A Millennium of Separating

With the intention of zooming out a bit for some mid-afternoon reflection, I note Robert Louis Wilken’s review of a book by Tom Holland and its striking proclamation:

That, at least, is the thesis of Tom Holland’s new book, The Forge of Christendom, a provocative and elegantly written account of the end of the first millennium and the beginning of the second. [Pope Gregory VII] did not live to witness his ultimate victory. But “the cause for which he fought,” writes Holland, a British historian and radio personality, “was destined to establish itself as perhaps the defining characteristic of Western civilization.” That characteristic is the division of the world into Church and state, with these realms distinct from each other. In Holland’s eyes, Gregory “stood as godfather to the future.”

As the subsequent millennium completes its turn, the trend has become for the state to leverage that principle of separation to bind the Church. Where we’ll be 1,000 years from now will have much to do with our resolution of the current conflict.

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