Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 24, 2011

History – Reading From Right to Left

A people's history of the United States - Howa...

Image by Steve Bowbrick via Flickr

Here I go (below), stealing from Father Richard again.

But first: if you are still curious about the kind of thinking below (i.e. “the rich wrote our histories”), another good secular perspective can be found in Howard Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States. My buddy Drew moved recently and was thinning his book collection, so I got to snag his copy. Score!

Also, I didn’t see it yet, but Matt Damon and others were involved in a documentary series a couple years back, based on Zinn’s book.

Finally, as the Arab Spring continues worldwide –and especially in Libya this week– I find myself wondering: who are the shakers and movers in those nations now? And are they compassionate, or just the new and corrupt bosses… same as the old bosses? (Thanks, Mr. Townshend!)

Let love win…


The terms “right” and “left” came from the Estates Generalin France. It’s interesting that now we use them as our basic political terms. On the left sat the ordinary people, on the right sat the nobility and the clergy! (What were the clergy doing over there?!) I think you see the pattern.In history you will have these two movements, because we didn’t have the phenomenon of the middle class until very recently. The vast majority of people have been poor, even in Jesus’ time. The people who wrote the books and controlled the institutions, however, have almost always been on the right. Much of history has been read and interpreted from the side of the “winners,” or the right, except for the unique revelation called the Bible, which is an alternative history from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, leading up to the totally scapegoated Jesus.

Adapted from CAC Foundation Set: Gospel Call to Compassionate Action
(Bias from the Bottom) and Contemplative Prayer
(available on CDDVDMP3)


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