So, my kid has been assigned an essay for her AP World History class: briefly compare and contrast the tenets of Islam and Christianity from their beginnings through 1650 (because this is the first half of AP World History -- it only goes through 1650).
She comes to me with her fists clenching her hair. "So...Islam has the Shahada, right?"
"Right," I agree.
"And Christians have what, exactly? Is that the Jesus prayer? The bit where they say I accept Jesus as my Savior, or what?"
"No. Please. Just..."
"Sorry," I said, because she hates it when it's complicated. "It is. See, if you're Catholic, you gotta get Confirmed. And if you're Mormon, there's a whole process, you can't just be baptized, you gotta pass an interview, and I think there are classes, and --"
"NO. JUST STOP."
"And for Baptists and Pentecostals, there are altar calls, you gotta get the Holy Ghost, you can't just want Jesus, you have to be called to Jesus. And --"
She began wailing.
"I'm sorry, babycakes," I said. "It really is complicated. But you don't have to put all that in your paper. Just give one or two examples, and say that there are many other Christian sects. It will be fine."
"I hate writing papers! I hate this!"
"Oh, come on. Writing papers is easy. Now, math is hard."
She flung me a murderous glare and stomped away.
2 hours ago
Complicated it is alright. If she actually looked into the breadth and depth of what is called Christianity, all the way from the screaming Holy Rollers to the nattering nabobs of the Holy High One Church, I expect she might have a 'splody head.
I still cannot comprehend this after more decades of life than I care to contemplate.
The paper topic is way too broad, is the big problem here. But nothing to be done about that.
I'd guess for Christianity through 1650, she needs to address three major groups: Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Lutheran Protestantism. There's no point to looking at Mormonism until later. It oversimplifies, but there are points of split that can make sense.
But I'm with you, WAY hugely broad topic. I bet she's supposed to do it all in five paragraphs, too?
Yes! Five paragraphs. I mean, Jeez.
When I looked at the assignment, I just laughed. Five paragraphs? You need five books to cover that.
I'm having her look at Roman Catholics and Baptists. Do you think Greek Orthodox and Lutherans would be better?
I might go with Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox, because the schism is really important, and both of those religions are in much closer juxtaposition with the development of Islam through the early modern period. And then a sentence acknowledging that the protestant reformation becomes really important after 1475, and many sects were already present or developed, too.
And wow, wouldn't it make more sense to ask about second temple and diaspora Judaism, early Christianity, and Islam?
"...Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox, because the schism is really important"
Ooo, good point. I wasn't even thinking of that.
Yeah, I don't think this teacher is even thinking of the Jews. (Go figure.) She seems really sharp and very nice and she's working on her PhD, but we're right here in Bible Land. I think it's just a blind spot.
I could be wrong.
If I were limited to five paragraphs on this subject, I'd be frustrated, too.
Just to complicate things, Christianity in the first country to adopt the religion (Armenia) doesn't fall into any of the three major groups; the monophysite controversy played a major role in why the Armenian Apostolic Church doesn't fit in.
The Ethiopian Church doesn't fall into any of the three groups, either. I'd be tempted to look at the "Eastern" churches that were out of the so-called mainstream before the Orthodox-Catholic schism.
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