Monday, August 11, 2014

The Church Ascending (Sophia Institute Press)

The Church Ascending is the latest work by Dr. Diane Moczar and the second I have read in the past two years. The first work I read of hers was The Church Under Attack. By all accounts, The Church Ascending could be considered a prequel to The Church Under Attack, because "Ascending" covers the 1st Century to the 14th Century, and "Under Attack" covered the 16th Century to modern time. Since this is my second time reading Dr. Moczar's work, I feel I have more realistic expectations going in. She also provides a helpful introduction on what this book is and is not for those not familiar with her writings. In a nutshell, Dr. Moczar is a Catholic historian. There will be some pro-Catholic bias, but it's not overwhelming. The book is meant to give the reader a basic view of Church History, not exhaustive by any means. The reader is supposed to be enticed by the glimpses they see to want to read and study more, about certain people or events.

The book is divided into seven periods - Beginnings, Dark Ages, End of the Dark Ages, Early Middle Ages, Twelfth Century, Thirteenth Century, and Late Middle Ages. Each period has two chapters devoted to it. The first chapter for each period gives you a taste of key people or events from that period. The second chapter for each period focuses on the Catholic thought and culture during that time. Each chapter contains little boxes of information that provide extra bits of knowledge related to a specific topic. For example, we learn a little bit about Arius and his heresy when Dr. Moczar talks about the Dark Ages. Honestly, my favorite part of this book was the suggested reading at the end of every chapter. Since Dr. Moczar is only able to provide a taste of the first fourteen centuries of Catholicism in these 175 pages, these suggestions will go a long way in satisfying your hunger for more information.

I was most intrigued reading about the Dark Ages. It is not a period I know a lot about, but this gave me a little bit of insight into what went on during this time and how we actually fell into the Dark Ages. It was also fascinating to read a brief section on Attila the Hun and made me want to read more about him and why he was the way he was. The downside of this book was the lack of information regarding Eastern Christendom and the Eastern Roman Empire. Since the Eastern Roman Empire was not conquered by the barbarians, their culture still flourished. I understand that it would be impossible to cover everything, but it does make you a bit disappointed that the book was so Western focused. There was also very little information on the Great Schism. Like The Church Under Attack, this book left me wanting more. 4 stars.

This book was provided to me for free by Sophia Institute Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!