Friday, April 09, 2010

“Let Us All Have One Law and One Religion”

The Vikings, by Robert FergusonI’m most of the way through a history book called The Vikings, by Robert Ferguson. Reading it is taking me a long time, because I don’t have many spare moments for such luxuries, and a book like this one demands close scrutiny — including the maps and the end notes. It’s a library book, and I’ve already renewed it once. My time ran out, so I’m now paying a dime a day for the privilege of finishing it. But it’s worth it.

The book is a riveting account of the entire Viking Age, from the earliest historical and archeological evidence, through the conversion to Christianity and the merging of various Viking lands with the general culture of Northern Europe. It describes the marauders of the North Sea, the sporadic wars with the Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires, the occupation of the Danelaw in England, the foundation of what became the major cities of Ireland, the repeated attacks on the Franks that eventually resulted the creation of Normandy, the formation of the Kingdom of the Rus in Kiev, and the attacks on Moorish Iberia.

The Vikings were dedicated traders and explorers who braved the most fearsome conditions in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans to colonize the Orkneys, the Shetlands, the Faeroes, Iceland, Greenland, and (briefly) Newfoundland. Between 700 and 1100 AD their longships raided and traded from the Black Sea to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, from the White Sea to the Straits of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean.

The story of Iceland is the most fascinating one of all. The island nudges up against the Arctic Circle, and was uninhabited until it was colonized by Norwegian Vikings in the 9th century. The settlers in Iceland evolved the first functioning democracy in Europe since ancient times, and governed themselves without a king or a hierarchy.

In 999 AD Olaf Tryggvason, the king of Norway who had just converted the remaining Norse heathens to Christianity by force, sent a mission to Iceland in an a attempt to convert the Icelanders. It wasn’t the first time such an effort had been made, and there was a Christian minority on the island, but 999 was the year when the Icelanders collectively turned to Christianity.

Olaf’s delegation arrived at the althing — the annual island-wide assembly at the Law Rock in Thingvellir — in June 999 to present their case for the establishment of a legally-based Christian community in Iceland. Thorgeir Ljosvetninggagodi was the elected Lawspeaker, and it fell to him to adjudicate the momentous decision. As Dr. Ferguson writes, “Thorgeir was being asked to set up a separate law code that would have required a separate assembly with its own, Christian, hallowing rituals, so that two communities of faith could carry on separate but parallel lives.”

Sound familiar?

After retiring to his shelter for a full twenty-four hours to consult with Odin and/or his own native wisdom, Thorgeir made his decision:
- - - - - - - - -
…the decisive factor was unity. Whether the words he spoke were his own, or were dictated to him by Odin, there is no mistaking that this is what Thorgeir saw as the heart of what he had to say about the prospect of Iceland being divided along religious and legal lines: ‘let us all have one law and one religion. For this will turn out to be true, that if we rend asunder the laws we shall also rend the peace.’ From its beginnings in the 870s, Icelandic society, with its Heathens, its handful of Christians, its smattering of godless men who trusted only in their own might and main, and its syncretic gamblers who were happy enough to take out extra insurance against a bad harvest by adding Christ to their personal pantheon, had been what we would today call a pluralistic and multi-faith society. But when crisis threatened in 999 there was no doubt at all in the Lawspeaker’s mind: everyone should believe in the same god, or at least pretend to do so. [p. 314]

Yesterday, when I first read the words “if we rend asunder the laws we shall also rend the peace”, the hairs rose on the back of my neck. This man, a heathen barbarian from a remote frigid outpost of Nordic colonization, possessed more wisdom than all the suave and civilzed intellectuals and politicians in 21st-century Europe.

If we rend asunder the laws we shall also rend the peace.

The peoples of Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany are already living out the inevitable results of what Thorgeir intuitively understood. Both the law and the peace of Europe have been rent asunder.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not nostalgic for Nordic paganism. I don’t advocate for Asatru. The pre-Christian faith in Northern Europe either permitted or recommended practices — such as slavery, infanticide, and human sacrifice — that lie outside any moral norm I could ever assent to. Some of the annals describing the momentous events at Thingvellir in June 999 record that the heathen faction sacrificed two human victims to the gods in hopes of steering Thorgeir towards the right decision.

As Benno Barnard has pointed out, the moral and ethical structures we take for granted are a legacy of Christianity. Whether by force or by persuasion, they were grafted onto the native pagan substrate that preceded them, and produced a vibrant cultural hybrid that evolved into the marvel of modern European civilization. I, for one, have no desire to return to what went before.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the accumulated wisdom of all the centuries that preceded Christianity in Northern Europe. Those heathen Icelanders at the althing were onto something.

What do you think they would have said about sharia?

43 comments:

Robin Shadowes said...

I would rather have preferred we had stayed heathen than adopting that damn mid-east religion. There simply is no good coming out of that region what so ever. What is a couple of sacrifices now and then compared to the wholesale slaughterhouse of dar al-islam anyway? Besides, who knows, there is no way of telling if we would still be sacrificing now thousand years later. For all I know there could have been an asa-tru reformation in the 16th century as well. My point is, we in the nordic regions would probably have been better off if those darned ME religions never got up here in the first place. To be honest I really hate organized religions with a passion. But still, I prefer asa-tru to the three ME religions though.

Zenster said...

What do you think they would have said about sharia?

Not much. Their swords would have done the talking for them.

I will venture that be it from a position of Viking strength or even vulnerability−as in capitulated WWII Denmark−there is a fundamental appeal to reason that has informed much of Scandinavian history and provided the substrate for an altogether remarkable culture.

The recent perversion of it by Swedish ultra-feminists makes its betrayal all the more repulsive in that few other regions sought to empower women with such resolve.

More telling is that, despite these setbacks, Denmark remains a beacon of resistance to shari'a and Muslim colonization. It will be a long, long time before the vitality of Viking blood can be stilled in Danish veins.

Remember, we're talking about warriors who-after landing on a foreign shore−would promptly burn their boats as a motivational incentive to prevail over their opponents.

That sort of determination lingers on in the Danish genetic structure and it will take more than some lamb-eating sand loving barbarians to overcome such deeply set Viking roots.

kritisk_borger said...

I think this will be yet another pro-Christian/anti-Christian discussion, which is sad as it takes away the focus from what’s really important, and that is to find ways to reverse Islamic influence in the West. And it’s not just religious barriers Christians/atheists which are causing this rift, it’s also political barriers. You don’t have to be a right-winger to be anti-Islam and anti-sharia. There are millions of people in Europe whose political views would be labelled leftist, who are really concerned about the Islamic rise in Europe, and who would like nothing more than to see this trend reversed. A radical leftist is quite different from an ordinary voter who votes for a left leaning party.

I would also like to see a change in the anti-Islamic battle in Europe and America, where more focus is given to ways in which ordinary citizens can oppose the Islamists in their everyday life rather than constantly focusing on how awful and evil the Islamists are and not really coming up with any meaningful ways to oppose them. I think most people by now know that Islamists are evil.

As with regards to Denmark, I don’t believe the average Dane, Swede and Norwegian are that different, and believe me I have met countless Danes and Swedes. We pretty much speak the same language and we share the same values and morals. The only difference with Denmark is that an anti-Islamic political party has actually managed to get some real political influence. Twenty two percent of Norwegian voters voted for the Frp (progress Party) but what good does that do when the party hasn’t got any real political influence?

mace said...

Robin Shadowes,

Yes, I agree,pagans,were generally tolerant of other religions.The number of people sacrificed to pagan gods was negligible compared to the numbers slaughtered by Christians or Moslems in the name of their gods.

"What does it matter by which wisdom each of us arrives at the Truth? It is not possible that only one road leads to so sublime a mystery" --the words of

Quintus Symmachus,pagan Roman Senator protesting at the increasing intolerance of Christians,who,of course, knew theirs was the only way to the Truth.


I'm not convinced that the moral and ethical structures we take for granted are the legacy of Christianity,we owe much more to Classical civilization and the Enlightenement.The long struggle against superstition and Christian theocracy is explained in 'Towards the Light' by A.C. Grayling.

Gary Rumain said...

Mace,

The pagan Romans used to feed Christians to the lions. Was that an example of their tolerance?

Gary Rumain said...

Does this book mention the pre-Christian Vikings' involvement in the islamic slave trade?

Dublin, for example, was set up by the Vikings for the express purpose of harvesting slaves from Ireland and selling them at the Moorish slave markets.

Dymphna said...

@ mace:

I'm not convinced that the moral and ethical structures we take for granted are the legacy of Christianity,we owe much more to Classical civilization and the Enlightenement...

Classical civilization? The Greeks, starting with the pre-socratics, perhaps? How about Socrates' dose of hemlock for going against the speech rules?

And then you seem to jump across millenia to the Enlightenment to find the next ideas congenial to your way of thinking.

Well, in your lack of being convinced, by all means pick one from Column A and one from Column B. It certainly makes for an interesting, if somewhat spotty collection.

Here's an idea: how about we look at the history of man across untold millenia as one generation or cultural group standing on the shoulders of the next, with elaborations and collaborations that incrementally enriched our communities?

How about a generosity of spirit toward those ideas with which you disagree? If nothing else, those ideas had moral force across a wide swath of history and for this reason alone ought to merit more than a dismissively negative comment without any context.

============

Mr. Shadowes:

Your comments never seem to vary. You hate ME religions? Who would've known?

Do you ever smile, sir? Do you enjoy anything besides your hatreds? I'm asking this in all honesty, because those are the only things I've ever seen you express. Admittedly, I don't get to read all the comments so perhaps I missed one of your cheery missives.

You don't like Muslims: we get that. We really truly understand that Mr. Shadowes does not like Muslims.

The difference of opinion between you and the admin of Gates of Vienna is that we don't like Islam. There is a big difference between them and that difference will continue to be elaborated here.

You will never be happy with our point of view so I'm puzzled as to why you're often first up at bat in a place you don't like.

EscapeVelocity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EscapeVelocity said...

I'm not convinced that the moral and ethical structures we take for granted are the legacy of Christianity,we owe much more to Classical civilization and the Enlightenement.The long struggle against superstition and Christian theocracy is explained in 'Towards the Light' by A.C. Grayling. -- mace

Mace there is no doubt Roman and Greek heritage that was adopted and transmitted through Christianity and the powerhouse of the Catholic Church (as well as Jewish).

But you and Grayling are attempting to exclude the Christian contributions. Its downright ugly, to tell you the truth.

Christians dont deny the Enlightenment or the Roman and Classical influences, hell they adopted the Roman and Greek influences and the Enlightenment is their creation, for Pete's sake.

---

Here is an interesting article by Theodore Dalrymple...


Autumn 2007

What the New Atheists Don’t See

by Theodore Dalrymple

To regret religion is to regret Western civilization.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_4_oh_to_be.html


----

Also this...

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

THOMAS E. WOODS, JR.

From the role of the monks to art and architecture, from the university to Western law, from science to charitable work, from international law to economics, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization delves into just how indebted we are as a civilization to the Catholic Church, whether we realize it or not.

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0101.html

Papa Whiskey said...

Those interested in Viking lore may care to peruse William R. Short's "Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques." Picked up this tome at the Renaissance Fair last month and have learned some ways to wield my battle axe.

Jewel said...

This is an interesting topic. But then, most all of the things you post are truly unique. I am also reading a book about the pagans.
Paul Among the People: The Apostle reinterpreted and reimagined in his own time. By Sarah Ruden.

The practices of the Greeks and Romans during the time of Christ and Paul are appalling. I am beginning to really appreciate the Judeo-Christian heritage into which I was born.

mace said...

@Gary Rumain,

The Romans fed Christians to the lions,and the Vikings were involved in the slave trade,so were Christians until the 19th century,so what? There is much that is repugnant about Roman civilization,I'm not an uncritical admirer.The point I made concerned relative numbers of people persecuted for their faith.Actually, whether or not Christians were persecuted for their beliefs is open to dispute.Christians refused to acknowledge the Emperor's divinity,this made them political criminals. I'll give you a virtual dollar for every Christian martyred by pagans and you can give me a dollar for every pagan,Jew,Moslem, heretic and scientist(starting with Hypatia) martyred by Christians.

@Dymphna,

You were talking about context,well,Socrates' trial should be taken in the context of Athens remarkable experiment in democracy.Dissenters like Socrates would have had a longer life expectancy in Classical Athens than in Christian Europe until the 19th century. I'm not ignorant of Christian teaching,I attended a Presbyterian high school,however it's important to distinguish a religious philosophy from its institutional framework,Communism was initially a humane doctrine,look what happened.
I think you're being somewhat unfair by criticizing my lack of generosity of spirit,I was simply expressing my opinions and unlike some people I don't use ad hom. arguments. My context was Grayling's book(my typing skills are limited and there's no point in posting extracts here).I think it's an excellent summary.

@Escape Velocity,

I'm not trying to exclude the contributions of individual Christians,albeit often made like Galileo's in the face of Church opposition.Christians also
destroyed or ignored those works that seemed heretical or 'pagan'(see "The Eureka Man" by Alan Hirshfeld)so what remains of Classical learning is what the Church thought was compatible with its teaching,that's hardly a cause for praise.

EscapeVelocity said...

@mace

You are all over the place. So I think that we have to establish what it is you are actually trying to say, what your assertion is, before I can engage with it.

heroyalwhyness said...

The Baron asked: "What do you think they would have said about sharia?

The answer to that question was evident to me from the following descriptive from your reading:

It describes the marauders of the North Sea, the sporadic wars with the Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires, the occupation of the Danelaw in England, the foundation of what became the major cities of Ireland, the repeated attacks on the Franks that eventually resulted the creation of Normandy, the formation of the Kingdom of the Rus in Kiev, and the attacks on Moorish Iberia.


From that statement alone, it appears they had zero tolerance for sharia.

mace said...

@Escape Velocity,

No,I'm not.My assertion is that the Christians only preserved those aspects of pagan civilization that were compatible with their doctrines and ignored or destroyed anything else. This is standard procedure for theocracies,rather like the Islamic theocracies today.

The statement that the Enlightenment is a product of nominal 'Christians' is true,however,if they had been true believers the Enlightenment could not have occurred. I suggest you consult some sources that aren't from the Catholic Church. The Church was reformed from the outside,this process is still going on-have you noticed lately? The narcissism of the Church hierarchy is breathtaking.

Baron Bodissey said...

Gary Rumain --

Does this book mention the pre-Christian Vikings' involvement in the islamic slave trade?

Yes, it does. Not only in Ireland, but in Russia down the Volga to the Black Sea and Constantinople, in England, and the Frankish kingdoms. Also in Al-Andalus and North Africa, where the Vikings actually took Muslims as slaves. I don't know where they sold them! The wealthy ones were ransomed.

Gary Rumain said...

Baron,

Thank you for confirming that.

I read about the Viking activities in one of the articles here.

I believe the slave markets are mentioned too. This article covers the other side of the issue.

Gary Rumain said...

I should also point out that the Vikings stopped their slaving activities after they converted to Christianity.

Baron Bodissey said...

mace --

There is much that is repugnant about Roman civilization,I'm not an uncritical admirer.

I've no argument with you there.

However, there is an apparently unexamined historical premise that you and many other commenters ignore when discussing such matters: The capacity to feel "repugnance" about these hideous things is a gift from Christianity and Judaism.

Yes, Christians were (and are) serial hypocrites about their morality. Yes, Christians committed many, many crimes which their religion found morally objectionable.

But their sort of conscience -- the conscience which they themselves violated when they committed what they considered to be sins -- didn't even exist in Europe until it was introduced by Christianity.

The actions which today's atheists and secularists find "repugnant" possess that characteristic only because Christianity introduced the idea of their being repugnant. Before the Christian era, enslavement and mass rape and slaughter were something everyone on the receiving end wanted to avoid, but such acts were not freighted with any moral opprobrium. That was simply what invading and occupying armies always did.

The capacity to recognize most of what we consider immoral behavior as immoral was a gift from Christianity. To a believer, it was wrong in the eyes of God, and therefore immoral to do it.

Over the centuries such morality became internalized, until it represented the unthinking common ethical structure that all of today's atheists, secularists, and neo-pagans have inherited. It is a gift to them from medieval European Christianity.

Pagan Europe -- Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Nordic -- simply did not feel distaste for most of what we find morally distasteful. This fact is amply attested by contemporary Greek and Roman writers.

To fail to recognize this and acknowledge it is evidence of an inability to examine and understand our history in any real depth. These things are demonstrably true, as evidenced by the historical record, despite any modern ideology which prompts us to believe otherwise.

Dymphna said...

@Jewel--

I am also reading a book about the pagans.
Paul Among the People: The Apostle reinterpreted and reimagined in his own time. By Sarah Ruden.

The practices of the Greeks and Romans during the time of Christ and Paul are appalling. I am beginning to really appreciate the Judeo-Christian heritage into which I was born
...

Ah, Jewel, that one is on my b'day list (actually it's the only thing on my list besides anchovies in olive oil, something I'm sure you can also appreciate ;-).


One of our guest bloggers sent me a note about it and I was most interested, just from reading the reviews, which I recommend doing...mini history lesson right there.

Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time

The description of life at the time -- i.e., what Paul was fighting against, gives his writings a whole new depth. The level of degradation and callousness is almost unspeakable. Especially the use of little boys, as though they were objects to be tossed away.

Interestingly, Sarah Ruden is a Quaker, a translator of Classical literature like Aristophanes, and an astonishingly good poet. She also chose to live and work in some of the hell holes in Africa. Not a person to be taken lightly...

I particularly admire anyone who can write a villanelle. The one I linked to here is really an echo of some Pauline themes...

My favorite poem to introduce her work is this whimsical piece:

Draft #1 of Advertisement

Please buy my book.
I seem to have these cats.
I will not spend the royalties
On restaurant meals and hats.
The cats moved in
A few days after me.
And in a while they knew so much
I had to feed all three.

That whole-grain stuff
In bags: I can't afford it.
It's good, okay - I know it's good,
To judge from how they snort it.

Some goat-hoof brand,
A cat nerd on the label,
Is what I haul most often home,
And shove beneath my table

For them to sniff,
While I think back on when
I could not keep a tick alive.
It was much better then.

But buy my book,
If only for their sake.
They chose a poet: do not let
Them starve for their mistake
.

A most interesting woman.

Jewel, be sure to read her poem about her children. It's disguised by the title, which I think is called "Birthday poem" or something like that...

Dymphna said...

@ Escape Velocity:

Dalrymple has a new book out:

The New Vichy Syndrome:Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism

Mixed reviews in the journals and on Amazon. Also see the reviews of the reviews, especially the fellow who does a video. That form seems to draw the most attention, even if only to say they don't like the form itself (or do, as the case may be).

parabarbarian said...

Pedant point.

The Christians were just a few of the many victims served up to appeases the seemingly insatiable blood lust of the "crowd". By the 1st Century AD, Rome had become a welfare state where killing people was considered entertainment. By then the most common punishment for all but petty crimes was being sentenced to the arena.

The Roman hostility toward Christians was largely grounded in the Eucharist which Roman law treated as ritual cannibalism. Even though not all sects practiced transubstantiation, they were all painted with the same broad brush. Add to that the Christian refusal to acknowledge the established religion of Rome and the situation was ready made for abuses.

Robin Shadowes said...

They recently found the skeletons of 30 beheaded young vikings. My oh my, I wonder who actually beheaded them because I assume they didn't behead themselves. So let's see at the options.

1. They had made some crime against their own and was beheaded by other vikings.
2. They where beheaded by enraged english heathens who had tired of the constant ravaging and pillaging.
3. They ran into some missionaries and refused to accept christ thence off with their heads part.
4. We know mahoundians went as far as Iceland on slave raids and the british isles was also affected of it.
5. They all grew a serious depression at the same time and decided to slice off their own poor kopfs.

Personally I lean towards either option 2 or 3.

Dymphna said...

Mr. Shadowes:

You're cute when you lean, sir.

Since this is anecdote and we get to choose, I'll go with Door #5. Those winters up there are hard on everybody.

Jewel said...

@Dymphna: Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a trove. If this book is on your list, would you like me to send you my copy of it when I am done reading it? I would be happy to mail it to you!
My daughter graduated from college, believing herself an 'atheist'...hardly. She is having a crisis of faith. She is DEVOURING this book. She studied Latin for 4 years in high school, and was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology and history. Like mom, that way...What I find interesting is how the author of this book reconnects Paul with actual history.
So used to reading his words in a contemmporary context that we make the mistake that Paul wasn't concerned about the 2000 years of history his letters have been around, but for the urgency of the moment he was writing.
I am going to go and savor her poetry. The Draft #1 for an Advertisement is witty and fun.

Afonso Henriques said...

Baron, the Vikings also attacked Christian Iberia and Italy (the South at least).
Also, you say that those moral codes we take for granted are a legacy of Christianity.
I don't doubt Christianity is important. I tend to see the Vikings as true formidable Barbarians opposed to the Civilised Romans.
Didn't pagan Rome went Carthagenian over Carthage also because the Cartagenians sacrificed human babies, which was abhorant for the pagan Romans?
I also believe that Pagan Rome after had achieved a certain level of Civilisation didn't alow for the sacrifice of humans, right?

So, probabily what we take for granted is a certain amount of Civilisation.
I know many people here who go Protestant over the Bible and just opt to completley ignore the Old Testment because they don't like it and find it "too Barbarian".

Again, I'd say that what we take for granted is not derived from religion - in that aspect you were taken, I recognise much of us come from our religion - but instead derived from a certain level of Civilisation.

Like, I bet that during WWII some deaths took on a selvatical semi-sacrificial tone.

EscapeVelocity said...

"No,I'm not.My assertion is that the Christians only preserved those aspects of pagan civilization that were compatible with their doctrines and ignored or destroyed anything else. This is standard procedure for theocracies,rather like the Islamic theocracies today."

Kindof like how Dawkins and the like are extremely hostile to Intelligent Design, and are trying to prevent it being taught in schools, thus killing its propagation, becuase it doesnt fit into his metaphysical worldview. Or the Soviet Communists Atheists who also destroyed works and peoples that didnt jive with their belief system. You are singling out religion, because you are preceding from anti religious bigotry. You rationalize your bigotry.

"The statement that the Enlightenment is a product of nominal 'Christians' is true,however,if they had been true believers the Enlightenment could not have occurred."

This is pap nonsense. Reason and learning was always embraced by the Catholic Church and the Protestants continued that tradition, and Christianity in general. You seem to assert that Christianity and Reason are separated by a wall, which is false. Science itself is supported by the underlying metaphysics of Christianity, while it is not in say Buddhism.

"I suggest you consult some sources that aren't from the Catholic Church. The Church was reformed from the outside,this process is still going on-have you noticed lately? The narcissism of the Church hierarchy is breathtaking."

Like the book by Thomas Wolfe that I posted?

I suggest you start reading 2000 years of Christian philosophy before you proclaim upon Christianity from a position of ignorance, and proceding from bigotry.

Perhaps not getting your info on Christianity from the likes of Dawkins, Grayling, and Harris would be a good start.

Yorkshireminer said...

Robin

I presume you are thinking of those 51 bodies and 50 heads found in a mass grave down in Dorset in England last year, carbon dating put the time of death in the region of 900AD all in the age range of late teens too early twenties with a few in the thirties. It seems that examination of the teeth, I am not sure how they managed it indicated that they came from different parts of Scandinavia and one had come from north of the Arctic circle. All were well built and well nourished, what had me chuckling was that the archaeologist, were puzzled because there was no indication of clothing on the bodies. Well you don't want to get blood on Cedric's new cloths when he goes out courting Elfreda. Cloths were expensive and time consuming to make so a few hand me downs was a nice addition too the family budget. The site was not far from the coast. They were most likely a group from a large raiding party that was cut off and captured. People think that the Viking raiders came in dribs and drabs they most likely did at the beginning, but they were more organized than people think King Canute not the one who tried to turn back the tide the one who was trying to organize the reconquest of Northern England after William the Conquers raising of the North had gathered together a fleet of over a 1,000 ships if records are to be believed, before he was killed in Odense, and the operation aborted. They were most likely part of a large raiding party that was cut off and captured, the numbers suggest that they were a crew of a reasonable large ship.
I will even go so far and say they were most likely executed in the summer. Raiding was done in the summer break when they had more time on there hands. Scandinavia was still an agricultural economy and most of the work on the farm is during the spring planting and during the harvest the few months of slack in the middle gives you time enough to nip over too England for a little bit of rape and pillaging . Why they came out of the North as thunderbolt out of hell is most likely due too the fact that Scandinavia was suffering from a population explosion at the time. A surplus of young men with no chance of getting on in life would be enough for most of them to sign on. We saw the same thing in Britain during the 19th century when Britain supplied 30% of all European emigrants to the New World . We see the same thing happening in the Muslim countries now, Islam is not the worlds fastest growing religion because of its spiritual message it is because the only things the muslim countries took to heart from the west was modern medicine and the green revolution which has allowed there populations to expand as such a rate. Gaza is a case in point, it has an average age of 15.8, most of them no hoper's. The worst of it is that it is subsidized by the west. It will of course change when we start running out of food because we have not oil or gas to produce the fertilizers that drive the green revolution. When the world's food supply starts to contract, the food producing countries, ie the west will kept it for themselves. Hungry people have a tendency to cause revolutions, and our politicians how venal they maybe are not stupid. Nobody seemed to notice that we had food riots in 30 countries in the world about the same time as oil prices peaked and Vietnam, a rice exporting country restricted exports. Malthus is not dead he is just having a quiet nap in his tomb in Bath Abbey. History is driven by more mundane things than theology, access to energy and food being a couple, Islam by a quirk of geology has the energy the world needs at the moment when that runs out the political landscape will change those who control the worlds food supply then have the whip hand, and it wont be Islamic countries.

EscapeVelocity said...

One of the ultimate ironies is that which mace unknowingly stumbled upon. That I shouldnt rely on the Catholic Church for information. But it is precisely the Catholic Church which were the record keepers, the observers, the catalogers. It is the Church from which we get most of our information about the pagans in the North (like the Romans before them). (An extension of this is Europeans which observed often in an attempted objective manner the illiterates and semi literates on 4 continents later.)

An interesting side effect of this, is something similar to the Moynihan Formulation, which paraphrased is that Western Democracies are often criticized out of proportion with deservedness in comparison to totalitarian and dictatorial states, because of the ability and will to hide wrongdoings. So that it may seem to the non deep thinker that it is the Democracies that are much much worse than the Totalitarian states. Similarly,the Catholic Church (and the Europeans in a worldwide context) provide reems and reems of documentation of their doings, from which to study and find a multitude of events and doings from which to criticize them with, especially if you are antagonistic or hostile to them seeking only to provide rationalization or that preconceived hostility and bigotry. But the pagans, not much is known, and of that most of what is known is provided by the Catholics (and the Europeans with regards to people on 4 semi-literate continents). So that these peoples and their cultures and ideologies and religions, assume a more childlike innocence, and their entanglements with Europeans(Catholics/Christians) take on the air of the evil Euro Christians oppressing and ill treating these peaceful wonderful cultures and peoples. Furthermore in the Leftist configuration (provided by Edward Said which is called Orientalism), any records by the Euros which do not paint "the Other" in a good light become negated as nothing more than the expression of European superiority and bigotry, so they can be safely discarded, when convenient. However when they show Europeans/Catholics/Christians doing things that are worthy of criticism from a moral standpoint, there is no problem with condemning the Euros/Catholics/Christians.

Something to be aware of in your search for understanding, in a sea of agendas and propaganda.

As an aside, I was recently talking to a Black American about the Confederacy, the reasons for the Civil War, and Slavery, and whatnot, and when I brought up some inconvenient facts about Black African Slavers, he refused to discuss it, saying it had nothing to do with condemning the Confederacy. He wasnt interested in understanding, he was interested in confirmation bias of his hostility to white Euro Americans in general and the Confederacy in particular. Futhermore he gave me a list of his ancestors that were slaves in the Confederacy. I asked him, if he knew of any of his ancestors before they were slaves in the US. Silence. So there is no animosity towards any historical maltreatment of his ancestors by other tribes in Africa, but the white man provided him with reems of documentation with which to fan the flames of his indignation, animosity, and resentment. But it also let him know who his ancestors were going back to the time they came into the purview of European control. Interesting no?

bartholomewscross said...

EV,
You make an excellent point when you say that is Western Christians' precise and honest documentation of their shortcomings which gives their enemies so much ammunition.

Have you ever reflected on Jesus' certainty, even before the crucifixion, that his followers would be persecuted? I wonder if persecution is simply the logical consequence for making oneself open and vulnerable to others.

mace wrote,

"Actually, whether or not Christians were persecuted for their beliefs is open to dispute.Christians refused to acknowledge the Emperor's divinity,this made them political criminals."

This argument doesn't make any sense. Christians didn't refuse to acknowledge the Emperor's "divinity" because they wanted to stick it to the man or change the political order. They refused to worship the emperor because their faith forbade them from doing so.

When the government punishes you for practicing your faith, then yes, you are being persecuted for your faith. Are you really disputing this?

Robin Shadowes said...

Yorkshireminer, I stand corrected. My memory obviously played tricks on my. Your numbers are the right ones.

Gary Rumain said...

Lots of very interesting commentary and points to note here.

EV, if you ever happen speak to that black American again, ask him about <a href="http://www.forrestsescort.org/blacks.htm>this</a>.

I came across a photo (different to the ones on that page) and though it interesting. I was reminded of it by your remarks but couldn't find the original page again so I did a Google search. There appear to lots of references to this but also some sites that claim its all a myth.

Gary Rumain said...

Oops! Messed up the reference.

EscapeVelocity said...

Yes, there were about 60,000 black Confederate soldiers who served during the Civil War. Many of them saw the elephant, as fully armed soldiers and some in complete black units.

Here is a site of one of their ancestors, who came to embrace the Confederacy and the causes that they fought for.

http://thesouthernamerican.org/colour.html

There are others. Blacks are joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans in some numbers now...but still low. The Sons of Confederate Veterans are mainly record keepers similar to the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Many Native Americans and also Jews in large numbers served with or were allies to the Confederate Rebels, in the conflict.

Many of the issues that are front and center today are the same ones that were in contention in that Conflict....and along similar regional lines. The Tea Partiers are the new Confederates.

EscapeVelocity said...

Have you ever reflected on Jesus' certainty, even before the crucifixion, that his followers would be persecuted? I wonder if persecution is simply the logical consequence for making oneself open and vulnerable to others. --- barth

I dont think the documentation aspect comes into this. This was more of a consequence of the moral code that would conflict with the powers that be, anywhere the proselytizing Christian went. Christianity is an attractive ideology, and thus we can see that in China, they are being persecuted by the government, which sees Christian thought and morality as a threat to their current enforced or otherwise order...which it will.

Gary Rumain said...

EV,

Interesting that you should mention China since I was looking up the history of slavery in East Asia (China, Japan, Korea. Seems there's no great history of it).

China, of course, had its own moral code based on Confucianism that has been around for over 2,000 years and spread to its immediate Asian neighbours - Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

Maoist doctrine tried to overthrow that as well as religion in general. Hence its attitude towards Christianity.

EscapeVelocity said...

Christianity is a challenge to the Confucian order, which Mao couldnt destroy and tried to make peace with, as do the current Fascist ChiComs. Christianity is seen as alien and foreign Western imperial invader...of the East and the current order and the traditional cultural order of China.

EscapeVelocity said...

You can see Robin Shadowes in the continuation of this discussion a few threads up started by Baron, cherry picking from the vast amounts of documentation provided by the Catholic Church to back his condemnation of same. Something about 4 popes or something.

Just thought that was noteworthy.

rebelliousvanilla said...

Well, Christianity doesn't have any problems with slavery either.

kristisk, the problem is that people need a wholesale movement to rally behind, not just points they agree upon. Simply being together on something is futile, just like the anti-abortion movement in the US was due to it being simply centred around a single specific issue. You need to have a cohesive movement in order to succeed, not a group of socialists, political correct people, communists, fascists, Randists and whoever else who simply are against Islam. Unless you come out with a movement that has a backbone on which it is built, with a certain narrative behind, you're wasting your time politically. Also, there's no such thing as Islamist. It's either being Muslim and a subject of Islam or not. I kept saying that there's no such thing as moderate Islam, just moderate Muslims and Muslims who actually live by Islam's dictates - doing so is what makes Muslims terrorists.

mace, I'm an atheist so I'm fairly unbiased, especially if you read my first sentence of this comment, even if they're not always properly applied due to their universalist nature. It's sad that on this one there's no objective middle ground - either everything good on Earth is a result of Christianity or Christianity is the root cause of everything morally evil.

EV, intelligent design being taught in schools is like evolution being taught in the church(I doubt you'd want that and even if I'm an atheist, I wouldn't either). The best thing would be to just abolish public education. Everyone would pay for their children education in a school that teaches what their parents want. :P

EscapeVelocity said...

I dont agree with that RV. But Im all for school choice, that is the libertarian solution...to alleviate conflict. With the government monopoly solution, it becomes a fight for control of the ciricula.

rebelliousvanilla said...

EV, yes and it might avoid me being inprisoned for running my car over the teacher of my children who would make them feel guilty for their existence. lol

And I know that you don't agree. I mean, I don't really care if both are taught, considering that I would be involved in the education of my children and guide them through. This is what I don't really get, but maybe it's because I inherited this from people who had to teach their children common sense and unlearn them the brainwashing they were getting.

EscapeVelocity said...

You should be so lucky for your children to get a rigorous Jesuit education.

The best there is.

EscapeVelocity said...

Guy Rumain, there were blacks who fought for the Ian Smith government in Rhodesia as well.