Lands of Hope and Promise

The following is the opening chapter of CTP’s new book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America.

Chapter 1                     
Explorers and Conquistadors

The Genovese Mariner
he year 1492 was a turning point for Spain. In January of that year, Isabel and Fernando, los Reyes Católicos (the “Catholic Monarchs”) of Castile and Aragon, concluded a 700-year war by conquering the Moorish kingdom of Granada, the last stronghold of the Muslims in Spain. This 700-year war, or rather series of wars, had been a crusade for Spain, a holy war to retake lands lost to the Muslims in the eighth century. Yet, with the close of this war, the Spanish monarchs found themselves faced with a new and perhaps more arduous task — the conquest of a hitherto unknown world.
File:Columbus Letter (Basel 1493) Illustration 2.jpg                Even the strange sea captain, who for seven long years had been belaboring the Spanish monarchs to allow him to pursue this quest, did not understand the nature of it. This tall, long-faced mariner with the gray, dreaming eyes – this Cristóbal Colón from the Italian seafaring city of Genoa – had labored, until his red hair had turned white, to convince the monarchs that by sailing west one could reach the East – the fabled lands of China, Cipangu (Japan), and India.
                Colón, better known to us as Christopher Columbus, was the son of a wool weaver. Born in 1451 in the seafaring city Genoa, he went to sea in his youth. In his early twenties, he joined an expedition against the Barbary corsairs and another to the Greek island of Chios (then under Genoese control) to defend Genoa’s interests there against the Turks. In 1476, he sailed with a fleet of Genoese trading ships that was bound for Lisbon, England, and Flanders. Off the southern coast of Portugal, enemy ships attacked the fleet, and Columbus was wounded. When his ship went down, he jumped into the sea, and grabbing hold of a sweep, swam the six or so miles to shore. In the Portuguese city of Lagos he found help for his wounds. When he recovered, he made his way to Lisbon, a port city and the capital of Portugal.

Continue reading this chapter here.

Purchase the e-book here.

Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America

Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America
This volume presents the history of North America from the landing of Columbus in 1492 to the late 20th century. It tells the story of the French, the Spanish, Dutch, Russian, and English settlements, and of the native peoples and cultures with which they interacted and came in conflict. It continues the story of the European settlement, focusing on the United States as the representative of Anglo-American culture and Mexico as the representative of Latin American culture. Though Lands of Hope and Promise tells the secular history found in standard textbooks, it includes the contributions of the Catholic Church, Catholic communities, and individual Catholics – along with Catholic ideas – to this rich and tempestuous story. And it tells this history as a story, with all the color and drama that belongs to it. End of chapter reviews and other material highlight dates and events, characters in history, and definitions of key terms.
Grade range: high school
Purchase at the CTP website.

Our New History Book!

Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America (Textbook)
We are excited to announce the publication of a another book: Lands of Hope & Promise: A History of North America. Lands of Hope & Promise is our history of Anglo and Latin America for the high school student in e-book format. This newest addition to our history series continues our aspiration of providing accurate, engaging and vibrantly told history to Catholic students. The growing popularity of our history books among Catholic schools and homeschooling parents testifies to the superiority of these books to any now on the market. Teachers know they can trust the content to be factual  and authentic, and the design to be attractive and of high quality. Above all, they know the story of civilization will be told in light of the universal truth of the Catholic faith.

The author of Lands of Hope & Promise is Christopher Zehnder, who also wrote the highly-praised Sea to Shining Sea. Mr. Zehnder gives his reason for choosing the title of his new work:
As Catholics, believers in Christ, the Lord of History, we are called to participate in the story of the world, to help realize in whatever way we can the great purpose of God in the incarnation of his Son – the restoration of all things in Christ. We have called this volume Lands of Hope and Promise because North America – and not just North America, but all the world – has been purchased by the blood of Christ in the hope that it might be renewed with him in his resurrection. He who commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matt. 28:19-20) beckons his modern disciples to apply the teachings of Christ and his Church to the struggles and sufferings, hopes and aspirations, of the peoples and societies in which they live. And though all may seem quite dark, we have the assurance that the light of Christ shines in the darkness. And where the light of Christ shines, there indeed is hope. There, indeed, is promise.
Lands of  Hope & Promise is currently only available in e-book format. Go to the CTP website to purchase.

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More Free Classical Education Downloads

CTP President
Michael Van Hecke
Catholic Textbook Project President, Michael Van Hecke and ICLE Director Dr. Andrew Seeley spoke in Philadelphia on The Blessings of a Catholic Classical Education. Listen to the 45-minute talk with 60-minute Q & A here.
Dr. Andrew Seeley

Professor Seeley gave advice to the parents of St. John Bosco School in Rochester, NY on how they as the primary educators can foster their children’s classical education. Listen to The Role of Parents in Classical Education here.

The Myth of Private Religion

While reading Professor Stephen Turley’s essay Classical Christian Education and Public Witness,  two of his assertions struck me as familiar:

Consequently, there emerged a whole new definition of religion: religion was no longer a public expression of cosmic piety and social obligation. Instead, religion was simply something that one personally believed but could not know; it was that by which one cultivated a sense of private meaning and existential satisfaction, but religion had no public, that is objective, value at all.

… it is here that secularism plays a key role, for it is through secularization that the state is able to perpetuate and protect its monopolization over the public square. And the primary mechanism by which such monopolization is maintained is the redefinition of religion and the consequent marginalization of the church to the private sphere of life. The state effectively marginalizes the church (or any other competing vision of the public) by re-inventing our conception of faith and religion in accordance with secular norms: faith and religion are little more than instrumental means by which individuals find personal meaning and purpose for their lives.

 These two passages echoed what I had read recently in Frank Sheed‘s classic Theology for Beginners. Commenting on the widespread modern tendency to treat God as “extra” to life, he writes:

Religion, it is felt, is something that some people go in for; it might be better for ourselves if we all did a little more of it; but it has no place in the practical business of man’s life…What a man believes about God is his private affair: in other words it does not affect anyone but the man himself, and it does not affect him in a way that matters to anyone else.
This is a very remarkable statement indeed. All history echoes with denial. What men have believed about God has caused more wars and fiercer wars than any other thing whatever. Rivers of blood have flowed because of what men believed about God. And now, suddenly, it has become their own private affair. Obviously this can only mean that men do not believe anything very intensely about God, or, if they do, are not likely to do anything very extreme about it.
Hillaire Belloc
Aztec human sacrifice
Reiterating this thought, the Catholic author Hilaire Belloc wrote, “Every major question in history is a religious question. It has more effect in molding life than nationalism or a common language.” The Aztec religious practice of human sacrifice could hardly be dismissed as their own private affair. It definitely had an effect on the chosen ones and their families and shaped Aztec culture. Religion is how a man views the world, his philosophy of life, how he answers the great questions of life.If and why humans believe in the dignity of the human person determines all actions towards one another and molds human society. “Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the universe” and.”a state, a human policy, or a general culture, must be inspired by some body of morals, and there can be no body of morals without doctrine…” (Belloc, The Great Heresies}. Contrary to the Beatles song, a world without religion cannot be imagined. Belief is very much not a private affair and, because it is of necessity public, error about belief will have a negative public effect. Frank Sheed continues:
Supposing a man refuses to believe in the existence of the sun. He will of course be ready with a theory to account for the widely held view that the sun does exist. He will say perhaps that the sun is a collective hallucination, or a large fire just fifty miles up in the air, or a result of wishful thinking, or a visual effect produced by spots on the liver, or a relic of tribal superstition, or a piece of sexual symbolism, or a purely mental compensation for an unjust economic system. However ingenious his theory or however excellent his character and intention, he would be wrong about day and night, about the seasons, about the moon, the stars, the weather – he would be in danger of death by sunstroke. So far it might well be his own private affair. But if he persuaded large numbers of people that the sun did not exist, his private error would be in a fair way to becoming a public nuisance; and if he were the captain of a ship, passengers’ lives would not be safe with him: he could not be trusted to get them across the ocean. You could not discuss astronomy with such a man because, however much a man may be entitled to his own opinion, the sun remains a fact, and a fact essential to astronomy and navigation. Similarly, you cannot discuss the purpose of life with a man who denies the existence of God. You cannot profoundly collaborate in human affairs, in sociology, say, or education with a man who denies the existence of God. You cannot simply agree to omit God from the collaboration for the sake of argument, any more than you could agree to omit the sun from navigation. The sun is a fact and essential to navigation. God is a fact and essential to everything.
To me, this is one of strongest reasons for why the Catholic Textbook Project exists — to tell the story of history with God and religion, not as extra, but as essential. To ignore their significance to humanity is a distortion of history, of reality, which can only lead to a diminished life for everyone.
O all ye works of the Lord bless ye the Lord
Artwork by Ade Bethune from the Ade Bethune Collection, St. Catherine University Library, St. Paul, MN 55105