"Dark Ages" (2009) - a recommended video
I first saw this 2009 documentary online not long after it aired on Channel 4 in the U.K. But later, when I went to watch it for a second time, it had vanished. Now I’ve found it again and I share it here for your delectation. It’s the third episode — and, in my opinion, the best episode — of an 8-part series on the history of Christianity, with each episode being hosted by a different commentator. This one is presented by Jamaican-born Dr. Robert Beckford, described on Wikipedia (read the entry here) as “a British academic theologian and currently Professor of Black Theology at The Queen’s Foundation, whose documentaries for both the BBC and Channel 4 have caused debate among the Christian and British religious community” — in other words, he’s provocative, and that’s no bad thing in my estimation. To be honest, I’ve liked his documentaries (I’ve watched them all), even the ones that have caused the most controversy. This one, however, isn’t particularly provocative, and it’s an unusual one for him: it’s nothing less than a celebration of the Dark Ages and Christianity’s coming to — and shaping of — Britain. For Beckford, this period — the age of Bede and Cuthbert — is the most important and influential in that island’s long history.
Here is the description of the episode (as found here):
Presented by leading theologian Robert Beckford, Dark Ages explores how warring pagan tribes in Britain became one nation under a single religion - Christianity.
In this extraordinary story, which begins with the fall of the Roman Empire 400 years after the birth of Jesus, we chart the precarious survival of Christianity in the Celtic West and Ireland following a struggle for souls between three different religious traditions: the warrior pagan religion of the Anglo-Saxons, Celtic Christianity and a resurgent Roman Christianity, which arrived with St Augustine in 597.
With the aid of noted experts in the field, Robert Beckford reveals how these conflicts were resolved and why Christianity was a vital element in the eighth-century creation of an alternative identity for the English peoples. This was a spectacular cultural achievement with a revolutionary agenda, which became, in the Kingdom of King Alfred, the basis of the nation we live in today.
The Pragmatic Mystic is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.