Monday, June 02, 2008

A time for everything

This Library Time Line traces the development of libraries from early times to the present day. It is not insignificant that Christendom played a prominent role in this development and the spread of literacy which accompanied it, with monastic libraries and the development of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg. The Bible was one of the first texts he produced on his invention, but he also branched out into printing Papal indulgences, but we won't hold that against him.

In the Middle Ages, Christians were among those responsible for founding some universities throughout Europe, which included libraries. On the other hand, often those who supported libraries had no religious convictions to speak of. Their motivations were humanitarian or philanthropic. Such was the case with Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), an avowed agnostic. Carnegie used his considerable personal fortune to establish thousands of public libraries throughout the United States and other parts of the world. Carnegie may not have been religious, but we can discern the prevenient grace of God in his philanthropic activities and as a wealthy man, the sense of obligation he felt to contribute towards the betterment of society.

2 comments:

Glen O'Brien said...

The first universities in Europe (founded in the medieval period) were of course ALL built by Christians.

Ross McPhee said...

I should have remembered that from your Church History class. Right, Glen?