Events and Zeitgeists (German for spirit of the times) don’t fall neatly into centuries. We speak of the 19th century as a time of optimism. But that time really began in 1814. We remember the twentieth century for its two World Wars and the Cold War. But peace prevailed until 1914.
The Congress of Vienna in 1814 marked the end of 25 years of Napoleonic wars and redrew the map of Europe in a way that avoided major wars for a hundred years. (Henry Kissinger wrote his doctoral thesis on this.) It was this event that grounded the optimism of the 19th century.
This all unraveled with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914.
So here we are in 2014. Ukraine. Syria. Iraq. One wonders what this might be the beginning of.
P.S. Any extra-ordinary duties I have in my church should end in July. I am getting ready to take a trip now. So I am planning to wait until July to take on a new reading and blogging project.