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What's Everyone Reading?

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 I’m in the middle of reading Rodney Stark’s The Triumph of Christianity which I would recommend to absolutely nobody as it is tendentious and misleading when it is not ignorant or deceives by omission.  Reading How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion you’d never guess that the ‘Christian’ ideal of a City of God was a straight steal from the Stoic ideal of a cosmopolis, that the ‘Christian’ concept of the Word was a straight steal from the Stoic concept of the Logos or how right Nietzsche was to describe Christian metaphysics as “Platonism for the masses”.   
 However, on folio 235 Stark has this to say about the Dark Ages:
“Meanwhile across the channel, the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086 as a forerunner of the modern census, reported that there were at least 5,624 water-powered mills already operating in England, or one for every fifty families, and this is known to be an undercount.24 Among many other things, mills such as these mechanized the manufacture of woolen cloth and soon enabled England to dominate the European market” etc. 

As you can see, it is less than clear whether Stark is saying that watermills played some direct role in the manufacture of woollen cloth in post- or pre-Conquest England, as though this could go for the woollen cloaks mentioned in King Offa’s diplomatic correspondence.  I’m not sure whether the popularity of English wool abroad went so far as for “dominate the European market” to be a fair and accurate way to put it ( it found its way into the Arab market in our period, if memory serves) at any time, no more than I am at all sure to what extent watermills made the wool staple more or less of an export success than it was.

Are they used for washing the wool, or something?

Then there’s: “Selective plant breeding also began in the monasteries resulting in more productive and hardy crops.”  This is in a context that definintely means the Dark Ages.  Ideas, anyone?

Not to mention: “Another revolutionary innovation was eyeglasses, which were invented in about 1280 and almost immediately went into mass production thus allowing huge numbers of people to lead productive lives who otherwise could not have done so.”

Yes, he said... mass production.  Mass production about something recorded 170 years before the printing press and 480 years before the Industrial Revolution would be a twinkle in James Watt’s eye.  Can’t wait to read about their online access to Magna Carta and how Muscovy repelled the Mongols with all those thermobaric missiles, in the go-ahead thirteenth cenutry.

Mass production...


Can anyone say what Stark’s on about?

 The moral right of the author to be identify the Women’s Land Army beating Bletchley Park, as well as the U-Boats, has been asserted. ’S true.  The Colossus was delivered to Bletchley Park in the autumn of 1943, just when the Land Girls brought in the 1943 harvest. Yet the Colossus needed a running-in period, so we did not have all-singing, all-dancing computer-guided U-Boat hunting until the November of that year.  So mainland Britain had recovered its ability to feed its own population before the ‘Moog Moment’, which would be about Guy Fawkes’ Night, 1943.  How’s that for Girl Power?

Sounds like he hasn’t done his homework and is just guessing - how annoying! I wouldn’t bother reading the rest of it!! But don’t put it in the charity box - the next person to read it might think it’s all true!!

Right now ? What else but the latest Widowinde (another excellent edition) in the sunshine, on the patio with a large glass of chilled Pinot Grigio, with cricket commentary in the background. Actually, it was yesterday. 8)   

Now that’s what I call a Right Answer, Cynewulf! It sounds idyllic!

Whoops, yes! Of course I'm reading Withowinde and it's so good I just have to get back to it.  Well done and thanks to all concerned.

( Legs it back...)


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