Pagans explores the rise of Christianity from a surprising and unique viewpoint: that of the people who witnessed their ways of life destroyed by what seemed then a powerful religious cult. These “pagans” were actually pious Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Gauls who observed the traditions of their ancestors. To these devout polytheists, Christians who worshipped only one deity were immoral atheists who believed that a splash of water on the deathbed could erase a lifetime of sin.
Religious scholar James J. O’Donnell takes us on a lively tour of the Ancient Roman world through the fourth century CE, when Romans of every nationality, social class, and religious preference found their world suddenly constrained by rulers who preferred a strange new god. Some joined this new cult, while others denied its power, erroneously believing it was little more than a passing fad.
In Pagans, O’Donnell brings to life various pagan rites and essential features of Roman religion and life, offers fresh portraits of iconic historical figures, including Constantine, Julian, and Augustine, and explores important themes—Rome versus the east, civilization versus barbarism, plurality versus unity, rich versus poor, and tradition versus innovation—in this startling account.
The dream Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar shared of uniting Europe, the Medi-terranean, and the Middle East in a single community shuddered and then collapsed in the wars and disasters of the sixth century. Historian and classicist James J. O'Donnell—who last brought readers his masterful, disturbing, and revelatory biography of Saint Augustine—revisits this old story in a fresh way, bringing home its sometimes painful relevance to today's issues.
With unexpected detail and in his hauntingly vivid style, O'Donnell begins at a time of apparent Roman revival and brings readers to the moment of imminent collapse that just preceded the rise of Islam. Illegal migrations of peoples, religious wars, global pandemics, and the temptations of empire: Rome's end foreshadows today's crises and offers hints how to navigate them—if present leaders will heed this story.
Augustine is a triumphant chronicle of an extraordinary life that is certain to surprise and enlighten even those who believed they knew the complex and remarkable man of God.
Sons of Valor, Parents of Faith shares the touching personal stories and interviews of the parents of New York City firefighters and one police detective killed on 9/11, and it takes us on their subsequent spiritual and emotional journeys. Although many of these men were young, they had already left a significant imprint on the world, and their parents now share their feelings about their grief in the aftermath of the tragedy. All the parents were brought together by the FDNY Counseling Services Unit to begin the healing process, where they learned how to heal after such a major disaster and loss.
Parents should never bury their children; however, for the parents of the 343 lost New York City firefighters, September 11, 2001 changed the rules in so many different ways. Now in their own words, the faithful parents of these heroes share their sons' bravery and sacrifice-so that it will never be forgotten.