This week, the History Channel will be running a new documentary, the Dark Ages.
It sounds good, and I look forward to watching it. But in the ads that are running across the dial...I guess it would be a digital signal in this day and age.
In the ads they go for humor, drama, and pathos.
Okay. And in most of the ads they end by throwing out a series of descriptors.
Among the descriptors...GODLESS. Godless!
The Dark Ages were godless? Really. Calling it inhuman...okay, but people seemed very human to me, but I see what you are going for with that word.
Let us look at history for a moment
The Dark Ages - 476 AD to 1000 AD
St. Patrick goes to Ireland - and through the age many more saints would crop up with deeds - 433 AD
Pope in ascendancy - Pope Leo I meets Attila the Hun and gets him to turn back from sacking Rome. This act sets the pope before other Christian leaders, and guarantees the positions supremacy in the Catholic
Church. - 452 AD
Pope Gregory begins - will ally with the Franks cementing Christian support in Central Europe - 590 AD
Islam birthed by Muhammad - 610 AD
Muslim conquest of Egypt begins - a long struggle between Christians and Muslims - 639 AD
Islam faces its big split - 680 AD
Moors enter Spain - 710 AD
Battle of Tours - King Charles Martel battles and beats back Moorish forces, preserving his Christian vision for his expanding realm - 732 AD
Beginning of the Islamic Golden Age - many of the great and historic mosques across Europe and Asia pop us - 750 AD
Charlemagne is crowned Imperator Romanum gubernans Imperium by the pope - 800 AD
The point is this, Christianity was not invisible, in a cave (just some of the saints), silent, or uninvolved. The Church was active.
There is plenty to praise, in preserving a lot of knowledge, and many historic documents. It also destroyed many it didn't like. It gave some order, but it feed on the communities around them. They were lords of the land.
So a godless Dark Ages? What about the pagan beliefs? The ones Patrick and others were seeking to displace. How about the Persians? How about Islam? This period is a major and critical time in Islam and its expansion. And I am not even bringing up the broader world view which would have to consider the Mayans, Chinese, Japanese, etc.
What the big deal was to historians looking back was Christianity, and its limited reach, within a pair of dying empires. An uncertain time, for Christianity. These were centuries of missionaries, of king's buying in and often taken to it with a zeal, and it was a time of the Church building up and fine tuning it's great machine...in the Middle Ages and Renaissance we can still see it roaring away and charging about. In these centuries its very foundations were firmly rooted (leaders, roles, and HQ's).
Over these 500 years we see the move from missionaries sailing over to chat in Ireland to a mighty king, in his jewel crown leading a large army for Christ. Pagans were driven back, converted, forced to convert, or really driven back. Islam was pushed back more and more. And Jews just tried really hard to keep their heads down. And Europe was made.
Any European, and any of the rare Americans aware of European history, can tell you just how smooth the sailing was in Europe once Christianity had stomped out and driven out the competition...And no one fought, argued, or had hurt feelings again.
So we are looking at a Christian view. The important thing to me is being honest. And without the church preserving various works, forces unifying, the driving back of Islam, the strangling of paganism, it would be a very different world. That is just true. If things went a different way, the world would be something else. Same with the events of the Battle of Salamis, the events of D-Day, and so on.
It is just funny to me. We say godless here. And we can all agree that is about Jesus. Talk about the use of God in reference to Americana, it is some wild wide ranging term. Sure. The mental compromises people make to keep the peace.
Godless? Go back to the dictionary and pick again.
At least they aren't rerunning the UFO marathon.