In the past decade, there has been a spate of books with titles of the year, their authors believe, was seminal in national or world history. Perhaps, their attention to the significance of dates is in response to the trend in the 1970s to de-emphasize dates in studying the events of the past. On book, April 1865, even goes so far as to define one particular month as significant. Other important years become books include 1066*, 1421, 1434, 1453, 1776 and 1948**.
Last year, Charles Freeman came along with A.D. 381, suggesting that events of that year led to the dawn of the Dark Ages. And while Freeman makes a strong case that Roman Emperor Theodosius’ decree defining Christian orthodoxy and so ending a spirited debate on divinity and the trinity, he spends fare more time discussing events in previous years (and subsequent ones) to convince that 381 was indeed as seminal as he claims.
That said, he distills a lot of information to make an important point about the end of debate and the decline (and eventual collapse) of the Roman Empire:
The tragedy of Thoedosius’ (sic) imposition and its aftermath lay in the elimination of discussion, not only of spiritual matters but across the whole spectrum of human knowledge. ‘Pagan’ thinkers shared with many Christians a belief that freedom of debate was an essential part of a healthy society. The Nicene debates themselves show that intellectual progress was being made, because the participants were continually revising their positions in response to each other. From 381 onwards, Theodosius and his successors eliminated the tradition of free speech. By deriding the opponents of Nicaea as ‘demented heretics’ and threatening them with the weight of the law and eternal punishment, they destroyed the possibilities of continuing debate.”
Deriding opponents? Hmm. . . . . where else do we see that going on? Eliminating discussion, you know like that leader telling us “the time for talk is through,” that Democrat who told us that he doesn’t want certain folks doing a lot of talking.
Like those Romans who brought us the Dark Ages, Obama and his Democrats have derided their opponents so as to discredit their opinions and speak longingly of silencing us as well. Let’s hope they don’t succeed, lest history repeat itself.
*There are multiple books abut the tragic events of that year which led to the destruction of the language of Beowulf.
**Another year with multiple books.