It has come to my attention that Michelle Bachmann has issues with the Renaissance. (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/08/michele-bachmann-is-worried-about-the-renaissance.html) Following the lead of anti-Renaissance, extremist Christian "thinkers" like Francis Schaeffer (in the '70's) and Nancy Pearcy (more recently), Ms. Bachmann is quite verklempt because those evil, secular-humanist (and frequently homosexual) artists led society away from God.
This is really typical of the selective approach that these so-called Christians use when they purport to analyze history. Sure, Michelle, it was Leonardo Di Vinci who moved us out of the good old Dark Ages, it was Michelangelo who put human beings into the equation in place of the God, God, God of the Middle Ages. In a pig's eye, maybe.
These are the most ambitious Reactionaries that could be imagined. Not content to wind back the clock to the Gilded Age of the late Nineteenth Century, they want to go all the way back to the Thirteenth Century.
As a point of reference, bear in mind that the Medieval Period of history was a time of bright-line distinction between the haves and the have-nots. To describe it in modern terms like "income disparity" does it no justice at all, and actually misses the point entirely. In those days, ALL of the income went to the elites of the time, the aristocracy and the church, ALL of it, and the remainder of the people were not merely poor, they were bereft, and virtually enslaved.
The haves were anointed by God Almighty, and were possessed of all of the land and all of its fruits; the have-nots were suffered to live, if, and only if, they worked hard, were limitlessly respectful of the church and the aristocrats, never, ever, complained, and were lucky enough never to be charged with witchcraft by jealous neighbors or aristocrats who coveted their wives. So this is the golden age devoutly to be wished by our right-wing Christian politicians. Where are the real Christians, I wonder, and why do they put up with these people and their weird formulations?
And into this harmonious God-centered world intruded the Renaissance, evidently. Somehow those anti-God artists managed to screw up the whole thing. Those artists, "caught up in the traps of false and harmful world views," as the "Medieval world merged into the Renaissance." Which begs the question: why was the Medieval world moving towards a Renaissance in the first place? The suggestion that the Renaissance was driven by Art is ridiculous. Art is a mirror, not a hammer.
All Medieval Art was religious for a reason: no one else had the money and the inclination to sponsor art. (The aristocrats had the money, but not the inclination.)
Maybe those Christian righties mention it somewhere, or maybe not, but the biggest driver of change during the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries was the Black Death. After that major kick-in-the-ass, and because of it, came an appreciation of the nobility of labor, an age of exploration, and major scientific advances (optics; navigation; the printing press). Along the line came the rise of a merchant class with money to invest in art, and this in turn caused the church to invest even more heavily in art to aggrandize itself, which then drove a Protestant Reformation. Society during the Renaissance was not turning from God, it was waking up from the nightmare of God.
Oh that we could see a similar leap forward today, and wake up from the nightmare of Michelle Bachmann. But since these leaps so often follow catastrophes like the Black Death, maybe I should be more careful what I wish for.