Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More on the "Dark" Ages

Further to my post on St Columba and the ensuing comments, if you haven’t already watched it, you might find this programme, which appeared on Channel 4 a couple of weeks ago, interesting.

In it the theologian Robert Beckford explores how the pagan tribes in Britain became one nation under the single religion of Christianity. He deals with the survival and flowering of Christianity in Ireland and the Celtic North and West and the “battle” between the three different religious traditions: paganism, Celtic Christianity and the Roman Christianity which arrived with St Augustine in 597.

The full programme can be watched again here.


Ciarán said...

Thanks for the pointer O'Neill. I'll have a look later. I'm nearly finished Bartlett's interesting, if difficult, The Making of Europe, which goes through the emergence of the idea of Europe and the common legal and social conventions of an imagined European civilisation during the Norman (and Germanic) expansions that took place from the 10th Century.

One of the interesting things Bartlett points to is that the Norman encroachment in Ireland, just as was the case with Spain, Palestine and the Baltic, was articulated as a Christian Crusade. Of course the other parts of Europe were Muslim or pagan, but the Irish were held by the Normans to have such strange rituals that, although they claimed to be Christian and loyal to Rome, they were in fact not Christians and were thus available for imperial expansion.

O'Neill said...

I've really only skirted the topic, but the interesting and curious aspect was the antipathy between the two Christian "schools" which Beckford highlighted- the closest paralllel today would be that existing between the shia and sunni branches of Islam. And on a purely parochial level it's also bizarre that there is an element within NI evangelicalism (eg Paisley, who gave an impressive speech at the opening of the St Columba exhibition) believe there is a direct unbroken connection between the early Celtic church and themselves!