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Monks and Mystics: Chronicles of the Medieval Church (History Lives series) Paperback – November 20, 2005
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"There is nothing new under the sun - that is definitely true with church history. Many of the same issues and problems face us today that faced the medieval church. So not only does this book give a good, fast-paced narrative through early christian history - it also highlights some of the mistakes and problems that have raised their heads again today." (Catherine MacKenzie ~ Author and CF4K Editor)
"Protestants tend to think of the Middle Ages as the dark and oppressed period between Augustine and Luther. But God did not abandon his people for 1000 years! Missionaries carried the gospel to foreign lands, the Bible was translated into various languages, and Christians held each other accountable before God. Picking up where volume 1 leaves off at the close of the sixth century, these stories bring to life both the believers and the unbelievers God used to grow his church in the medieval era. We hope you'll find the History Lives series an engaging, accurate introduction to the true story of Christianity."
(Mindy Withrow ~ Blogger, writer)
About the Author
Brandon and Mindy Withrow are both bloggers and writers.
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The majority of chapters present part of the story behind an important figure in the early church, written with the action, dialogue, and description of a good novel. Interspersed between these chapters are a few short, strictly nonfiction chapters, explaining such things as how the pope came to be, how Islam affected Christian history, and the councils of the Medieval church.
The novelized chapters cover Gregory the Great, Boniface, Charlemagne, Constantine and Methodius, Vladmir, Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Sienna, John Wyclif, and John Haus.
Although a book covering Christianity during this time period must focus on the Catholic church (because there was no other church), the authors stress: "Modern Protestants disagree with quite a few medieval ideas, but that does not mean that the men and women of the Middle Ages were always wrong or that they did not love God's Word. In fact, despite their differences, later Protestants admired many medieval thinkers...Like Christians of all eras, they made both positive and negative contributions to the church."
Although Medieval Christians are perhaps best known for the Crusades, they also translated the Bible into several languages for the first time, including English. Constantine and Methodius even created a written Slavic language so they could give the Slavs a Bible. Like Christians of all eras, they also strove to help the needy, teach the gospel, keep the church pure, and deal with the politics surrounding them.
What I Like: The concept behind these books is excellent. Very few of us don't enjoy reading a novel more than a dry history book. Monks and Mystics gives us the best of both worlds by giving us historic fact combined with good story telling.
What I Dislike: My only gripe with this book is its treatment of the Crusades. Unfortunately, many people have forgotten the fact that Muslim armies invaded Europe, hoping to make them Islamic lands, and Monks and Mystics doesn't seek to remind anyone of this. It almost seems as though the Withrows wish to make the Crusades apolitical and non-religious. This is not to say Europeans were without fault during the many Crusades, or that some endorsed the Crusades for political reasons or personal gain. However, there were understandable reasons for Europeans to fight many of the Crusades, also. (For a few ideas about the real history of the Crusades, click here.)
Overall Rating: Despite this flaw, however, the book is Very Good, overall.
Christian Children's Book Review