Seven Lies About Catholic History: Infamous Myths About The Church's Past And How To Answer Them
TAN Books (2010)
In my book How To Wolf proof Your Kids, I speak of the need to train both yourself and your child in critical thinking. We need to give Catholic children, and indeed all children, the skills to think critically about the information that is given them. The problem parents ...often face is that the things that are said are only mom and dad's opinion or own personal bias. That is why it is important to supplement your child's education with information that will show that there really is a need to think critically about what is presented as facts in high school and college textbooks.
One book that I recommend for parents is Diane Moczar's book, Seven Lies About Catholic History. Unlike another book that was favorably reviewed (How the Catholic Church Builds Western Civilization by Thomas E Woods) which examined areas in the history of civilization that are normally omitted or downplayed because of its Catholic contents, Seven Lies About Catholic History focuses on areas that are deliberately distorted so as to make the Catholic Church look either foolish, bloody, or both.
The Enlightenment and the birth of 18th-century rationalism brought with it new historical works whose anti-Catholic bias distorted certain periods of history. Even though modern scholarship has shown that these distortions or "lies" are entirely false, they nevertheless continue to be passed on whether through textbooks or through "common knowledge."
Seven Lies takes on the most prominent of these distorted area issues such as: Whether the Dark Ages really was a time of intellectual stagnation? Is the Catholic Church really the "enemy of progress?" Are the Crusades really unjustifiable? Was the Spanish Inquisition really the most bloodiest institution in the Middle Ages? Is that Galileo trial an indictment against science? Was the Spanish explorers discovery of the New World really the destruction of a noble and well developed ancient civilization?
Overall the book is a solid work by competent historian. There are a few topics that I would have addressed in the different way, but with really no substantial difference. The author does make it rather odd off-the-cuff remark concerning Pope John Paul II "apology" for Galileo that I do not completely agree with. However, as far as the material is concerned, the book is well done and worthy of picking up.
Outside of these few caveats, the book's strongest point is it's indictment of intentional anti-Catholic bias and distortions. The author tracks down where these distortions happened and why. This was for me the most important and most interesting facet of this book. We often hear about anti-Catholic distortions and legends being passed as historical fact. Some of us may have even researched the topics and know what really happened. But few of us are trained historians who know the sources well enough to be able to explain to someone where, why, and by whom, the fact of history had been altered.
The book also sports an appendix for further reading on each topic. Recommendations are very good although I should caution the reader that these recommended books range from popular, easy to read, works to very technical historical treatments. For me, I love the technical historical stuff, but that may not be very practical for most people.
I also thought it was helpful that the author spoke of being a history teacher in higher education and being forced to decide whether to teach her class what is said in the textbook or teach what actually happened. Many times kids go to high school or college and think that everything that is said in the classroom is solid as a rock when in fact the textbook may be faulty, or the teacher may be faulty, or both. It's good for the student to know that textbooks and teachers are not infallible.
Seven Lies About Catholic History is overall a very good book in that it is short and concise, it exposes deliberate errors, and it provides a very good short summary of what really happened. I'm glad I added this puts my library and I'm happy to recommend it for years as well.