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The stark antithesis between the secular and the religious has been effectively challenged by scholarship of early modern Italy, which has shown the degree to which these fields necessarily overlapped. Nevertheless, studies of early modern female devotion, especially within convents, often present women as caught between competing claims of kinship and clerical authority, a conflict between family and convent, an opposition between the secular and the divine. This paper argues that within Neapolitan conventual circles, at least, nuns' noble blood was regarded as enhancing the spiritual value of their convents, and that, on the whole, the way in which the Decrees of the Council of Trent were interpreted served to “aristocratize” convents. Something of a fusion occurred between nobility and spirituality in women. This paper relates this fusion to discourses on nobility and to the aristocratization of convent culture after enclosure at Trent, examining how it marked post-Tridentine Neapolitan convent architecture and urbanism. In short, I argue that nuns' nobility enhanced the spiritual value of Neapolitan convents after Trent, and that such status was communicated discursively, architecturally, and urbanistically.
In 1996, Bernhard Lohse wondered if the Luther presented by some would recognize the Luther described by others. Trying to recognize the “political” Luther would be especially difficult. On the one hand, Thomas Müntzer was but the first in a long line of polemicists, journalists, politicians, and scholars who have accused Luther of releasing the sword of secular authority from all control and thereby opening up centuries of authoritarian subjugation. On the other hand, Peter Frarin argued in 1566 that Protestantism equaled sedition, rebellion, and the subversion of civil order. In the criticism of Luther for being either too conservative or too liberal, one thing remained fairly constant: the source of Luther's major shortcoming—his theology of the Two Kingdoms.
In May 1653, John Murcot, a well-connected Merton College Oxford graduate, travelled to Cork to preach at the request of local Puritans. As a minister adhering to the Independent system of church order, he had already faced a series of challenges to the fulfilment of his clerical calling. In the 1640s, his studies had been interrupted when Royalist troops occupied his university; on his first journey to Dublin, in 1651, he had narrowly escaped capture at the hands of pirates in the Irish Sea. In Cork, Murcot's ministry met with much success until he became entangled in a controversy that threatened to tear apart the local Puritan administration and, more widely, the Irish Puritan consensus.
The connections between the Polish Reformed Churches and the Dutch Eglises Wallonnes have never been properly examined. Apart from a few notes in articles from the beginning of the twentieth century, no attempt has been made to describe them in an integrated manner, taking into account the Walloon archives in the Bibliotheque Wallonne, as well as other Walloon sources. The aim of this publication is to examine Walloon–Polish communications in the eighteenth century, a time important for both the Walloons and the Polish Reformed. While for the former it was a period of growth and expansion, for the latter it was quite the opposite. This difference allowed the Walloon to help the Poles in their plight, strengthening the Walloon's position as supporters of endangered Protestant communities worldwide.
Writers on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England have stressed the significance of doctors and clergy in the provision of residential care for the better-off mad person. “The private madhouse trade in fact started with the practice of doctors taking private patients into their homes.” So wrote Macalpine and Hunter. According to William Parry-Jones, English “lunatics from the more affluent classes were cared for individually, often in the custody of medical men or clergymen.” The two professions commonly overlapped, meaning that clerics could provide medical care. Andrew Mason has written enthusiastically that “towards the end of the seventeenth-century, so-called ‘clerical mad doctors’ abounded.” As educated men working in an occupation with few barriers to entry, English clergy could “readily take up medicine,” which was just one element of the burgeoning eighteenth-century market place. “Those entering the madbusiness were drawn from … clergymen, both orthodox and non-conformist, businessmen, widows, surgeons, speculators, and physicians.”
In 1846, Oran Brownson, the older brother of the famed Catholic convert Orestes A. Brownson, penned a letter to his brother recounting a dream Orestes had shared with him much earlier. In the dream, Orestes, Oran, and a third brother, Daniel, were “traveling a road together.” “You first left the road then myself and it remains to be seen whether Daniel will turn out of the road (change his opinion),” Oran wrote. At approximately the same period in which Orestes converted to Catholicism “because no other church possessed proper authority,” Oran joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because he believed that “proper authority rests among the Mormons.” Indeed, in an era characterized by denominational proliferation, democratization, and competition, Catholic and Mormon claims to divine authority proved appealing to some Americans, like the Brownsons, wearied by the diversity and disunity of the Protestant world. Oran cautioned Orestes to not trust polemical literature against Mormonism, but to “get your information from friends and not enemies.” Orestes could have repeated the same warning about Catholicism, given the number and intensity of nineteenth-century attacks on both Catholics and Mormons. Leaving mainstream Christianity to join the most despised religions in nineteenth-century America, the Brownson brothers embarked on spiritual quests that few contemporary Americans would have understood, much less approved.
The mid twentieth century was an important period of theological and liturgical change for mainline Protestants. Theologically, the optimistic liberalism of the turn of the century came under sharp critique from a variety of theologians who sought to give greater attention tc the historic Christian doctrines. Liturgically, the practices of evangelicalism were compared to historic models of Christian worship and found wanting. No American was more prominent in the theological critique than Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). After rising to national prominence as a preacher and essayist while serving as a pastor ir Detroit, Michigan, he joined the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1928 and gained an international reputation as a social ethicist, preacher, and advocate of a theological perspective known variously as “Christian realism” or “neo-orthodoxy.” It is less well known that as part of his theological program Niebuhr advocated liturgical reform. From his days in Detroit when he confessed devoting an entire fall “to a development of our worship services” to the height of his career when he warned that “a church without adequate conduits of traditional liturgy” is “without the waters of life,” Niebuhr was vitally concerned with “the weakness of common worship in American Protestantism.”