Reflections on World History

Home » Uncategorized » Ch 15: Documents and Images on Religion and Culture in the Early Modern World

Ch 15: Documents and Images on Religion and Culture in the Early Modern World



The documents left me wondering about what we think of the relationship between religion and science and how different religions define knowledge and “progress.” The images are interesting for what they reveal about how malleable religion can be, how  traditions can evolve when placed in new contexts.

Feel free to respond to these questions, or any others you find interesting. I look forward to reading your posts! – Dr. Davidson



  1. Simbuilder5 says:

    The Sketch of the Progress of the Human Mind by Marquis De Condorcet provides an insight into the future of what mankind should be. He stated that “Each individual will work less but more productively and will be able to better satisfy his needs.” (757). He also proclaimed that inequality should be erased, equality should be preached, and that we should have an improvement on humanity. His predictions are those of many today. Everyone believes the world is getting better. There will always be this inequality and we all are aware of this. It really provides a duplicity where we wish for these things, yet we know they won’t come true. I really like his optimism and he even speaks about how we need to reestablish human intelligence and break down long-held prejudices that have been instilled from birth. A lot of what he was speaking of pertained to religion. It teaches things with a sort of finality that causes people to become ignorant of change or as he states “…something he does not understand.” (757). Marquis really broke the world’s viewpoints down in this document and I really enjoyed his point of view? What do you guys think?

    Winston S.

    • Samuel says:

      “Science vs. religion”, a new but rather important debate, I say new because the argument between the two ideas began during the scientific revolution. 1500-1700 not only marked the discovery of far and distant lands but new ways of thinking in regards to our solar system, planet, and the origin of organisms therein. Was the sun, moon, and stars spoke into existence, and then miraculously placed in orbit by God as the church would say? Men like Galileo, among other great minds, began secretly doubting the creation and many aspects of their catholic faith upon discovering a path of knowledge that would soon suggest that our universe evolved over trillion of years of evolution originating from a big bang. Although the church did not respond very positive to new ways of thinking in regards to science the ideas still transpired.

  2. ajones188 says:

    Out of the many choices of sources one could choose from, I found sources 15.1 to be the most interesting – amusing as well. Luther is known to have recorded all the things wrong with the Catholic Church and how they should be corrected. He refers to the Pope, bishops, and cardinals as “a pack of guzzling, stuffing wretches, rich, wallowing in wealth and laziness, resting secure in their power, and never…thinking of accomplishing God’s will” (p. 754). Luther claims that a person in religious power should not be ultimately self-centered and should allow the people to have a personal relationship with God.

    -Anastasia Jones

  3. G. Readdy says:

    The images of religions and globalization are fascinating, but the first two visual sources depicting the differences between Protestant churches and Catholic churches better explains why the Protestant movement was formed to begin with. The Catholic church, in Luther’s eyes, were seen as extremely greedy. He did not like the fact that the church was selling God’s grace to people to “relieve” them of their sins. To Martin Luther, as the book states, saw the elaborate Catholic church as “spiritual danger” and feared that people would rely on buying their way into having rather than relying on God’s grace.(763) As you can see between the images, Protestant churches were extremely modest compared to the Catholic churches with no images or anything else on the walls. Protestant belived modesty was a value of God’s grace. Protestants also believed the images of saints were seen as idolatry, while the Catholics seen them as a gift to God. The differences between these two similar denominations are striking; This shows evidence to why the Reformation took place.

  4. Jazzmin says:

    I find these visuals to be the most interesting so far due to the fact that they all for the most part depict the same image and ideas just in a different way. Document 15.3,15.4,and 15.5 all show the Christian Mother Mary in different forms, However one image is from the Latin perspective, one is from the Chinese perspective and one is from the Indian perspective. Theses images are so interesting because they all show the spread of Christianity throughout drastically different cultures.

  5. Anna B. says:

    Visual Sources 15.1 and 15.2 comparison. Each of these sources show two very different sides of religion. The obvious differences between these two churches is that 15.1 is much more basic; this interior demonstrates Martin Luther’s views that church should be a place to worship God and gain entrance into heaven through Gods grace. 15.2 shows the elaborate decorative style of the Catholic religion, which Martin Luther viewed as a way of attempting to buy your way into heaven by purchasing elegant statues and funding the painting of murals on ceilings. If a protestant was to enter a Catholic church, or vice versa, I think they would find it incredibly offensive. A protestant may view the elaborate style as indulging in luxuries that should not be necessary when worshiping God. A Catholic could possibly view the interior of the Protestant church as insulting due to the lack of the elaboration. Thinking that the protestants do not value their worship because of a lack of religious depictions. The Catholics may think that by having these depictions it is easier to connect with and worship God and the saints, but on the other hand the protestants see worshiping God as something more internal that does not require elaborate visual depictions.

  6. Krys M. says:

    The first two visual sources (15.1 and 15.2) interest me the most in this chapter because they highlight many key similarities in almost opposing religious beliefs. The are both churches/places of worship for a high deity, and while the architectural structure seems completely different at first glance, it is not. I notice when looking closer that both churches contain pews and even though the church in 15.2 is much more fancy in stylistic qualities, they both are almost exact in structure. Both churches have high rise ceilings and well as numerous incredible arches which shows just how similar they truly are. I believe this exemplifies the fact that even though there are a wide assortment of religions in the world today, in the end they are have similarities when examined closely enough.

  7. Shamira says:

    From reading the section about The Birth of Modern Science, it interested me so much how the world made such a drastic change so suddenly with how people’s thought processes now were. People who had been so devoutly religious were beginning to think in new ways and asking questions that had never been asked before. A new culture had been born, one that separated the “modern” forward thinking scientists from the “ancient” church-based people. These new free-thinking people began to challenge the old social norms and political systems. While the Catholic people viewed progress in a way that involved God, the scientists viewed progress as gaining knowledge about the world and applying this knowledge to continue growing. These difference created a rift between the groups two of people that still exists to this day.

  8. Arian Amiri says:

    Visual source 15.3 was very interesting to me and definitely caught my eye. With so much happening in this image, I had to do my blog entry on it. In the Andes, many tried to blend European Catholic Christianity with its’ religious symbols and also with ideas and beliefs of their own culture. The Virgin Mary is centered in this image, showing their religious belief in Catholic Christianity while at the same time including many symbols of beliefs of their own culture. The head of The Virgin Mary sits on a mountain. The mountain symbolizes fertility. This mountain, “rich mountain” is where the Spanish extracted a ton of silver which is a strong symbol to them which could be why the mountains are the body of The Virgin Mary. To the left and the right of The Virgin Mary are the sun and the moon. Also, a focus in the image, although smaller than the mountains, being the body of The Virgin Mary. The Andean people believed in a sun god, Inti, and a moon goddess, Killa which are incorporated in this image showing how these people tried to blend European Catholic Christianity with their own beliefs and culture.

  9. Jessica says:

    Document 15.4
    The Poetry of Kabir

    Kabir was known in India practically as a saint, whose writing significantly influenced religions and people such as Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. In regards to Hinduism, Kabir accepts the belief of reincarnation and the whole concept of Karma. Instead of just focusing on one religion, his poems and writing symbolized a unification of Hindu and Muslim beliefs. He portrayed a new direction to the Indian philosophy and tried to show the people acceptance in oneself as is. According to Kabir, salvation was the ultimate key to bringing unity amongst principles of the religions.

  10. Matthew C. says:

    The interior of the Catholic Baroque church makes me feel like God is very mighty. Also, it gives me the hint that people made these types of churches to signifies God’s mightiness. This church definitely put some fear into people to encourage them to worship God. The Baroque style was very popular in the 16th century, the style appeared in many different places in the world. While examining the place where the minister preaches, I notice that it is very intricate and decorative. Most likely, people of the church thought the minister was closest to God and the minister deserve a place to represent it God in a powerful way.

  11. mina-s says:

    “It is needless to ask of a saint the caste to which he belongs; For the priest, the warrior, the tradesman, and all the thirty-six castes, alike are seeking for God…”

    I loved these lines from “Poetry” by Kabir, translated by Rabindranath Tagore, in Document 15.4. I certainly think this poem can represent “progress” in religion, because this poem was a very enjoyable read and the introduction that explained the piece in the Document has even said that “the sectarian difference among the religions in India dissolved” because his poetry “remains revered among Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs alike”. It’s always a fresh breath of air when art, in this case, poetry, can unite people, even if there are existing conflicts because of religion or any other problems that may be present.

  12. R.Hunter says:

    in Visual Source 15.4, the picture introduces the elite/educated Chinese to Christianity using familiar cultural items. The European painting included common geographic scenes so the Chinese could relate and be intrigued by the spread of Christianity. The furniturre in the houe in the painting shows objects that would be held by a wealthy Chinese scholar. That is why I didn’t mention the entire Chinese population, just the elite and educated. Eurpoeans wanted to have an efficient spread of Christianity only by introducing this to the Chinese wealthy or educated. Also, the painting left out the crucifiction of Jesus.Obviously, they did this to make the religion look as positive as possible and not scare away the Chinese.

  13. Kendall K. says:

    Document 15.4 is an example of Europeans trying to convert the Chinese to Christianity. In the picture, we see that Mary and the angel are shown to be Chinese. The setting that this picture is taking place in is a Chinese setting. The Jesuits were heavily trying to appeal to the Chinese in order to convince them that Christianity is not really that different from what they believe in now. The Jesuits were trying to make this image seem similar to that of Buddhist and Daoist images. While some Chinese people may have bought into this, a lot of educated Chinese people would look at this and laugh. Chinese people are not stupid. This image probably made a lot of Chinese people angry. The Chinese may have thought that Europeans were trying to mock their religion. This image was a bad idea.
    -Kendall K.

  14. DHarris says:

    In Visual Source 15.4, it provides an example of Christianity becoming Chinese. The Jesuits published many books in Chinese illustrating the life of Christ and represented it in many wood block prints as represented. The architectural qualities of the house show that a great deal of work went into constructing the house. This means that the resident was probably wealthy and of great importance. The picture shows a bird coming down from the sky, this could be a symbol such as when Noah was met from a dove that descended from heaven. The European has wings, it could be showing the Christianity or it could be an angel that has come down to spread Christianity to the Chinese. The angel has a small tree or branch, that may represent spiritual growth.

  15. Garrett Mitchell says:

    The comparisons between the churches in pictures 15.1 and 15.2 show how the Protestant Reformation put a huge riff between christians in europe.The protestant church shown in figure 15.1 show how the new protestant interpretation of church became more of place of congregation and worship as opposed to the Catholic interpretation which was more temple centric view of a parish. Figure 15.2 shows how the Catholics felt the importance of aesthetic appeal of sanctuaries for worship. Considering the Catholic belief in transubstantiation, it makes sense the sanctuaries would be so well furnished and ornate. If you are in God’s house and he and his son are in attendance during each Mass, it would make sense the clergy and congregation would prefer the church to be well have more decor than just a humble meeting place.

  16. Daisha B. says:

    In visual source at the bottom of page 729, the painting done by Marcos Zapata really caught my attention. I love the painting done by Da Vinci titled “The last Supper”. To see Zapata’s take on this dynamic moment in history is refreshing because there are so many different accounts and opinions on this specific event. The meal that is depicted in this portrait is filled with a variety of dishes that I would assume cost a lot at that time. The main food was pig, which is placed at the center of the table.
    When ever I attend church, and it is the first sunday of the month, the pastor speaks of only wine and bread (representing the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ). I would think that to be the centered dish in the painting instead of pig and other assorted dishes.
    Also if you examine the body language of the men in the painting, you will notice that all of them are leaning their bodies toward Jesus. Well, all except one man. If you look to the bottom right corner there is a man facing away from Jesus with a look that i cannot describe on his face.
    He is said to represent Francisco Pizzaro (the Spanish conqueror of the Inca Empire). I wonder why Zapata chose to include him in this painting. What was the meaning?

  17. Sidney Nelson says:

    I found Visual Sources 15.1 and 15.2 to be very interesting. There are many obvious differences between a typical Dutch Reformed (Protestant) Church and the typical Catholic Church. For starters, the Catholic church is a lot more decorative with beautiful paintings, ceiling frescoes, and statues. In addition, they have a representation of Jesus on the cross and many other biblical references. The Dutch Church on the other hand, appears to be very plain and dull. There are no decorations whatsoever in any part of the church. I think the Dutch Church would have evoked more serious and intimate emotional responses more independently, whereas the Catholic Church would evoke more religious responses relating to God and the church as a whole.
    – Sidney N.

  18. JoslynP says:

    The Protestant Reformation led to people deciding to think for themselves. In Document 15.2, Marquis de Condorcet touches on the importance of science and the progression of the human mind. This is actually one of my favorite subjects. He talks about how every single human is born with the powers of their own mind and how religion suppresses the use of those powers and refrains one from deciding their own reason. The human specie could progress much more if we think for ourselves and not be blinded by the rules and laws implemented by man such as priests, popes, and the government. God/The Universe gave everyone equal liberty and if everyone would come to realization that religion was put in place to control the masses then a lot the the issues in the world would no longer exist. The people become brainwashed by what religion believes to be ‘knowledge’ when really true knowledge comes from self reasoning and the Scientific Revolution opened that door for people to realize that. The Universe has it’s own set of laws as to what life is and how the world works. The only problem is getting the rest of the people to open up their mind and realize it. Everyone is control of their own destiny, that is true freedom and unlocking that power or realization is true ‘Heaven.’ After personally researching this topic, I found that there are several parallels in the Bible on Metaphysics but in religion, it is misinterpreted, but if you learn to decode the Bible is saying much much more than what the words appear to be conveying. You have to use your own reason to understand; not the belief that any priest or pope instills in your mind.

    -Joslyn P.

  19. ajohnson206 says:

    In the article “India: Bridging the Hindu/Muslim Divide” on page 738, I found the people of Sikhism extremely interesting. The Sikhs believed that “there is no Hindu; there is no Muslim; only God”. This strikes me as interesting because there are a few similarities between Sikhism such as the turban-wearing. Another part of the religion that is interesting is the fact that Sikhs had to carry a short sword with them. Hinduism and Muslim is based off of peace and treating one another with kindness. Therefore, why did Sikhs carry around a sword? If they believe that there is “…only God.”, then why don’t they trust the power and safety of God to keep them safe? This came across me as not only odd, but extremely interesting.

  20. Kameron H says:

    Document 15.2 was very interesting to me as it provides a very detailed prediction for the future of mankind. Condorcet yearns for the day when the “sun will shine only on free men.” This reveals that Condorcet has an oppositional view to the slavery of his time as did most enlightened thinkers. He realizes that human progression is hindered by wars, slavery, and tyranny; and the only way to fully move forward is to eradicate all of these. Condorcet’s prediction has partially became reality in some parts of the world. Equality has mostly been established in some territories , slavery has ceased , and independence has been made. However a lot more things have yet to be fulfilled showing that the human mind takes more time to progress than two centuries.

  21. Denny says:

    I found really interesting the visual source 15.3. Where we can see the Virgin Mary which symbolize the European Christianity. This picture show her with amazing clothing and other figures around her that has diferents meaning to the religion. What really caught my attention is that in the next couple sources we found again the Virgin Mary but with different clothes and figures in other cultures. This represent the spread of Christianity around the world.

  22. Shanakay W. says:

    Source 15.1 interests me because it was painted after the reformation began in the early 16 century. The reformation in itself is interested because Martian Luther protest against the Catholic Church and his disappointment in the church caused him to create a new branch of Christianity which is now known as Protestantism. Source 15.1 depicts Martin Luther and several other church members holding a colossal quill, writing on the doors of the Catholic Church. The writing on the door was a direct attack to the Catholic Church because it was a list of criticism and a list of things that were wrong with the Catholic Church. Martian Luther’s displeasure in the church caused him to create a new religion that people still adhere by till this day.

    – Shanakay W.

  23. dzdavidson says:

    Several of these blogs propose really interesting analysis of the documents and images, but many are too descriptive. Everyone needs to work on taking an analytical perspective when thinking and writing about primary sources. Don’t just summarize what they say. Try to develop a more analytical point by focusing in on one aspect of the text or image and working through why it took a particular shape or form.

  24. Grecia C. says:

    I enjoyed reading “Luther’s Protest” and “Table Talk” in Doc 15.1. Based on Luther’s conversations he speaks on the pope and the church hierarchy and how the pope was not truly living a christian life to please God, but was portraying himself as a true christian to be looked up to. This really seemed to anger Luther because it was very insulting to know what the church was really about. I can understand why Luther felt this way about the realities of what was going on because this is something that should be taken very serious. “The pope and his crew are mere worshippers of idols, and servants of the devil…” (p.755) This quote from Luther shows his strong feelings towards the acts of the pope and the people involved in the church.

  25. Levon Austin (Jay-T) says:

    Visual source 15.2 compared to 15.1 can be a major cause of conflict and debate on religion. Among those that believe some type of logic has to back up why people that have a certain religion, have the practices they do. One question I’m sure that came up is “Why do those people do that over there yet they consider themselves the same as you?” In 15.2 the image is said to be a church but there are lots of statues and pictures all throughout it. 15.1 has none of that. This in itself I’m sure gave scientists the upper hand in arguments in trying to say the two churches’ reasons for belief are invalid because they even disagree with each others’ traditions. Also the individuals may have had different beliefs on where certain things, such as prayer, was directed at. One at statues and pictures, the other toward the sky or someone considered to be holy and of higher power. Replace prayer with the word knowledge or progress and the beliefs can also be the same in that manner.

  26. Jamison H says:

    In the Visual Source 15.3 you can see the blending of different religions in the New World, otherwise known as syncretism. I believe the artist was probably a European painter/missionary that was try to convert the Incas to Christianity. Mary’s relationship to The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit is that she is the earthly reason for all these things because without her there would be no Jesus and without Jesus the Earth would not be forgiven of their sins with God. Mary symbolizes the earthly bond between man and God to the Catholic religion and so she is put in the mountain as symbol to help appeal to the Inca’s religion since the . The artist also drew in some Andean figures as well as European figures to signify the blending of the two cultures. It is a very interesting piece of art and my favorite so far.

  27. Simbuilder5 says:

    The writing of France’s own declaration of independence had a very similar process that covered similar points of our own. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen by the National Assembly address the “… natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of man.” (National Assembly, 813). The first clause stated the equality and freedom every man is born with. The second clause states that some of men’s rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression. This is similar to our motto of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness in my eyes is the same concept as “resistance to oppression.” Their third clause is significant in that it is the first section of the document that starts to use nation as a phrase. We talked about in class how nation only started to emerge from this era. It’s great to see proof of that in documents like these because it gives you a sense of global understanding. Everyone around that time was trying to restructure and become a nation. In the sixth clause, they discuss that taking part in the government is a right that is “… the same for everyone whether it protects or penalizes.” (National Assembly, 813). This reminds me of some of the things Condorcet mentioned. He discussed the establishment of equality and the following administering of equality. This document fulfills both because it became a statue and a part of law. The National Assembly even parallels our first amendment when they speak about the freedom of speech and writing. I’ve enjoyed reading Document 16.1 and hopefully you all saw some similarities also. Please let me know how you felt about it!

    -Winston S

  28. Samuel says:

    I want to clarify an earlier post. I find it interesting that most popular minds we connect with enlightenment such as Copernicus, Newton, etc., were not ditching their own religious beliefs for the new science they helped discover but rather explaining God and his creation in a logical way. During the 17th century the Roman Catholic Church despised and often executed enlighten men. For example, the former friar-turned mathematician, astronomer, etc. Giordano Bruno is burn at the stake for “heresy”. Further it is estimated that approx. 100,000, so-called heretics or witches are also burned at the stake (World, 2013). Some suggest that this violent Intimidation by the church, led to Galileo’s renouncing of earlier scientific discoveries and probably so, however, it is my opinion that he never abandoned his faith. He did however doubt the institution of religion.

  29. Ashley McCall says:

    Visual Source 15.4

    Is showing Christianity becoming Chinese, depicted here Mary and an angel which is shown in a Chinese setting. Showing that the Jesuits was trying to convince people that Christianity was not too different from what they know. It is stated that the Jesuir efforts were “a fantastic and extravagant failure.” This image more then likey made a lot of people upset and their was a few conversions but not too many. There is a branch in the image that may represent blessings to mary.

  30. Jose F says:

    There is no doubt that the various major religions have played a central theme in molding world history; however, these religions themselves have been altered significantly throughout the years by different societies and their unique takes on the new religion they adopt or is imposed on them. Visual Source 15.3 depicts a Christian image of the Virgin Mary with many Andean ideas and themes hidden within it. This fusion of religions proves malleability of religion itself and the unique perseverance by the Incas to continue their tradition. It is truly amazing to see the pope juxtaposed with an Inca religious ruler in this painting of Bolivian Potosi, simply incorporating so many different ideas into one painting. Similarly, this painting parallels the experience of the Incan people as they had to incorporate different facets of their own life with Spanish life as they lived under conquest.

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