Francis of Assissi II

Lead: Born into a prosperous commercial family Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone, Francis of Assisi, in 1208 answered a spiritual call to a life of poverty and service. His movement brought repentance and reform to a church in deep need of renewal.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Struggling to maintain its authority the face of a growing challenge from newly emerging nation states, the Roman Catholic Church was focused on institutional survival. Many ordinary believers, however, were convinced the Church had lost its way and were turning elsewhere for spiritual solace. Into such a environment came Francesco di Bernardone. A popular youth, he was raised in the central Italian town of Assisi, north of Rome in the Umbrian hills. In 1208 he had a spiritual crisis which, in turn, drew him into a life of pious service. Francis was a layman, whose spiritual journey included preaching and a life of consistent imitation of Christ. He celebrated poverty and stripped himself of all possessions and worldly encumbrances; he never insisted that personal poverty was the Christian ideal, but invited his followers to such a lifestyle. He considered that all nature reflected the divine and called all creatures his brothers and sisters.

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Francis of Assissi I

Lead: In 1210, responding to the prompting of a lay preacher, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (informally Francesco), Pope Innocent III established the Order of the Friars Minor. Francis of Assisi had the vehicle by which he could spread his message of sacrifice and salvation.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Religious institutions are social organisms. They go through periods of robust energetic growth and spiritual enthusiasm then decline into periods of corruption and stasis, when the ideals of the faith dim and require reformation. Having preserved what remained of civilization and order in Western Europe in the centuries following the collapse of the Roman Empire, by the 11th century the Roman Catholic Church was locked in a bitter struggle for pre-imminence with the newly re-emerging and secular national states of England, France and Germany. The focus of this struggle was the authority of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. It was a struggle the church would eventually lose, but this decline would take another three centuries and culminate in the rending of the unity of Christian Europe in the Protestant Reformation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dreyfus Affair IV

Lead: Imprisoned for treason he did not commit, French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus became the focus of a great national crusade.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Dreyfus was clearly innocent. His 1894 conviction was fixed by military authorities anxious to protect the Army from the embarrassing discovery of a German spy in the War Ministry, but they got the wrong man. While Dreyfus served his sentence on Devil's Island, the infamous French prison colony off the coast of South America, his family and a growing number of supporters worked to prove his innocence. Among the most prominent of the Dreyfusards were George Clémenceau, the future wartime Premier, and the novelist and left wing agitator, Emile Zola.

 

 

 

The Dreyfus Affair III

Lead: Accused of spying for the Germans in 1894, French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus became the subject of a furious cultural struggle.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the last half of the 1900s France was a study in conflict. Little more than half the population even spoke the French language. Rural areas were suspicious of the more prosperous industrial cities. Railroads which would help bring the country together were delayed until late in the century. Many Frenchmen openly advocated a return to monarchy and deeply resented the so-called Third Republic, set up after the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Leading the call for monarchy were many Roman Catholics who felt threatened by republican attacks on Catholic schools.

 

 

 

The Dreyfus Affair II

Lead: The year was 1894 and a German spy was known to be at work in the French Ministry of War. Investigators accused Captain Alfred Dreyfus who became a target in great measure because he was a Jew.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Anti-Semitism has rumbled just beneath the surface of western culture since the twilight of the Christian era. Occasionally engaged in open persecution, anti-Semites considered Jews to be clannish and their religious practices more than a little subversive. Many Jews were involved in the professions of law, medicine, and when permitted, occupied key positions in national service. Because the Roman Catholic Church prohibited the charging of interest, Jews, not burdened by such regulations, gravitated toward finance, money-lending, and commerce. An added advantage of these occupations was that, in times of persecution, Jewish assets were portable. Cash crosses borders.

 

 

 

The Dreyfus Affair I

Lead: In the 1890s the trial and conviction of Alfred Dreyfus exposed the great divisions in France and in European society as a whole.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1870, the military powerhouse of northern Europe, Prussia, crushed the forces of French emperor, Napoleon III, in a swift military campaign. France was unprepared for the much more modern Prussian technology and tactics and was overwhelmed. The war brought important changes in both countries. The old Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck used the war emergency to force reluctant parts of Germany into a single German empire led by the Prussian King who was then crowned Kaiser William I at Versailles just outside of Paris in January 1871. Bismarck understood the value of the gratuitous insult. Nothing could be more humiliating to the French than to have the new German emperor crowned in the palace of France's greatest King Louis XIV.

 

 

 

Jan Comenius, Pastor and Educator

Lead: During the European religious wars of the early 1600s, Jan Amos Comenius, a Czech Protestant pastor, forced to flee his homeland, gained international reknown as one of the founders of modern education.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Unity of the Brethren was one of the communities that grew from the teachings of early Czech reformer Jan Hus. After Hus’ execution for heresy by the Roman Catholic Church in 1415 at the Council of Constance, small groups of the faithful, such as the Brethren, kept alive Hus’ teachings until they found wider acceptance in the Lutheran reformation a century later. After initial gains by Protestants in northern Germany, by the 1570s a re-invigorated Roman Church was determined to reverse the course of reform by any means, spiritual or violent. The conflict between Protestants and Catholics came to climax in the horrendous violence of the Thirty Years War that consumed central Europe from 1618-1648. One of the hot spots of fighting was the Bohemian province of Moravia and it was from that sad, beset land, that Bishop Jan Amos Comenius led a small band of Brethren into Poland and what would be for him a life of exile.

 

 

 

Nat Turner, Slave Rebellion III

Lead: In the summer of 1831, Nat Turner, a religious mystic convinced that God had called him as a prophet, led a group of followers on a bloody rampage through south-side Virginia in the most serious slave rebellion in U.S. history.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Nat Turner was a gifted and powerful, mesmerizing slave preacher. Nearly all his life Nat Turner could read and write. His owners from the early days encouraged him to read those portions of the Bible that tell slaves to live lives of dutiful and submissive obedience. Yet, he also read subversive portions of the scriptures that gave him hope that one day he might achieve freedom. By the mid-1820s, Nat Turner was attracting large groups of slaves to his preaching services on Sundays near Cross Keys in Southampton County or down near the North Carolina border.