A History of Christianity; The Great Rift: Africa's Wild Heart
The first programme of the evening was the next episode of A History of Christianity - this time about the Reformation & Protestantism. The continuity announcer said it was about a "schism in the church" as if this was somehow different to the other programmes - which made us laugh as we've already covered at least 2 schisms before this one ;) The first half of the programme covered the birth & spread of Protestant Christianity - talking about Luther, Zwingli (who led the Reformed Christian church in Zurich, whose name I tend to forget) and Calvin (led the church in Geneva and this is the branch of Protestantism that was taken up in Scotland). The programme covered (briskly) the central disagreements between Protestantism & the Catholic Church - the Protestant view that one's salvation was effectively between oneself & God, not involving the clergy as intermediaries (and most definitely not involving the purchase of indulgences), and also the arguments over transubstantiation (is the bread & wine actually turned into the body & blood of Christ in the eucharist or is it done in remembrance of him). One theme that was strongly drawn out was the tendency of Protestantism to sectarianism - once everyone was to read the Bible & think about the words of God, and once obedience to the clergy wasn't one of the tenets of the Church, then groups of like-minded people will tend to come together and form their own churches with their own interpretations of what God really meant us to do. That half of the programme finished with a brief look at the English Reformation which was peculiar - state politics was a bigger part of it and the eventual Church is less Protestant than other Protestant Churches. Then MacCulloch moved on to talking about the Counter-Reformation, which actually grew more out of the Spanish Reconquest of Spain than as a response to Protestantism - the Spanish zeal against the Muslims was re-targeted against the Protestants once the Moors were driven out. He also showed us some churches in Mexico as during the same time period where the Catholic Church was losing ground in Northern Europe it was also converting the peoples of South America.
I was amused to see a brief review of the whole A History of Christianity series which said MacCulloch didn't betray his biases - because I thought that one thing that came through clearly in this programme was his bias towards Protestantism & away from the Roman Catholic Church ;) Not in a way that got in the way of presenting the factual data, but nonetheless I thought it obvious.
Second programme of the evening was the first part of the nature programme about the Great Rift in Africa - J spotted a repeat of it the other day so recorded it as we'd missed it before. This one was about fire, and really looked at the areas around the still active volcanoes & the way the landscape has been shaped by the volcanoes in the area. Lots of good footage of the animals/plants of the region. so fun to watch. But as with the other two programmes in the series where it fell down was the maps that theoretically showed us where things were - no names of places not even those talked about in the commentary and the view was narrow enough that you couldn't see enough surrounding the region to orient yourself that way either. We'd also managed to catch the repeat with sign-language interpretation, which was a bit distracting.