Chapter Eighteen: Mental Revolutions: Religion And Science In The
Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries
What was Armesto trying to convey with the story of the Christian missionary in the
The behavior of missionaries twenty indigenous population was distinctly different from that of
lease Spaniards making the indigenous chiefs suspicions that the missionaries in which come to
their village were in fact not Spaniards. Bellunti, the chief has village they were at, except to
them as missionaries because the priests sat down and eat with them without hesitation.
Why were the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries an unprecedented era in the
revitalization of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam? Why did European elites attempt to
change Christian practice and teaching during the sixteenth century?
Where were Muslim
and Buddhist missionaries most active in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? What
role did missionaries play in this revitalization?
How did the missionary strategies of these
different faiths compare?
Contact was initiated primarily by the Europeans.
A new sense of mission came out of western
Christendom to spread the word and combat evil. People employed by the church or with a sense
of a strong personal relationship with God took it upon themselves to spread the religion, giving
rise to new religious orders, techniques of prayer, new fashions in devotion, and increased
coercion and social control. Their strategy was to convert to poor, bring strays back into the
church, include children, and go abroad to convert ‘pagans”. Many rural people in Europe still
practiced ‘pagan’ religions; their sacred groves and sites were destroyed. Festivals and sports,
such as bear bating were banned, local saints were disowned. The shift was away from regions
that supported survival in this world to salvation in the next. Practitioners of ‘magic’ were
labeled ‘witches’. The Church attempted to take control of everyday life, such as marriage. The
Spanish Inquisition, 1478, started by monitoring converts but also was used to control people’s
sex lives. In response to lay demand for greater access to the mysteries of Christianity, increased
access to sacraments, devotions, and private prayer were instituted. Martin Luther was one of the
most effective new messengers. Being dissatisfied with the wealth and power of the church, he
encouraged rulers to take control of the religion and return it to a simple, poorer tradition. He
came to see the practices of the papacy as evil. Using the printing press and local dialectics, he
reached many people in the Baltic and his way of thinking about Christianity became dominant.
This new religious tactic spread into other areas as well. Other reformations followed;
evangelical, protestant, and reformed. This triggered a Catholic reformation. New religious
orders were founded. The Jesuits became the most important reformers both in the old world and
new world for the church. The reformation resulted in the lay person becoming more engaged