The Head Owl


I’m planning to create a contact me page but it will take a while so hang in there. (I am speaking to everyone who I’ve given this address to so they can contact me.)

Western Civilization 2 lesson 5

What were the Ninety-Five Theses about? What was the basic message of Luther’s complaint?

In 1517, Martin Luther released his 95 theses to the world, and more importantly, to the Catholic Church. The 95 Theses are a set of documents that points out everything Luther found wrong with the practices of the Church and the Pope in the 16th century. Everything from infant baptism to monasticism made Luther’s list, but the focus of the Theses was on the sale of indulgences. (Indulgences are defined as the forgiveness of eternal sin for a soul in purgatory through the act of paying the Clergy.) When Luther published the 95 Theses, he meant for someone to step up to debate with him but he only ended up wounding the Clergy’s inflated sense of self-importance. However, he still gained an incredible amount of followers when he tacked that piece of paper onto the Church door in Wittenberg. Martin Luther never would have anticipated how he would change the world with his 95 theses.

Western Literature 2 lesson 5

“Do you think that Luther really believed that Pope Leo X did not know what the indulgence salesmen were saying?”

In Wittenberg, a sleepy little university town in eastern Germany on the river Elbe, the monk Martin Luther gradually became displeased with the practices of the Catholic Church. It began to dawn on Luther that the Church was corrupt—and the corruption went deep. But surely the Pope could not believe in these immoral values and teachings. Could he?

Luther did in fact believe that Pope Leo X knew what the indulgence salesmen were saying. When he was publicly proclaiming that he disagreed with the practice of selling indulgences, he did not want to offend one of the most influential people in his day, so he claimed that the Pope must not be guilty—even though Luther acknowledged that he was not perfect. However, judging from his doctor of theology from the University of Wittenburg, Luther was no dimwit and must have known that if all of the Church’s underlings practiced selling indulgences, the ruler must know and approve as well. Before delving further into this theory, the reader should know what Indulgences are. The selling of indulgences was the practice where a member of the Clergy forgave the eternal sins of any soul in purgatory using the excess of good works that the saints performed in their lives in exchange for exorbitant sums of money. Luther refers to the Pope many times over in his 95 Theses. The Pope’s title and position were very conspicuous as well and made people stop and take notice of what Luther was saying. Perhaps when Luther was still forming his 95 theses he truly believed in the Pope’s innocence, but after he thought about it for a while and wrote more of them, he realized the Pope’s true guilt. Continue reading



This story is from a few years ago and it was just based on a passing idea. I would say don’t judge it too harshly but I am after all posting this for people to judge in the first place. Read it or don’t but if you do, please tell me what you think.

Western Civilization lesson 85

What was the significance of the Papal-Frankish Alliance? What were two factors that helped make the alliance possible?

The Frankish Carolingian family were the only barbarian group of their time who converted to the non-Arian form of Christianity while their fellow barbarian groups converted to Arianism (Arians believed that God the Father and the Son of God did not always exist together eternally.) and consequently the Franks were the only nearby group compatible with the Pope. The Byzantine emperors of the eastern empire were not protecting the Pope from the Lombards (who were invading the church’s land) so Pope Gregory III looked to Charles Martel, leader of the Franks. Charles Martel said no and eventually they all died but his successor (Pippin the younger) wanted the new Pope Zachary’s assurance that he was the true king of the franks (because he had no royal blood). A spectacular ceremony took hold where he was anointed king. Zachary died and the new Pope Steven II decreed that any rulers had to have the pope’s approval to be truly king. Pippin went over to the Lombards on the other side of the Alps and destroyed them, giving power over Rome back to the pope instead of the Emperor. In the mid-700s AD, the Papal Frankish Alliance was formed.

Western Civilization lesson 110

What was the Great Schism? What factors brought it on?

Schism; definition. Believe it or not, the E and W suffered from GS in 1054 AD despite being one once. Something had to give—after all they were miles apart, not just spatially but in their beliefs and rituals regarding Catholicism. Shadily, two churches had been feuding for a long time. It began with Constantinople’s ambitions to be an even greater political power in 381. Constantinople was all “We should be the head of everything including the church.” And Rome was like “No. We’re the best forever because we were founded by St. Peter. Plus politics has nothing to do with religion” Constantinople was all “Yeah well we were founded by St Andrew.” (They weren’t.) There were other problems between the two sides as well. The East and the West spoke in different languages (Rome=Latin, C=Greek) and held different powers in esteem for their religious practices. (Rome= Pope, C gave power to their state officials, called patriarchs, to make the decisions for their church) In 1054 the Great Schism officially took place. Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople, closed all of the Western Roman churches in Constantinople. The Western Church didn’t like that so the Roman Legates excommunicated Michael. The East naturally sided with their own patriarch and split off to become the Orthodox while the west became the Roman Catholics.

Western Civilization lesson 115

What are some common misconceptions about the Crusades, and why are they incorrect?

The Crusades were Christian missions to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims, decreed necessary by Pope Uban II in 1095. Several attempts were made to recapture the holy land but every single one is affiliated with the same misconceptions.

The first and most famous of these is that the Crusades were an unprovoked terror on Muslim citizens. However, the Muslims had already seized control of the Middle East, North Africa, Asia Minor, Spain, and were busy invading France and Italy. While it is true that the Christians were not shy about ravaging the people they encountered, the Crusades were not without aggravation caused by the Muslim peoples. Continue reading

Western Civilization lesson 120

What did the Albigensians believe?

At the turn of the twelfth century, the Albigensians, a religious sect which was in itself split off a larger group called Catharists (that had itself split off from the Catholic Church), came to prominence in the South of France. This occurred because they openly received bountiful support from the French nobles of the region. What was so different about the Albigensians that they couldn’t bear to be Catholics? To start off, they were not monotheistic. The first god in their belief was almost identical to the Catholic’s God, but only controlled the spiritual side of the universe. The second god was completely opposite from the first. He not only constructed his kingdom of all things material, but was evil and avaricious. In a desperate attempt to reject the evil god, they condemned all earthly possessions including their own bodies as despicable. To die a pregnant woman was seen as the greatest evil ever because the women in question was in the act of bringing more evil into the world. The Albigensians scorned the sacraments because their god’s gifts must be purely spiritual. For the same reason, they also rejected the incarnation. Continue reading

Western Literature lesson 115

“How important was the doctrine of hell to the martyrs?”

The doctrine of hell is described as a definite place where souls receive God’s punitive retribution.” Jesus has described Hell as unimaginable tortures endured in full consciousness for eternity. However no one need be afraid of ending up unjustly in this eternal torment, for God is never cruel. The martyrs knew this and believed in God so strongly that they were willing to undergo terrible pain and humiliation so that their immortal souls could escape the eternal punishment. Anyone with a lesser belief would have caved when faced with earthly tortures but the martyrs knew that simply their belief and true love in God would save them in the end. If they had simply revoked their beliefs to the Romans, the Emperor would have spared them, but that would have been denying themselves. The doctrine of hell was the very drive of so many Christians to become martyrs.

Western Literature lesson 140

“Do you think the typical listener to a recitation of this poem would have spotted the discrepancies?”

The Song of Roland is an epic poem written in the 11th century that transformed the defeat of Charlemagne in the late 8th century, on his quest to reclaim Spanish territory from the Muslims, into a glorious victory. The 11th century was not a time of learning, so it makes sense that many of the common folk would completely miss most—if not all—of the discrepancies in the poem. There were many to choose from. Armies of only a few thousand emerged from battle hundreds of thousands of soldiers stronger and half dead soldiers rose up to defeat a newly arrived army…and won! Perhaps the most noticeable discrepancy was when Charlemagne’s army neglected to notice the blaring of 1000 horns but managed to hear the horn of a single dying soldier. It seems impossible to us nowadays to reason that the typical listeners to this poem would not have noticed all of these facts but a couple of defenses on their side can be made nonetheless. Continue reading

Western Literature lesson 91

According to Mark’s gospel, what was main issue dividing Jesus from the leaders of Israel?

The Pharisees followed traditional rules without exception, even forgetting about God in the process. But Jesus chastised them by questioning, “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” Besides rebuking the Pharisees, Jesus also went around performing miracles and forgiving everyone’s sins; and the religious leaders could not accept this because they were the supposed supreme rulers. Also, this indicated that Jesus truly was what he called himself, the Son of God, and they found themselves unable to believe his claims. Jesus was about love, mercy, and including all, even Gentiles. Because this was a message for the people, they ecstatically flocked to him, and the Pharisees grew to hate him. Being the self-avowed and disdainful wise guys that they were, they challenged him on everything he preached and often taunted him with seemingly unanswerable questions. They tried to make him slip up. For instance, in Mark 12:17, the Pharisees argue with Jesus. Continue reading