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Religious Change in Europe 1650–1914Essays for John McManners$
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Nigel Aston

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205968

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205968.001.0001

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‘Superstitious enemies of the flesh’? The Variety of Benedictine Responses to the Enlightenment

‘Superstitious enemies of the flesh’? The Variety of Benedictine Responses to the Enlightenment

Chapter:
(p.149) 7 ‘Superstitious enemies of the flesh’? The Variety of Benedictine Responses to the Enlightenment
Source:
Religious Change in Europe 1650–1914
Author(s):

Dom Aidan Bellenger

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205968.003.0008

The thinkers of the European Enlightenment were born into a Christian world and, however jaundiced the views of many of them became of the ‘ascetic, superstitious enemies of the flesh’, it is remarkable how some kind of dialogue was maintained between many Church members, including monks, and those who, to use one of Peter Gay's definitions of Enlightenment, looked towards ‘the organized habit of criticism’. Both those who remained attached to the Church and those who chose to reject it shared a love of classical antiquity and a lack of appreciation for the Middle Ages. When one looks at Benedictine monasticism today, one tends to look through a neo-Gothic filter of revived medievalism.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, Christian world, Middle Ages, Benedictine monasticism, medievalism, Church

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