Dominion by Tom Holland – The Legacy of Christianity

Terry Eagleton at The Guardian:

Other intriguing details abound. When Notre Dame was being built in medieval Paris, a collective of prostitutes offered to pay for one of its windows and dedicate it to the Virgin Mary. Followers of Satan around the same time were obliged to suck on the tongue of a giant toad and lick the anus of a black cat. Galileo had a craving for celebrity and was an inveterate social climber. Yet, though the book is full of such titbits, there is a seriousness at its heart. Holland argues that all “western” moral and social norms are the product of the Christian revolution. He is haunted by St Paul’s claim that God chose the weak and foolish things of the world to shame the strong, and to drive the point home he might have looked at the beginning of Luke’s gospel. We encounter there an obscure young Jewish woman called Mary who is pregnant with Jesus, and Luke puts into her mouth a cry of praise that some scholars believe is a Zealot chant. It speaks of how you will know who God is when you see the poor coming to power and the rich sent empty away. It is this which must be weighed in the balance against the killing fields of Christendom.

more here.