12th (6th) Century Christians vs. 21st Century Al Qaeda
I’m currently reading a lot about King Arthur lately. I decided to go into the honors program at my college and the only class that they had left was Honors 211, otherwise known as Honors Humanities with an emphasis on the development of the story of King Arthur. It’s a really fun course, if you ever get the chance to study King Arthur over the years definitely do it. The 6th and 8th century texts were a little hard to read and follow, but we just got to Geoffrey of Monmouth, writer of The History of the Kings of Britain, and it’s really compelling.
A little background before I start making my point – The History of the Kings of Britain was written in about 1136 AD, give or take a few years. Geoffrey of Monmouth was writing about events that took place circa 500 AD. He had a writing style that would get most historians shot nowadays, however it was quite common at this time period. Basically they would take facts and expand on them. They’d add dialog to actual occurrences and make history read like a novel. If a fact was inconvenient to the story he’d simply imagine a new fact. It was a time of a very weird mix between fact and fiction, but it was accepted and entertaining.
Why am I saying all this? Well, I came across a passage that involves a man described as “the saintly Dubricius, Archbishop of the City of the Legions” and the speech that he gives to his troops directly before battle. Keep in mind that this guy is on the good guy’s side. And ugh, I can’t find the dialog on the internet to copy paste. Gotta type it. It’s worth it though.
You who have been marked with the cross of the Christian faith, be mindful of the loyalty you owe to your fatherland and to your fellow countrymen! If they are slaughtered as a result of this treacherous behavior of the pagans, they will be an everlasting reproach to you, unless in the meanwhile you do your utmost to defend them! Fight for your fatherland, and if you are killed suffer death willingly for your country’s sake. That in itself is victory and a cleansing of the soul. Whoever suffers death for the sake of his brothers offers himself as a living sacrifice to God and follows with firm footsteps behind Christ Himself, who did not disdain to lay down His life for His brothers. It follows that if any one of you shall suffer death in this war, that death shall be to him as a penance and an absolution for all his sins, given always that he goes to meet it unflinchingly.
Remind you of something? Al Qaeda maybe? Now, I’m admittedly not Christian, but I don’t mean this as a bad thing against them. It’s been a couple centuries since they were crazy like this. Not that they’re not crazy in different way now, but I think eventually the statue of limitations on something like this really kicks in, especially after several hundred years. A little crazy and batshit insane are a little different though.
My point? Al Qaeda is, in 2010, at the same point in history in their mind as the Christians were way back then. Sure, Christianity may have had some of this train of thought for a couple centuries afterwards, but still, they’re pretty much over that sort of talk. If you see transcripts of Al Qaeda tapes and you compare it with this quote, though, I think you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart. And that’s sad. Really, really sad.