, the Protestant Reformation happened because the printing press made spirituality more widely available to everyone. However, by and large this series of lectures focused more on the Pope’s political activities and their attempts to retain power in a changing world.

Should you listen to it? Decide for yourself. This series of lectures was very, very good at being a political history of the Church’s activities in the West. If that interests you, check it out.

STARS: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS (5 Stars=Perfect, 4 Stars=Great, 3 Stars=Good, 2 Stars=Fun but Flawed, 1 Star=Not Recommended)

Overall Rating: Recommended (How I Rate Books)


Genres/Tagwords: Christianity, History of Religion, Nonfiction, Catholicism, History Book

Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed:

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