The History that isn’t

Amazon.com sells a lot of books and it categorizes all of them. Take the history of say, the Roman army. Where would Amazon put it? In History, specifically into its Military subcategory. Easy right?

Now the history of the Church. Take The Cambridge History of Christianity. How is it catagorized? Under History, you say. No! History has no subcategory for Religion. Church History stands apart, safely under Religion and Spirtituality. This isn’t history. It’s religion. We separate religion and history.

Treat the Sociology of religion? Sociology has no sub category for Religion either. Back you go to Religion and Spirituality and there’s a Sociology buried in there somewhere.

And Religion and Spirituality is a jealous category. It makes you pick. Are you writing about Religion or not? No this and that! Religion or not? The City of God is set well apart from the muddiness of life.

Now consider the muddled book of Rodney Stark. It starts applying studies from sociology to the early Church and then gives up, descends into trite apologetics.

39 of his readers reviewed his book on Amazon. Together they reviewed 1163 other books. Impressive. What categories? Religion and Spirituality is top (442). Under there, some are from the overlapping Church History (69) and Religious Studies History (41) but Christian Theology (147) easily tops both. There is History (264) proper too but little of it is Ancient (28) and little of that concerns Rome (3) or Greece (4). Yes out and proud Sociology features. But it’s anecdotal stuff. Not the rigor of early Stark and not on long ago. Much suburban angst and culture wars.

Clearly not a crew interested in the world that was, in and of itself. Locked in now, eager to reinforce what they know, comfortable in America’s City of God. Poor Rodney. He must have known that such men demand apologetic sugar.

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