Sunday, May 14, 2017

A century of holy heroes

Peter Standord reviews Eamon Duffy's "Reformation Divided: Catholics, Protestants & the Conversion of England" for the Spectator:

The Reformation is such a huge, sprawling historical subject that it makes sense, in this the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther producing his 95 Theses, to break it up into bite-size pieces in order to sample its distinctive local flavours. Eamon Duffy, emeritus professor of Christian history at Cambridge, takes England as his territory, and quickly deprecates the very word Reformation as an ‘unsatisfactory designation concealing a battery of value judgments’. Instead, he sets out to investigate what he characterises as largely a series of homegrown reformations and counter-reformations.
So far, so sensible, but the process of reduction is then taken a step further. Duffy’s ability to shape his scholarship to a wide audience is well known, shown to dazzling effect in The Stripping of the Altars, his groundbreaking 1992 account of the rude good health of late medieval English Catholicism before Henry VIII’s version of the Reformation. Here, however, he offers not a single narrative, but rather a series of 14 essays that range, apparently randomly, from Thomas More’s publication of Utopia in 1516 to George Fox’s founding of the Quakers in the late 1640s.

read more here @ the Spectator, @ the Guardian, and @ the Telegraph

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