The academic parts were well researched and well presented - very insightful and full of interesting details about the history of several religions, n...more The academic parts were well researched and well presented - very insightful and full of interesting details about the history of several religions, not just the Abrahamic ones, and what the religious landscape looked like a few thousand years ago before people started to put things down in stone and edit the more interesting parts out.
However, the book often strayed away from the academic and researched and tries to convert the reader to some sort of Neo-Pagen Goddess cult. No thank you, I'm, um, full? (less)
For a long time in King Arthur retellings – roughly from the 14th century to the 1960’s – Christianity was the de facto religion of the story, there w...more
For a long time in King Arthur retellings – roughly from the 14th century to the 1960’s – Christianity was the de facto religion of the story, there wasn’t even a suggestion of other possibilities. Even characters like Merlin and Morgan Le Fey used their magic within a Christian context. But, as counter culture was embraced in the 1960’s and 1970’s, so did the Other come to the forefront in Arthurian legend, starting with the Mists of Avalon as the ladies grooved to the Goddess, and a whole new subgenre was off, featuring awesome pagans and evil, dirty Christians, howling, foaming at the mouth mad dogs that needed to be put down.
Only very recently ha the pendulum swung towards a more grey approach – stories featuring good Christians, bad pagans, as well as bad Christians and good pagans. Hays makes a good point that at least the Christian religion doesn’t require slitting someone’s throat on a marble alter to ensure a good harvest. Also, he shows a true 5th century Catholic Church – one without a LOT of the bad stuff that got added on over the centuries. People forget that there was a reason Christianity first spread – they were actually doing/saying/offering some good stuff.
Still, for all that, Hays chooses to have his narrator be fairly firm in his Spock-like I believe-in-the-scientific-method approach to ALL religions, so he can describe everything without much bias, summing up a lot of the squabbling over which direction Christians want to take the Church with a modern liberal American attitude of seriously guys? You’re fighting over this? (less)