This is one of those biographies that I got at the scary Christian bookstore. I went in looking for a particular book on Saint Francis and picked up a bunch of things, including this. I had only a vague idea of who Calvin was and why he was important. Having read this, however, I now understand what the Reformation was, what it means to be a Dutch Reformed Church (for example). I also understand that this started out as a revolutionary movement - teaching everyone to read? Unthinkable. This was the first step at taking power away from the church and the priests and giving it to the people. The idea was that everyone (which really meant all European men, but I'm feeling forgiving today) should be able to read the Christian Bible (and that they should do it everyday, but that's not really important), which enabled people to begin to interpret passages for themselves and, more importantly, to question the interpretation and the doctrine of the Church. Is anyone surprised that people wanted him executed?
I disagree with a large amount of what Calvin believed and don't really care very much about what he did. Except for two things: he was instrumental in the first steps of bringing literacy to the masses and as a result should be considered instrumental in bringing the ability and power to think critically to the masses as well. If only everyone made use of the opportunities he brought to us.