Tuesday, February 07, 2006

PBS and Irony

Let me get this straight. I'm watching a PBS special, and they pan to a soundbite from scholar Miranda Aldhouse Green, author of such spiritual classics as The World of the Druids and The Gods of the Celts, who seems rather angry. Specifically she is angry at the Christians who defamed her subject of study, trying as the Christians apparently did to make the Druids, Celts and other Barbarians sound, well, "barbarous." (Here's one example.)

I realize my tale to be thus far an unremarkable one for PBS, but context is everything. The program was called The Perfect Corpse which examines some of the remarkably preserved victims of what were probably human sacrifice in the pre-Christian era discovered in bogs. I had seen one such corpse before at the British Museum, not realizing however that they were legion. Most of them, keep in mind, sport exotic ritual torture wounds. The map above shows you where some of the victims were found, and it doesn't take a Ph.D. in archaeology to deduce that those that are found (over one thousand) probably indicate many more than were not. (Unless of course every bog in northwestern Europe happens to have been thoroughly inspected by archaeologists, in which case I retract my point.)

Do you see why it took me a while to get Dr. Aldhouse Green's contextually puzzling remark straight? It brings up that ever pressing question of the limits of cultural tolerance. Mark Steyn has his ideas about that in regard to the cartoon crisis. All I'm looking for is an admission, that at least in the case of ritual human sacrifice, Christianization wasn't always a bad idea.