I’m currently doing a course on Old English literature, and although sometimes the words make me want to poke a crochet hook up my nose and pull my brain out bit by bit, I am loving the course. It is, without a doubt my favourite course outside the actual lit section so far. (It might have ‘literature’ in the course title, but it is most definitely philology.)
Not only do I love how the Anglo-Saxons turned everything into EPIC WAR in their poetry and prose, I also enjoy the fact that Aelfred was all about culturally uplifting his people, not to mention the culture that he was so crazy about.
Christianity was a large part of that culture. I’ve been interested in it since my first year at uni, when I took a Cultural Backgrounds course. We had to read the classics and the King James Bible. I was familiar with the classics, thanks to my gymnasium high school thing. (Here in the Netherlands, that doesn’t mean that you’re good at sports–it means you’re taught Greek and/or Latin, and you’re made familiar with classical culture. For the record, I was dreadful at most sports, unless it involved doing lots of sit-ups, being really flexible, or hockey.)
I can tell you about the odd plumbing reference in Piramus and Thisbe (and how, unfortunately, Shakespeare left this out of Romeo and Juliet), but my knowledge of Christianity still feels lacking. Luckily for me, I’m friends with the awesome Matthew Baugh, a pastor who writes wonderfully pulpy fiction in his spare time. He’s helped me learn a lot about religion and spiritual matters, and has done so in a kind and understanding way.
Now, the denizens of the Interwebs who are not fortunate enough to have Matthew as a part of their lives can read his musings on this subject in his blog God and Stuff.
It’s readable, interesting, accesible, and just plain good.