Archive for the ‘Protestantism’ Category

The Protestant Revolution-Part 3

October 5, 2007

I finally got around to watching part three of this four part series. The fact that i have only done so now and that final part has been broadcast reflects my enthusiasm for the series. Again this episode was a real mixed bag. Hunt tried to show how Protestantism was the father or modernity which is an important idea. However I have perhaps two quibbles. The first is that yet again he appears to have little real grasp of how Protestantism is driven by religious ideas. So 16th century iconoclasm was like the actions of the ‘Taleban’, ‘sacrilege’ carried out by ‘Protestant stormtroopers.’  Very little sense here of the religious motivation of these actions. My second issue is that there is little explanation of the cleavage between Protestantism and modernity. Why did the latter outgrow the former? Okay, Hunt makes the point about how Protestantism released a spirit of anti-authoritarianism but there is no real explanation of how modernity broke away from Protestant ideas.

One of the striking things about the programme, perhaps not intended by the makers, is that it illustrates just how irrelevant Protestantism has now become to mainstream public life in  Britain. Every time he wants to consider modern Protestantism he heads for the USA.

The Protestant Revolution- Part Two

September 20, 2007

Another curious programme- did a quick shot of a naked woman during mardi gras really help us understand Protestantism and its cultural impact? Last night’s programme focussed upon sex and the family. Hunt pointed out that Protestantism changed the view of sexuality within Christianity.  Where Protestantism gave a much more positive view of sexuality. Although he did insist upon arguing that there was a tension in Protestantism between it democratic tendency and the patriarchy of the Bible.

Again the programme tended to jump about a bit. The most dissatisfying part of the programme is the presenters inability to distinguish between cultural trends and the impetus that arises from Protestantism itself. For example was the move for woman’s sufferage something that arose from Protestantism or was it part of a wider cultural trend that some Protestant woman latched onto? Protestantism is in the series as a whole very loosely defined.

To be honest the programme is really rather dull.

The Protestant Revolution-Part One

September 13, 2007

BBC4 began a 4 part history of Protestantism last night. I watched it today (catching up on missed tv as I have the flu). It is presented by Tristram Hunt. It is good to see this subject tackled especially since it is recognising the huge influence of Protestantism on western culture. The programme was however somewhat disjointed- leaping for example from the dissolution of the monasteries under HenryVIII in the 1530’s to the the Scottish National Covenant in 1648. Also the programme made a few dubious connections. Were the Methodists really the descendants of the Levellers? Did Protestants forget about the eternal emphasised by Catholicism for the sake of temporal politics. I also thought that the programme assumed too much background knowledge.

The programme whilst seeking to emphasise the radical nature of Protestantism never really got to the heart of the matter- the real religious convictions that inspired many Protestant figures. Nor did it ever really get to the reasons why it got to the very heart British identity. Why for example did Britain remain staunchly anti-catholic well into the 20th century? Nor did Ireland merit any more than a passing mention in one of the last parts of the western world where the issue of Protestant identity remains to the fore.

A good subject to tackle but a bit of a light-weight treatment, even allowing for the fact that it was made for tv. I was left wondering what the real point of the programme was- we all know about George Bush’s ideals. There are interesting subjects to follow-family, art, capitalism- how they are treated remains to be seen but this was not a promising start.