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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

St Boniface and Donar's Oak: an Apology

I note that today is St Boniface's Day. An Englishman who went to the Germans under the patronage of Charles Martel and converted many people in what is now the Netherlands and Germany.

Of course the only right thing to do with history is judge it in the light of modern views. Therefore I would like, on behalf of my late compatriot, to apologize to the late German former Pagans. The cutting down of Donar's Oak, knowing he had the protection of a mighty Frankish king, was an imperialist act. Basically he was saying that the biggest king had the best god.

It also flies in the face of our post-modern approach to inter-faith dialogue. What Boniface should have done, over mead and biscuits, was congratulate the Germans for their fine oak tree. Suggested that although live sacrifices aren't for everyone, they are in a very real sense a means of touching the divine. And asked if he could have some of the acorns, for this really cool meditation he was planning at Forest Kirk.

There's obviously not much, after all this time, we can do to make amends. But at our Filling up of Beakers this evening we'll be planting acorns in a ritual act of solidarity with those German converts. And in 50 years time, when the world has turned again, maybe one of my descendants will chop them down to build a new Moot House.

1 comment :

  1. Apparently Boniface was appalled by the standard of Latin used by the German converts when he came across a Bavarian priest baptising people in the name of the Fatherland, the Daughter and the Holy Spirit.

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