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Circles under churches
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Re: Circles under churches
Aug 20, 2005, 01:23
Well, you know Peter, I'm coming to the conclusion (as I indicated in my last post) that this is not a clear cut yes or no issue.

When you say that, "...the pagan stones (were) either cast aside... or kept as some kind of PR exercise..." you seem to be denying the possibility that both things might be going on at the same time; in fact perhaps we shouldn't even be thinking that there was such a clear divide between subjugation and assimilation; we can almost see a similar phenomenon today when a play is forced to close because of pressure from a certain sector of society. It doesn't mean that that sector is now dominant in society or that freedom of expression has been suppressed, it simply means that there are forces within society acting one upon the other until a certain 'levelling' is achieved.

It could equally be said (when you say that stones were cast aside) that the easiest way to have utterly suppressed the Scots would have been to have destroyed the Stone of Scone in front of them. That wasn't done; the Stone of Scone was taken away by Edward I and became a symbol of both subjugation <i>and</i> assimilation in the minds of the English. In the minds of the Scots however it remained a symbol of their identity. What do you think the Scots imagined whenever they caught a glimpse of their Stone of Destiny beneath the Coronation Chair of St Edward? Subjugation? Yes. Assimilation? Perhaps. Their traditions and national identity? Certainly. And what do you think those half-pagan parishioners imagined some one thousand years ago when they saw one of their 'sacred' stones embedded in the foundations of a church? Who knows, though I like to think that they didn't see their old beliefs being completely destroyed before them; to be honest, I doubt if the Church at that time had the strength or the authority to attempt it.

You ask, "When was the church ever tolerant?" Not very often I agree (though as I've just said, perhaps more tolerant through lack of authority in its early years than in its latter). But you know, there's a kind of contradiction here. The foundations of Christianity do not rest solely on the teachings of Christ, they also rest on the earlier belief system of Judaism. I'm not saying of course that Christianity in Britain rests on a pagan tradition but it might be unwise to deny the presence of pagan influences - how <i>much</i> influence of course is what makes this whole debate so interesting and I thank you for your interesting and thought-provoking comments :-)
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