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Religions — History
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Trials and Triumphs in Rome [electronic resource]: Christianity in the 3rd and 4th Centuries

Part one of this program places Christianity-an outlawed faith-within the context of the religiously diverse Roman Empire, whose citizens worshipped the old Greco-Roman gods, mystery cult figures such as Mithra, and the Emperor himself. But by appealing to all people and promising eternal salvation, Christianity began to surpass the popularity of the Roman religions. Part two begins with Diocletian's Great Persecution; proceeds to Constantine's conversion, the Edict of Milan, and the Council of Nicaea; and closes with the excommunication of Theodosius.
2007; 1999

Animals as Divinities [electronic resource]

Prehistoric art often renders animals in spiritual, even divine, form-but primitive beast images can also reflect a degree of humanity. This program sifts through the complexity of the animal-god concept, identifying the place of the lion, the giraffe, the wolf, the elephant, and many other creatures in a wide range of myths and religions. With detailed observations of sculpture, carvings, and statuary-including Native American totem poles, European gargoyles and grotesques, and Egyptian mummies honoring the cat-headed goddess Ubasti-the video demonstrates an age-old interconnection between our reverence for nature and our need to determine our status in it.
2007; 2005

Essentials of Faith [electronic resource]: Paganism

Drawing on ancient spirituality, most pagans sum up their chosen form of worship within a modern "green" context. Some follow druidry, others wicca, while a third brand promotes the shamanism of hunter-gatherer cultures. This program sheds light on various examples of pagan devotion put forward by four observers of ancient religious rites and customs. Through straightforward explanations and heartfelt expression, the sundry shapes and species of Paganism are explained by Druid priestess Emma Restall Orr, Professor Ronald Hutton of the University of Bristol, British coven organizer Jeanette Ellis, and shamanic practitioner Leo Rutherford.

The Politics of Belief [electronic resource]: Protestantism and the State

Although Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door, his action sparked a political upheaval as well as a religious one. This program examines the rise of the Protestant movement in Europe and its link to revolution, civil war, and modern incarnations of radical and conservative politics. Studying the theology Luther crafted at Wartburg Castle and his confrontations with papal and secular authorities, the film explores Thomas Muntzer's bloody appropriation of Protestant ideals, the Levellers' movement under Cromwell, the birth of the British Labor Party, the role of Baptist teachings in the American civil rights movement, and the conservative Protestantism embodied in the presidency of George W. Bush.
2009; 2006

The Godly Family [electronic resource]: Protestantism in the Home

Martin Luther's most effective strike against the Church may have been his decision to marry. This program shows how Luther's radical choice and the Protestant movements of the 16th and 17th centuries transformed Western attitudes toward sex, love, marriage, gender roles, and family life. Viewers will learn about the contributions of several historical figures, including Thomas Cranmer's versions of the Book of Common Prayer, the misogynist rhetoric of John Knox, Richard Baxter's unexpected marriage and its implications, and the straitlaced culture promoted by Queen Victoria. The progression away from Victorian strictures and the inclusion of women and gays in the clergy are also studied.
2009; 2006

A Reformation of the Mind [electronic resource]: Protestantism and Western Culture

At the core of the Protestant Revolution was a new emphasis on exploring and questioning the natural world. This program shows how a religious upheaval that began a half-millennium ago led to the art, literature, and science of today's Western society. The film makes the case that a humanistic approach to art first grew out of the Protestant drive to remove images from European churches in the 16th and 17th centuries. It also examines the development of the modern novel via the Protestant-informed writings of John Bunyan, Daniel DeFoe, and Charles Dickens-then reveals the Protestant underpinnings of Newtonian physics, Darwin's theories, and our technological culture.
2009; 2006

No Rest for the Wicked [electronic resource]: Protestantism and Economics

In the 21st-century landscape of shopping malls and skyscrapers, capitalism appears irreligious-but beneath its secular veneer lie theological principles born in the 1500s. This program examines the rise of the Protestant work ethic and the religious foundations of Western industry; it also reveals a Protestant consciousness at the heart of social activism and the opposition to extreme capitalism. Beginning with John Calvin and his sanctification of material success, the film focuses on Britain's Nonconformist movement, John Winthrop's colonial ventures, the Puritan basis of Benjamin Franklin's ideals, and divisions that arose within Protestantism over slavery and the excesses of factory labor.
2009; 2006

The Shadow of God [electronic resource]: Turning the Dark Side of Monotheism to the Light

No religions have proved more combative than Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, despite the fact that they share the same deity-or perhaps because of it. In this program, renowned biblical scholar and religious historian Othmar Keel sheds light on topics such as the volatile historical and cultural contexts in which the Old Testament originated; the protracted struggle of monotheism for supremacy over polytheism; and brutal ruptures between successive belief systems that have pitted Jews against polytheists, Christians against Jews, and Muslims against both Christians and Jews. Keel urges adherents of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to critically review their own histories within a vertical ecumenical vision based on their common origins and not on their denominational differences.
2007; 2006

Transjordan Part 1 [electronic resource]: Holy Land, Historical Land

Transjordan-the Oultrejordain of Crusader times, known to the ancients as Edom and Moab-is steeped in biblical history. In this program, archaeologists Fawzi Zayadine, Mohammed Waheeb, and Carmelo Pappalardo attempt to match up biblical events with the terrain where it is said that they occurred. The refuge of Lot, the trail of the Exodus, the place of Jesus' baptism, Moses' vantage point on the summit of Mount Nebo, and early churches of the Madaba region are the focus of their exploration. In addition, Catreena Hamarneh, director of the Madaba Mosaic School, discusses the remarkable Madaba mosaics and their restoration.
2007; 2006

Transjordan Part 2 [electronic resource]: Crusader Castles

Recent research at the 12th-century Frankish castles of Shobak and Kerak in what was called Transjordan provides valuable insights into life and death in the Holy Land during the time period of the Crusades. In this program, historian Cedric Devais, of the French Institute of the Near East-Amman, and history guide Mustapha Kiwan talk about prior archaeological missions to the region, structural aspects of the fortifications, and day-to-day life within those massive stone bastions. In addition, the program addresses the political and economic incentives to waging holy war against the Muslim forces.
2007; 2006

Ethiopia [electronic resource]

Could Ethiopia have been founded by the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba? In this program art historian Gus Casely-Hayford searches for the facts behind the legend by traveling to several important religious sites: Gondar, with its stunning icons; Lalibela, a cluster of 11 churches carved from single blocks of stone; remote Debre Damo monastery; Axum, allegedly home to the Ark of the Covenant; and finally, to a pre-Christian temple where inscriptions in ancient Sabaean - the language spoken by the people of Sheba - provide a tenuous link to the biblical queen. Casely-Hayford also talks with an Eastern Orthodox patriarch and goes to bustling, Muslim Harar as part of the quest to find cultural expressions that link modern Ethiopia to its ancient past.

The First Christianity [electronic resource]

This program brings viewers to exceptional sacred sites throughout the Near East and Asia to trace the first expansion of Christianity from Jerusalem - which was not to Rome with Paul, but to Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Armenia, and Ethiopia. After the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD followers of Jesus fled to Asia Minor, establishing a thriving ecclesiastical community at least 100 years before Constantine made Christianity Rome's official religion. The video highlights the significance of the Syriac Orthodox Church and discusses differences between Eastern and Roman imperial Christianity, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the impact of Islam in Syria. It covers the rule and the rivalries of Constantine, Nestorius, Cyril, and Timothy I; the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon; and a stronghold of [...]

Catholicism [electronic resource]: The Unpredictable Rise of Rome

Rome was once the center of Christian persecution, but the martyrdom there of Paul and Peter began the unfolding of a historical epic that ended with the seat of empire becoming the spiritual capital of the Western Latin church. This program charts the development of Roman Catholicism, traveling to the ancient Port of Ostia, churches in Ravenna, and a remote Celtic monastery to show how Constantine took Christianity from a religion for the downtrodden to a faith aligned with temporal power and wealth. As the Church expanded, key doctrines fell into place: priestly celibacy, confession and penance, purgatory and indulgences, and original sin. The video highlights the accomplishments of Damasus I, Gregory I, and Gregory the Reformer; examines early signs of schism that began with the " [...]

Orthodoxy [electronic resource]: From Empire to Empire

On July 16, 1054, a dramatic event occurred during the worship service in the Church of Hagia Sophia: a papal delegation delivered a document excommunicating the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Patriarch promptly excommunicated the Pope in return. Known as The Great Schism, the act divided Eastern from Western Catholic Christianity. Going on location to the most venerated sites in the Byzantine world, this program presents a history of Eastern Orthodoxy. The video focuses on the tenacity of the Church as it survived Muslim invasions, the destruction by Crusaders of its holy city, the crumbling of the Byzantine Empire, czarist exploitation, and being shut down by the Soviet regime. It also covers the conversion of the Slavs, the use of icons - banned in a desperate reversal of lo [...]

Reformation [electronic resource]: The Individual Before God

The Reformation was a period of rebellion, upheaval, and war - all sparked by one man whose revolt against church authority led to the creation of Protestantism and ultimately, to a reinvigoration of the Catholic faith. This program travels to churches in Europe, Britain, and Mexico to explore the key figures, philosophies, and movements of the Protestant Reformation. It looks at the issues that inflamed Martin Luther, and then Zwigli and John Calvin, as well as the doctrines that divided them, and the many branches of Protestantism that formed as a result. The video also provides an overview of the English Reformation and the English Civil War, the Reconquista, the Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation, the impact of missionaries in Mexico, the sectarian tensions in Bohemia t [...]

Protestantism [electronic resource]: The Evangelical Explosion

Now identified mainly with Fundamentalism, the Evangelical movement that began in 18th-century Britain was an exuberant expression of Protestantism that quickly spread across the globe. What made it so compelling that slaves and slave-owners, the poor and the powerful alike, embraced it in America, Africa, and Asia? This program studies the cultural, theological, and political framework of the Evangelical movement and the branches of Protestantism that it produced. Beginning with the influence of the Moravians, it covers John Wesley's Methodism, Jonathan Edwards and the first two Great Awakenings, the impact of the American Revolution, and the linking of politics, capitalism, and Protestantism in the new nation's ascendency. The video also goes to Africa to examine the establishment [...]

God on Trial [electronic resource]

For more than a millennium Western civilization looked to the Church for answers to questions about life's meaning. But for many, acceptance of ecclesiastical doctrine wasn't enough. This program traces the roots of modern religious skepticism back over 400 years to examine both the unraveling and the endurance of Christian belief. It explores challenges to established theologies in the ideas of Spinoza, Newton, and Voltaire and in the ideals of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Victorian era and considers erosion of faith in the 20th century caused by the impact of World War I and political totalitarianism. The video goes to Auschwitz, the Vatican, and St. Martin-in-the-Fields to consider how the Holocaust, the Second Vatican Council, and late-20th-century social cha [...]

Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire [electronic resource]

Out of the ashes of the Roman Empire rose the Holy Roman Empire, born during Christmas of 800 in the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome. This program covers the antecedents and the life of Charlemagne, shows life at the court, life of the courtiers and of the peasants, recounts the battle of Roncevaux-site of the epic Chanson de Roland-and counterpoints the glories of the Carolingian Renaissance with the everyday realities of hunger, plague, and constant violence. The program concludes with the first of Europe's major confrontations between empire and church, in this instance between Henry IV and Gregory VII.
2005; 1989

Byzantium [electronic resource]: From Splendor to Ruin

This program covers the founding of Constantinople as a second Rome, its flowering when the Roman Empire in the West was shattered, its gradual decline under the impact of Normans, Turks, Venetians, and the Crusades, and finally, its fall in 1453. The program describes the history, art, and religious significance of Byzantium, its attempts to restore the Roman Empire, its influence in the West, and its heritage.
2006; 1989

Christians, Jews, and Moslems in Medieval Spain [electronic resource]

Due partly to the weakness of its Visigothic rulers, partly to its proximity to Africa, the Iberian peninsula was conquered by Berbers and by Arabs belonging to the Ommayad Dynasty of Damascus. This program describes the history of Spain from the time of the first landing in 711, through the nearly 800-year-long war that ended in the expulsion of both Moors and Jews in 1492; the development of a culture whose people spoke various Spanish dialects while the official language was Arabic; the role of the School of Toledo in preserving, translating, and making known the ancient Greek scientific texts as well as Arabic treatises on philosophy and science; the rabbinic center in Toledo; and the history of the Jews in Spain.
2005; 1979