Why the 16th Century Matters

How We Got in this Mess

Historians label the 16th century  “Early Modern.”  As the world was convulsed by war, plague, and natural disasters, science rose up and religion fragmented.  Here came a critical turning point for man’s view of himself and his place in the universe.  Here lies the genesis of our modern skeptical worldview, the loss of innocence.  How familiar is the following:

Jacob Fugger and bookkeeper, Matthaus Schwartz, by Schwartz 1516. The filing cabinet shows the locations of Fugger’s branch offices: Rome, Lisbon, Budapest, etc.

As the economy becomes increasingly global, a voracious consumerism concentrates wealth in the hands of international companies.

As bankers and corporate leaders grow wealthier and the poor grow poorer, widespread protests and armed revolts rip through many countries.


Scientists make discoveries in every field.

New ideas go viral and sweep the world through new technologies.

As the religious right seeks to hold control, free thinkers are calling for the separation of church and state.

Corruption within the Christian church and scientific advances lead to widespread disillusionment with religion.

Battle of Chaldiran

The conflict between the Sunni and Shi’ite       Moslems leads to political intrigues involving Christian rulers.

Moslems gain power, and the Christian world is frightened.

There are widespread sightings of strange flying objects.

There is constant fear of pandemics and the belief that hostile groups can introduce poisons to wipe out whole cities.

Some men struggle to achieve meaning for life through artistic endeavors or scientific exploration.

While others believe that the end of the world is near.

The 16th century, distant yet familiar, historical yet immediate.  

Published on July 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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