Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison
greensh

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Biased Literature

X-posted from a pagancentric LJ group... the original question was about the sourcing of medieval texts on paganism. The majority (all?) of the texts referenced were written by Christian authorities. The incredible irony of this struck me. I replied with the following.
I am reminded that history is written by the victors. While the Christian slant is of historical interest, it is slanted to a point that I would wonder about it's true relevancy. As the mate and friend of modern day witches, I know their behavior has little resemblance to the remarks of their modern day detractors.

The History Channel recently aired the show, "Hell: The Devil's Domain". The show touched on the 1980s outcry against Satanic cults mind washing members and sacrificing all manner of animals/people. The topic was fuel for the fire of those who believed that Satan was alive and well in the world. Much of the "testimony" was accredited to "recovered memories" of adults or the testimony of children. Subsequent investigations by the likes of the FBI could find no organized cults. Wikipedia has a good article on this phenomenon.

This only happened a handful of decades ago. While it was largely disproved in our lifetimes, who is to say that future generations won't pick up the books written about the Satanic cult abuse and believe them to be fact? And, consider that those who have a vested interest in Satanic cults being around probably continue to talk and write about the phenomenon even though much of their source material is no longer universally supported.
Reading this again makes me wonder how much of "history" is true. Now, the real question is, what is true history? It strikes me that most of historical writings border on fiction. The challenge with writing "history" is that any author has a bias. The result of their writings will reflect their view of the world. The sincere Christian will write that Pagans are of the Devil. The sincere Pagan will completely disagree. Both are accurate from their own perspective. Another thing to consider is that a historical book must be published. Those in the control of the machineries of publication must approve the book. Pressure is applied to the author to modify their bias to that of the publisher. Does this happen in the writing of history texts? Of course. Consider that history textbooks must be approved by school boards with their own beliefs and agendas. With these pressures, there are modern examples of history textbooks that approach fictional status by the exclusion or coloring of historical interpretation. Did the medieval authors have any more freedom in their publications? History is truly written by the victors, or as a fellow LJ person punned, the vicars.

More bad-news, good-news about human nature for my soul. Seek your own histories. Validate your own realities. Don't rely on others to serve your harmonious interests.

$.02 (clink)
Tags: christian, history, pagan
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