Sunday, 25 January 2009
Poor interpretation by Beckford
Theologian Dr Robert Beckford has just given a most slanted explanation of the 'triumph' of Christianity in Britain in the Dark Ages in Channel 4's Christianity a History.
Britain did not exist as a 'country' in the period 450- 800, therefore Dr Beckford is falling into the classic failing of the Academic with a bias, in this case Christianity and multicultural society, mediating the 'Dark Ages' through the prism of a 21st Century political viewpoint.
Three points that he did put over though I am not sure he understood what he was saying.
One- The introduction of Christianity was top down, through the conversion of Kings eager to align themselves with continental pawers. Christianity had very little effect on the culture of the Anglo Saxons. Indeed Raedwald whose burial mound was excavated at Sutton Hoo in 1939, had both Pagan and Christian artifacts in it.
Two- The Augustine conversion was largely a failure and ended after only twenty years, it was only when the rites and beliefs of the people were incorporated into Christianity did Christianity gain a foothold, but again it was closely aligned with the monarchs, providing 'services' such as written records and corrspondence. Christianity had little effect on the warrior society.
Three- After Whitby the Catholic Church sought to suppress the Celtic Church with its mysticism inherited from the Coptic Church.
I grew tired of the message and gave up after half an hour irritated by bland 21st century political statements on the beliefs of our society 1700 years ago.
Also very irritated when Anglo-Saxon society was described as barbaric.