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Jonathan Tracey
Kimberly Lark
History 134
June 22, 2015

Portfolio Reflection
Can you imagine what life would be like today if certain events in past history did not
occur? All events, whether they occurred 20 years ago or 2000 years ago, shaped certain aspects
of our current culture. What if the Axis powers were the victors in WWII? What if the
Confederates had won the United States Civil War? What if events that led to the evolution and
spread of religions in the ancient civilizations did not occur? The faith you practice today is the
result of past religious territorial conquests and stable structural development of different faiths
due to past historical events which transpired. William McNeil writes, But in fact, institutions
that govern a great deal of our everyday behavior took shape hundreds or even thousands of
years ago. Having been preserved and altered across the generations to our own time, they are
sure to continue into the future. The composition of each religion has been altered based on
groups in the ancient worlds. Specific figureheads and leaders during the ancient world were also
critical at an early juncture for the success of their respective religions. A few examples of people
that come to mind are Constantine the Great and the Prophet Muhammad Without their
persistence, Christianity and Islam religions may not have survived to the present day.

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The massive following of the Islamic religion was, in part, due to the teachings of the
Prophet Muhammad who was visited by the archangel Gabriel in which he received his first
revelation. However, initially he was in doubt that he was a messenger of God and if he had
chosen to live in denial and failed to overcome his doubts, a major component of the Islamic
religion, the Quran1, would not exist today. In addition, Muhammad also had faced much ridicule
during his teaching in Mecca in his early life. The people of upper class in Mecca held
resentment towards him because many of the people believed he was trying to pass of his own
ideals and values as a message from God. Others even believed he was possessed by demons.
The strong opposition he faced stopped many people from continuing on following the teachings
of the Islamic religion. Michael Postmas article What Can History Teach Us Today briefly
explains how this past history is relevant today, from a learning perspective. He writes, Finally,
historical narratives offer us stories of humility, courage, wisdom, andmost importanthope.
In essence, history teaches us to move forward, recognize our mistakes and learn from them, and
ultimately create a better existence for all. In my opinion, I believe this strongly represents how
we can learn from the early life of Prophet Muhammad. The struggles he encountered along with
the way he chose to deal with the obstacles, illustrates the benefits of persisting in following
beliefs despite opposition and how it can help us move forward and continue to make progress.
Constantine the Great was not only himself influenced by religion, but also helped the religion of
Christianity gain a large following. The religion in which he was impacted by was Christianity.
During his lifetime, Christianity was a religion of the poor and weak. In addition, there was not a
large following and many people of high authority did not want to be associated with this
1 The Quran literally meaning "the recitation"; is the central religious text of Islam, which
Muslims believe to be a revelation from God.

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religion. However, Constantine the Great placed faith in this religion prior to the Battle of the
Milvian Bridge and he demanded that his troops to paint the Christian symbol on all of their
shields prior to battle. He defeated Maxentius2 and took the throne of Rome. Constantine
attributed his success to incorporating his religious views with military tactics. David M. Perry
writes, We need passionate commitment to both job training and liberal learning, especially
when they seem to clash in opposition, so that we are ready to respond to the unexpected events
that life generates. This statement relates to what Constantine had success in doing, which was
combining his religious education and military background together to achieve victory
Furthermore, after Constantines victory, he declared Christianity to be the official religion of
Rome and helped introduce Christianity to a new group of people.
Blair Hodges writes, An appeal to history can have the result of strengthening ones resolve or it
can result in an awareness of diversity and fragmentation. This statement ties into how a
knowledge in history can help me in the present day. Different groups have different viewpoints
about religion dependent on the development of their culture. Learning about the various
religions of the past allows people the opportunity to be understanding and not one minded. The
result of having an open mind can allow yourself to make your own self-progress and
development. I can act less judgmental and provide myself with more possibilities.
Religion and moral practices have played an important role throughout all of history.
Persecutions, iconoclasm, and religious intolerance has plagued many civilizations. History is the
foundation to become knowledgeable in order to prevent the repeat of many dark moments in
time. Therefore, with an understanding of history, there can be a better future.
2 Maxentius was Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor
Maximian and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.

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Works Cited

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Hodges, Blair. "Hodges- Final Essay, On Rhetorical Uses of History to Understand the Present."
Hodges- Final Essay, On Rhetorical Uses of History to Understand the Present. Web. 22
June 2015.
McNeill, William. "Why Study History? (1985)." Why Study History? (1985). Web. 22 June
2015.
Perry, David. "How History Can Help Us Predict the Next Pope." The Atlantic. Atlantic
Media Company, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 June 2015.
Postma, Michael. "What Can History Teach Us Today?" ASCD Express 6.22. Web. 22 June
2015.