Monday, February 1, 2010

Are We in a New Renaissance?

Alice C. Linsley

The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, reaching England by the 16th century and northern Europe by the mid-17th century. This period must be viewed against the backdrop of religious upheaval and bloody conflict, the Bubonic plague, interest in Pagan mythology, and the imperialism of the Ottoman Turks.

In many ways, the Renaissance was a time like our own. We too face religious upheaval as is seen most recently within the worldwide of Anglican Communion which has split over the issues of women priests and ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.
We have seen renewed interest in Paganism, especially in the mysterious Druids of Celtic religion and in Native American spirituality.

There are so many religious groups in America that one can find a group that will allow you to believe and act according to one's personal preferences.  Ignorance and/or dismissal of the authority of Holy Tradition (with its binary features) is the general rule.
We live with new diseases such as Ebola and HIV/AIDS, and the resurgence of resistant strains of old diseases such a Tuberculosis and Polio.
The discovery of the New World expanded geographical horizons and stimulated European imaginations and economies. Today we look to the heavens to discover new worlds and for the first time have chartered space travel. Space exploration may lead to the discovery of earthlike planets in other galaxies. The very thought stimulates the imagination and nurtures technological development.
In education, parents are seeking alternatives to public schools, such as charter schools, home schooling and classical education schools.
As Muslims of the Ottoman Empire sought to expand their territory and didn't hesitate to use violence means, Jihadists today seek to establish a world empire under Islamic Law (Sharia).

Ruthless or Machiavellian politics are practiced in our own country. Washington's inner Beltway has a reputation for "dirty" politics, back-stabbing, and secret deals that work against a healthy political system.
Today we share many of the ethical concerns of the Renaissance.
  • The Dignity of Man
  • Responsibility of the Wealthy
  • Reform of Education and Healthcare
  • The Power of Rulers
  • Religious Intolerance
  • Insistence of one's own interpretation of meaning
The Renaissance made way for the Enlightenment and for modern industrialization, modern sciences and the proliferation of scientific theories and ideologies, the establishment of democracies, organizations such as the World Council of Churches and the United Nations, and globalism. 

What do you think our time will give way to? What will our children's world be like?

Related reading: Ethics of the Renaissance


sandra sexton said...

I feel we are definitely in a new Renaissance. The future holds many promises for our children, however as the old saying goes...."if we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it." Just as Ms. Linsley states, we are repeating it to some degree right now. I do believe there will be many new changes and developments. Our children will live in a world very different from our own. They will have to confront and find solutions to problems we never had to deal with, such as terrorism and the rampant illegal drug problem.

Alice C. Linsley said...

History doesn't repeat itself but humans repeat the "sins of the fathers" very often. The rise and fall of civilizations seems to be a cycle. There are cycles in nature and in human interactions.

Given all the BAD things that happened during the so-called "Renaissance", why do we have such a rosey view of this period?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Monica asked me to post this comment for her. Here it is:

"I never looked at the Renaissance as a way to look at our society today. Very interesting. I never saw the Renaissance as a rosy time period. It is very dark and lost to me. There were a few bright areas but a lot of dark aspects such as diseases and death. We leave our children of the future our debt and mess to clean up. We leave them a mess that I am not sure they can clean up. We also leave them a bright area of discovery to find curse for diseases and to try and teach people things that we could not teach. We can leave them to never repeat the things that we have done in our lifetime. Our time will give way to a period that had a lot of good strides in technology and curse for diseases but we got lost in helping ourselves a lot of times and should have helped others more."

Alice C. Linsley said...

Monica, the word "Renaissance" means rebirth and suggests that this period has been viewed as a time of vitality and new life. That may be true in the arts, due the the system of patronage, but it doesn't seem to be true in other areas of European culture during the Renaissance. Generally, there were 2 impulses working in opposite directions: respect for Holy Tradition and attempts to overthrow Holy Tradition. This is true of our time also, only now the overthrow of Holy Tradition is almost complete.

AshleyC said...

I believe our children will go through a world where the consequences of Holy Wars will be close to home and lived with everyday. It is my worse fear that my children or grandchildren will see terrorism spread beyond the middle eastern borders, and 9-11 will be a frequently revisited event. I know everyday people are killed by terrorism. But I fear a time when it is seen more often than not in every country. Religion has always produced the most violent wars with the highest amount of innocent deaths. It is a scary future to think about.
Civilizations rise and fall. Its not natural to be the most powerful forever. Things evolve, people evolve, civilizations evolve. The fact that things change is the only thing that doesn't change. I don't think history repeats itself. I believe we are limited on outcomes given our natural tendencies as humans. Maybe the fact that we try to forget the bad is the reason we keep repeating the bad mistakes. The fight over Holy Tradition will be the downfall of both sides. It sounds so cynical and pessimistic, but it seems to be the issue most often argued. But then again, as humans, we have a natural tendency to rise above as well. Some will fuel the fire, and others will wait and build again when the fire is moved. It is never extinguished though is it? Right now we are rebuilding, but the fire close by is starting to burn brighter.

Sara Sutherland said...

Comparing our decade to the Renaissance is very interesting to me. I do agree that we are building the New Renaissance with all of our new technologies today. We always hear our parents talk about "when i was a child.." and i believe that the same will happen when we have children of our own. They will experience totally new technologies and things that we don't even know about yet. As it already has, things will also become more expensive and harder on others to afford. I think looking back on the Renaissance is a learning experience as should every period we look back on. There is always going to be problems with our world that needs a solution and i believe that through out time our country will find one to things such as terrorism and illegal drugs.

Lottie Boyd said...

I also never thought to link the events of our time to those of the Renaissance. I think that its pretty obvious that new things are affecting us today that didn't affect the population when my parents were my age. I'm sure 20 years ago no one considered putting a microchip in humans or the spread of diseases such as AIDS and Cancer. While it seems some generations suffer from crisis that others don't eventually the crisis is overcome, such as that of the Great Depression. I feel that future generations may come up with things such as cures for AIDS and Cancer to overcome the major problems of today, but they too will face crisis that no one saw coming.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Chantelle asked me to post this comment for her. Here it is:

"Our world as we know it will begin to erode in both the physical realm and the spiritual one. We are not taking care of our planet, we are not giving thanks to God for what we have, and we are not trying to live by his rules. It says that if we live by the guidelines he has given us that our lives will be long and we will prosper and that if we do not, he will shorten our days.

Our country and all countries are experiencing great calamity because we are not following the path that God through his son Jesus Christ has laid out for us.

We will see more and more crisis in our climate and in our economy unless we turn toward him.

Our children’s futures as well as our own are up to us.

Unknown said...

I am fearful for the type of world my children will grow up in. I can not imagine how society will be when they are my age.
One thing that I look forward to is the advance in medicine. The differences in medicine from the Renaissance to today is astonishing. How far will the technology advance? Right now there is the ''da Vinci”, the robotically assisted surgery. What will medicine be like in forty or fifty years? I wonder if there will be a cure for cancer.
One thing I fear for my kids society is the sexual exploitation and how society sees sexual interaction today.
I am also, however scared that our society will turn out like the movie “Idiocracy”. In this movie humans have no knowledge, no common sense, they are 'idiots. Hopefully this will not happen

Sweeney's said...

I have a two year old and a four year old and I already worry about how their world will be when they are teenagers and young adults. New Renaissance I think is upon us and it will be for a long time. There will always be changes being made, new inventions, new reveations, etc.

The thing that scares me the most is that there will also be new diseases and scary health issues. Just like H1N1 that is going on right now. You never know what will evolve.

Anonymous said...

The Renaissance, a high contrasting time for man. We made so many advances during that period, science, religious reform, political reform; nevertheless, it was a dark time, many were starving, put to death over small issues (i.e. taxes), sickness was spreading everywhere causing horrible devistation. I think what we learn from this period is what we're re-learning right now. The past ten years have been truely remarkable. Computers have went from huge boxed mechanical annoyances, to things such as the Air MAC (ultra light maybe 2 lbs. worth of laptop), we can send pictures via text around the globe in minutes, and video chat with loved ones that normally we could never see without a long trip made. We are now growing organs in laboratories, and have sucsessfully implanted livers and kidneys into patients with these lab grown organs. The most stunning, we've found the gene to aging, and are currently growing a human heart, in the lab. We are making such head way, attempting to fix illnesses, pro-long life and improve it's quality. At the same time, our taxes are at all time highs, wages are hardly budging, work hard to find, and social security is running out. Once again sickness has found us (i.e. H1N1), and geographical weather changes are killings millions (possible cause: global warming), causing problems such as with Haiti and even snow in Arizona. I believe that we should decide, are such dark times worth taking the chance? We can make a deal, allow people to fall into holes, fight for survival; science will improve, hopefulls for new governement change... lose a billion lives for the exachange of saving 5billion, I think we know the answer.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Leslie asked me to post this comment for her:

"I think that our time will give way to many new things. I listen to my grandparents who are up in their 80's and I think that parts of history do repeat themselves. The recession that we are in at the present time is much like some of the things they describe from their past experiences after the depression. I think there will always be bits of history that we repeat in the future, because everything is a learning experience. As for our children, I think they will encounter new technologies and new ways of life that even I cannot imagine. People will always try to have better ideas and new inventions and new ways to do the things that they want(even if they are illegal:such as drugs). It will very interesting to see the changes that take place in my lifetime not to mention the things my children will encounter in theirs."

Alice C. Linsley said...

Shandra, your point about taxes is well taken. In the llth century, William the conquerer sent his tenants-in-chief to collect taxes. He also sent clergy with the idea that the tax payer would be less likely to lie about what they owed. Would that work today? I've heard sermons about the importance of paying the taxes one owes - that it is the Christian's duty to abide by the laws and to obey the established authorities. I've also heard people encourage Christians to resist paying taxes - The Tea Party Movement.

Today we see the selective use of government authority in enforcing political neutrality for tax exempt religious institutions. This works both directions, however. Churches which do not ordain homosexuals and Catholic hospitals that refuse to perform abortions could one day lose their tax exempt status on grounds that they are not compliant with federal laws.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Timberly asked me to post this comment for her:

"I believe that our world today is focused mainly on the humanism theory. Humanism emphasizes the dignity of Man and the possibilities of rewards in this life, rather than rewards in heaven. Today's society is more interested in what fun they can have in this lifetime and are not worried about what hell they may face later on.
Mrs. Linsley I 100% agree with your view that we will see more and more crisis in our climate and in our economy unless we turn toward him. There is really no solution to our corrupt world other than handing our lives to the Lord. As long as we teach our children about the Lord and how we should serve him, that's all that one individual can do. Unless the whole world participates in teaching our young bible verses instead of rap songs this world will only go on in the terror that it is."

Alice C. Linsley said...

Barbara asked me to post this comment for her. Here it is:

" As humans we tend to hang onto our roots, sometimes only by a thread. As many centuries have passed, the basis for our existence has still remained with some alterations in which to adjust with the "changing times." As religions still retain their ancient beliefs, our social changes and growth have allowed women priests and the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals into the Anglican Communion; but not without much opposition.
People, especially the non-traditionalists, usually lean toward groups that share the same thoughts and ideas, whether accepted by the "norm." or not. Paganism and other religious groups might attract those individuals thereby displaying one's ignorance and/or dismissal of the power of Holy Tradition.
As lifestyle changes have occurred, new diseases have surfaced like Ebola and HIV/AIDS. And a few of the older, dangerous diseases such as Tuberculosis and Polio, have reappeared as well.
Much like the Renaissance [as in creativity and rebirth], the technological advances of today have allowed the flourishing of space travel. The unknown and thirst for knowledge prompted the philosophers in ancient times and also encourages the intellectuals of today to continue seeking new discoveries.

Our cultures of today are becoming more expressive in choosing not to continue the paths of prior generations, especially if they feel indifferent about the situation, as in not choosing public education to teach their children. They are choosing what they feel are better alternatives and as with any situation, there can be "pros and cons."

And yes, "dirty politics" do exist in today's government and as with a VERY real concern of mine...being the "hunger" felt all over the world, POWER & PROFIT are the contolling factors; and I foresee no improvement for future generations."

Alice C. Linsley said...

Karen asked me to post this comment:

" believe that what we have deemed as great advancements for our society will ultimately give way to a man made destruction. I believe we are now living in our last days. We will see devastation of old as they did in the renaissance era. We have seen and will continue to see wars, famine, and incurable diseases that have been unknown to man, but caused by our arrogance and failure to heed God's word. I believe these natural disasters and wide spread diseases are God's way of expressing to us that he is not pleased."

Brittany Gregory said...

I think that it is unknown what our time will give way to. We see so many advances in technologies and the cure for many diseases is right under the realm of possibilities. While at the same time we are fore taking in a war that seems never ending. Our economy is in such a downfall that we may never see the day that we don’t have to worry about what our children will face in years to come.

There is so much that is indefinite it is hard to think about what our children will have to deal with in their lifetimes. I am sure it will be a world that we never imagined. As we compare our world right now to the Renaissance period, it does seem like we are paving our way through another cycle. But it is scary to think about because we may not make it through another cycle.

Yes, our children may live in a time period where they find cures for deadly disease, but by this time I think that diseases are going to be the least of their worries.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Craig asked me to post this comment for him:

"I think life, in general, is all about renaissance. As we look over our history we have made it our life’s goals to improve on what we have now. It may specifically be more directed to industrialization now in this time period, but every generation is going to bring the next improvement or rebirth. Some of these things may be brought on by different things than each generation such as scarceness of natural resources, our economy, or maybe the next world war.

Regardless, it is all about evolution. Its all about wanting better for our children than we have had for ourselves. And I am sure it will continue to happen year after year."

Alice C. Linsley said...

Craig, are you arguing for change as rebirth or evolutionary process? Rebirth has theological implications, certainly. St. Paul states that all of creation groans as in childbirth for the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Church Fathers speak of the world being made new, or Paradise being restored, thorugh Jesus Christ.

If you are speaking of evolutionary process, we should consider that in light of what we have already discussed.

Plato observed pattern in the world and built his thought on what he observed. His observations of nature and of human society suggested that there is a fixed order to Reality. That is to say, nothing really changes.

When we consider examples of change people usually point to technological advances. What a wireless laptop computer can do today required a room full of computers in the 1960's. However, such examples of change or "progress" do not prove that things change. They only prove that scientists have learned to work with the laws of nature. Science and technology advance because those who work in these fields work with fixed laws. The universe works like a clock. The binary language of computers is math and math is unchanging.

Ryan Barnes said...

Islamic extremism really concerns me. Most people only look to the Middle East and only associate Arabic people with this extremism, but in reality it is happening all over the world. Russia, Africa, Europe, you name it. I believe that are children will be plagued with this so called "Holy War" in their generation and generations to come.
Could this be the end civilzation? Religion could very well fullfill this.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Ryan, Many share your concern. That said, keep in mind that many Arabs are Christians, not Muslims. And many Muslims are peace-loving, not jihadists.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Ryan Holland asked me to post this comment for him:

"I hope that my children can live in a new Renaissance, but I fear that our generation and previous generations have set an insurmountable debt. As we deplete our resources throughout the world, wars will continue and deaths will rise, not only due to war, but do to lack of resources. We are close if not past the Earth's capacity and the world's population continues to grow at approximately 79.5 million people per year. We are faced with new diseases every year along with ones that we yet to find cures for, yet how are we supposed to find cures when we continue to deplete the resources that may contain the very cure for these diseases?

Is our government corrupt? Yes! I can't even recall how many times I have heard that the "Ten Commandments" have been taken down from a courthouse or school. People complain about saying the pledge of Allegiance because it states,"One Nation under God." People want "In God We Trust," taken off money. And who allows it? OUR GOVERNMENT! What ever happened to standing up for what's right? You should have to read the constitution before taking office to actually realize the vision of our forefathers.

With my job, I have to encounter the bad in people everyday. I see what drugs, poverty, and disease do to people. Our government would rather help other countries than help our own people. Most of the loans given to less devoloped countries is never returned because they cannot get their economy back in order. Yet we often give money, when we cannot even get our economy in order.

We have made many improvements throughout time, but we are way behind the power curve. Many changes need to be made or our children will not be able to evovle and begin their own Renaissance!"

Alice C. Linsley said...

Ryan Holland, we'll discuss the influence of Hobbes' social contract on the Founding Fathers in the next Discussion Topic. I'll be interested to see what you think.

Rachel Duggins said...

I firmly believe that we are in a New Renaissance. The future for our children will be very different from the world as it is now. The world with new technologies and developments changes everyday, something new comes in and the old is either reinvented or moved out. By the time our children have their own children there will probably be so many different things to learn that they will know things we only dream about knowing. But, there is a downfall because they way the givernment talks our children's future does not have social security in their future and they are going to have to clean up the pieces of the war we cannot seem to finish. There will probably be new religions, a different style of clothes, and computerized everything in our children's furture. Our children should look forward to the future and have an open mind because anything could happen these days and we should have them as prepared as we possibly can.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Tammy asked me to post this comment for her:

"As a Christian, I worry about the future of my children and grandchildren. Although we live in the land of the free our speech and beliefs are becoming challenged daily. We are supposed to be proud of God yet we are unable to post the Ten Commandments, pray in school, or even say our Pledge of Allegiance. I also think that sin is taking over with drugs and sexual perversions,and greed. I feel these sins are the beginning of our downfall. Although technology is good for new developments such as with science, medical advances, convenience, accessibility to resources, it has also opened our generations to a world of unlimited access to anything of the imagination. I also worry about terrorist attacks becoming more of an occurrence here on US soil. I do see a resemblance between the time of the Renaissance and current time. I do not believe we are repeating time but things are changing in similar fashion."

Alice C. Linsley said...

Brian asked me to post this comment for him. Here it is:

"I believe we are in a Renaissance of sorts. Like the Renaissance of the 16th and 17th centuries we face death, disease, but also great learning and advancement in technology. Years ago I said I would never have a child because I feared for the world he or she would have to live in. After another 10 or 15 years I finally had a child and only hope that she will be able to live a full life in a wonderful world. I do fear that the extremists that are committing the terrorist acts will be taken care of and my daughter will have little to no fear of religious based hatred and cruel acts. I hope for her to live in a world where technology continues to improve everyone’s way of life with great breakthroughs in medicine. I only hope that war does not continue for years to come. Although I believe the technological advancements will be great I do not see extreme changes in the way we will be living during my child’s lifetime. I hope that during this time of learning, we all see the errors in our ways and make an effort to improve the world we live in for the future generations."

Alice C. Linsley said...

As parents, we certainly hope and pray for the best future for our children. Yet they will make their own world, their own future. Given what they are exposed to constantly in the media and in the typical public school curriculum, I'm not hopeful that they will act on what is true and real. To do so, they will need to have a much clearer grip on Reality.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Mary asked me to post this comment for her:

"To be honest, it terrifies me to even think about what kind of world my child will be living in. I do think the area of technology will improve as a positive aspect of the future as well as the discoveries of new medicines and ways to cure illnesses. Material things is this world is not what concerns me, it’s the viewpoints of certain people with high authority. In the past few years, homosexuality and abortion have been treated as if they are no big deal. Society as well as the president approves of this, which brings the question to mind, “What’s next?”

Alice C. Linsley said...

Keysha asked me to post this comment for her:

"I do feel that we are experiencing a new Renaissance in many ways. Respect for Holy Tradition and the overthrow of the Holy Tradition come to mind concerning the battle of homosexuals in church society today and homosexuals being viewed as one unit in marriage. I think that some of the ethical concerns we are experiencing will not only roll over to our children’s lives but have a huge impact on the issues that they will face. In our society public education is growing less while home school and private schools are growing in numbers do to violence, and drugs in society. Healthcare is being looked at as a total new revision through President Obama new healthcare plan. If you have an incurable disease such as cancer or HIV; or on a vent as a long term option there will be not option. The power of rulers in our nation as well as the world is nothing but conflict and will continue to grow with more conflict. We have seen a tremendous growth in terrorism in our lives I cannot imagine what it will be when my son is my age. It is a horrible thing to think of how the Lord and Savior cannot be used in our schools or our country. We turn to God during a time of the worse. For example 9/11. And then the Ten Commandments are taken down out of our courthouses, schools, and lives because it is against people’s right. I feel that our country will continue to plummet if we do not unite as one and uplift God."