History’s Turning Points: The End of Chastity II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider one of history’s turning points – conspirators in the death of chastity.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In his 1960 novel Where the Boys Are, Clendon Swarthout mused that “virginity was not all that important…nor do I think a girl’s misplacing it somewhere is as catastrophic as the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” Perhaps not, but for thousands of years prior, chastity was very important, for families, for religious institutions, for dynastic security. Men might not have to maintain theirs, a classic double standard, but much energy was expended to make sure that females were chaste. Yet, within just a few short decades, it just went away, something considered so precious in previous generations was abandoned with a near careless lack of restraint.

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History’s Turning Points: The End of Chastity I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider one of history’s great social turning points – the death of chastity.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The expectation that a woman had to remain chaste, a virgin, until marriage or at least until engagement, had been around for millennia. The purpose of sex had been to make babies, propagate the species, extend the family, and in that process women were seen to play the essential role, the depository of the seed of life. It was thought that female chastity was essential. That the other half of the population, the male half, was not expected to maintain quite the same level of virtuous existence became increasingly seen as a double-standard in the modern era. Suddenly women had an ally, a tiny chemical wafer – the Pill - that helped redress an ancient gender imbalance. Now the act of sex could be severed from procreation. The rules governing chastity were being repealed. The invention and wide availability of the Pill sat upon one of history’s great turning points.

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The Christmas Story

Lead: For 1500 years, most Christian believers have celebrated the nativity or birth of Christ on December 25th assuming that he was born on that day. They are almost certainly wrong.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Before and after the adoption of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire around 300 of the Christian Era, the early Church faced threats even as the early church’s numbers and influence were increasing. The flood of new converts brought with them behaviors, traditions and beliefs that the church found hard to digest. From almost the beginning and for several centuries thereafter, the Christian Church struggled to define orthodoxy and rid its richly diverse growing membership of pagan beliefs and habits. One of the earliest leaders, Paul of Tarsus, grumbled in his pastoral letter to Galatia, that Christians were turning back to their bondage to the observation of “days, months, and seasons,” (Galatians 4:8-11).

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Francis of Assisi 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 Assisi 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.

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The Snows of Canossa (Religious History)

Lead: When Cardinal Hildebrand became pope in the year 1073, he took the name Gregory VII. He was a stubborn man and probably more than the average pope enjoyed the role the church claimed for him as God's representative on earth.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Once he came to office he began to attack the practice of lay investiture. When a bishop took office he was invested or given the symbols of that office, usually a ring or staff, by the king or duke who controlled the area in which he would serve. Gregory wanted to stop that, he felt that only Churchmen should invest Churchmen with these symbols of office. In February 1075, the pope decreed that clerics who accepted investiture from laymen were to be thrown out of office and laymen who invested clerics were to be thrown out of the church.

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Religious Toleration

Lead: One of the primary motives behind settlement of North America was religious freedom. The Puritans settled Massachusetts is order to escape what they believed was the English government persecution because of their religious beliefs.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Once they established their settlements, however, it became clear that their idea of religious freedom was nothing close to the 20th century notion of religious toleration. The Puritans desired to be free to worship the way they pleased but if you were to live in Massachusetts, you had to exercise that freedom only if you were a Puritan. If you were a member of the Church of England or a Roman Catholic or a Baptist you would not be permitted to worship. With the exception of Roger Williams, Rhode Island, in which there was an openness to a variety of Protestant worship, only in Maryland was there a serious experiment with religious toleration.

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Sir Francis Drake III

Lead: His voyage around the world behind him, Sir Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth's Golden Admiral, intensified his campaign to make miserable the life of the King of Spain.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Returning from the East in 1581, Drake made Plymouth his home and was elected mayor of the town. He served with distinction, revamping the municipal water system with such care that his improvements lasted for decades. Ever restless, he returned to the sea which was both the love of his life and source of his fortune. In 1585 Elizabeth sent Drake back to the Caribbean where, over a period of months, he renewed his reputation as the scourge of Spain. His occasionally brutal capture and sacking of Cartagena in Columbia, St. Augustine in Florida, and Santo Domingo, combined with attacks on the Cape Verde Islands, were not as successful or lucrative as previous forays, but caused enormous financial distress to the Spanish and confirmed their hatred for el draque or the dragon, as he was coming to be known. This campaign and other conflicts with England so incensed Spanish King Philip II that he made the fateful decision to assemble a huge naval Armada to invade the island kingdom.

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