The Black Legends - Album

SKU: 3368D-00-AL


Part 01- The Ancient Roots of the Black Legends

Dr. John Rao begins with a discussion of the ancient rhetorical dislike of Plato and his insistence that a knowledge of truth had to precede action. The entry of the Church onto the political and social scene brought this insistence down to the popular level and won for her an even greater hatred from "word merchants". All manner of lies had to be told about Christianity in order to bring this truth-loving "monster" to bay.

Part 02 - The Ancient Anti-Catholic Coalition

Already in the ancient world, a "Grand Coalition" of anti-Catholic forces had gathered together. This included not only the "word merchants", interested in selling recipes for "success", but also philosophers who did not want to deal with theology, men who loved power for power sake, and ordinary people who simply did not wish to be bothered with a call to sanctity and greatness. Dr. John Rao outlines the work of this Grand Coalition in the late Roman Empire.  

Part 03 - A Syllabus of the Black Legends

The term "The Black Legend" specifically describes a set of lies regarding Catholic Spain. Dr. John Rao speaks here of a broader "syllabus" of Black Legends, developed through the ages, accusing the Church of destroying the State, peace, education, philosophy, the family, and human freedom in general. 

Part 04- The Black Legends in the Early Middle Ages

Dr. John Rao explains that in the early Middle Ages, from the 500's through the 900's, the Church had a number of battles with Byzantine Emperors and pagan influenced men in the civil service, all of whom resorted to "Black Legends" to attack her. One major example of these emerged during the Iconoclast Controversy, during which the Church in general, and monks in particular, were accused of destroying family life, decreasing the population, weakening an interest in military service, and aiding the growth of superstition. 

Part 05 - The Lawyers Versus Philosophy and Theology

Dr. John Rao shows that the period from the 1000's-1200's saw a rediscovery and reapplication of the fullness of Roman Law with its emphasis on the power of the State. Many people were in such awe of the Roman Empire's achievement that they thought her law and legal decisions had to take precedence over philosophical and theological truth. The battle against a Church primarily concerned for Truth and therefore able to be depicted as the enemy of the State, with its primary concern for public order, was engaged anew.  

Part 06 - The Mystics and Humanists Versus Philosophy and Theology

Ancient literature and ancient rhetorical arguments were rediscovered and used by many Humanists from the 1300's onwards. Dr. John Rao explains that they often now attacked the Christian concern for Truth above style with many of the same arguments used against Plato. Catholic Christianity was said to limit the genius and inspiration of great men. Mystics of heretical tendency, possessing their own poetic style, joined in the assault, depicting the Church as an enemy of God because she tried to "trap" the Holy Spirit in soul-less doctrines and theological discussion.  

Part 07 - Seizing the Image of Nature

Dr. John Rao explains that Protestant preachers obsessed with charismatic presentations of the inner meaning of the written Word were part of the anti-theology and anti-philosophy movement that began in the late Middle Ages. They depicted a world of "nature" which was totally corrupt and which the Church misunderstood and then tried to baptize in a hopeless venture to raise it to God. Secularists soon entered into this game of claiming to understand nature and needing to do so without any reference to God. All such thinkers "seizing the image of nature" argued that Catholicism deformed nature and made it impossible to deal with the universe in any fruitful fashion. 

Part 08- The Jansenist Menace

Jansenists were among those who claimed to understand nature as it really was: wicked. Dr. John Rao indicates that they were horrified by the Church's alliance with Jesuits trying to raise nature to "the greater glory of God". Hence, their commitment to an effort to "shoot down" the exalted Tridentine vision of nature's mission, and the associated attempts to make everything from architecture to science "reach for the skies", and its depiction as a dangerous, deluded fraud.

Part 09 - Jansenism, the Enlightenment, the Press, and Public Opinion

Dr. John Rao describes how the Jansenists saw the Church's attitude towards nature as deluded and overblown. The Enlightenment believed that nature could soar if only freed from the Church's effort to corrupt it with a fraudulent supernatural guidance. Both groups promoted their understanding of nature and ridiculed the Church's vision as a lie through a development of the popular Press and the creation of explosive issues--causes--that put orthodox in an absurdly bad light.   

Part 10 - The Jansenist-Enlightenment Black Legends

What Black Legends did the Jansenists and the Enlightenment promote? Dr. John Rao outlines them as being on the one hand, the idea that the Church was a hypocritical supporter of despotism. Yes, she claimed to raise things to the greater glory of God but in fact really built a monstrous despotism which crushed the pure, simple believer who really understood what a wretched sinner he was. On the other hand, Black Legends once again depicted the Church as a force that directed men away from Reason and blocked their rational, scientific use of the things of the world to provide them a happy life of never-ending Progress. 

Part 11- Seizing the Image of Freedom

The entire legalist-Humanist-Protestant-Jansenist-Enlightenment alliance became a new Grand Coalition which seized upon the image of freedom and placed it on its banners. All those who yearned to be free had to fight Catholicism. Dr. John Rao demonstrates that what these new defenders of freedom were actually promoting was a world in which knowledge was meant to gain power over nature and other men, and freedom was defined as the Triumph of the Will.

Part 12- The Revolution and the Permanent Propaganda Machine

From the middle of the 1700's through the French Revolution and down to the present, this new Grand Coalition used all media to develop an endless variety of Black Legends. Dr. John Rao demonstrates that it did not matter that these were often contradictory, and that Catholicism was depicted, simultaneously, as an enemy of the State and too great of a friend of the government; anti-family and too pro-family; anti-science and too much in favor of a scientific use of nature. The one unifying principle in all of this contradiction remained clear, however: the need to attack an institution and a Faith that put Truth above immediate "success".

Part 13 - Catholic Strategies for a Rhetorical Age

Catholics have often shown themselves incapable of responding to the Black Legends. Why is this the case? Dr. John Rao explores reasons for Catholic apologetic failures and argues that a solid combination of concern for rhetoric with a primary dedication to use it for the cause of the Truth could go a long way to overcoming them.

Taken from: The Black Legends: The Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Anti-Catholic Myth - 2003 VonHildebrand Institute

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