Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

How Christianity Conquered the White Conquerors

Rome, Italy

One may hope that the conquest is only temporary.

by Revilo P. Oliver

A READER asks: Dr. Revilo Oliver in Christianity and the Survival of the West states that pagan Nordics accepted Christianity because it was “more congenial to their minds.” Well, if the religion of Thor and Odin was too bleakly pessimistic, why didn’t they turn to the Celtic concept of the “thereafter”? It was just as joyful and serene a paradise as any a Christian missionary could invent.

Dr. Oliver was kind enough to reply to this interesting question:

1. Although we do not know precisely what concepts of a “thereafter” were entertained by the Celts at the time that Caesar noted with some astonishment their belief in immortality, that belief, as he reports it, included metempsychosis, which may or may not have been compatible with the beautiful and poetic myths of Ynys yr Afallon (Avalon), Ynysgutrin, and Tir nan Og that were recorded at much later dates. I grant, of course, that these lands, thought of as existing somewhere far in the West, like the Beatae Insulae of Classical myth, were “as joyful and serene a paradise as any Christian missionary could invent.” In fact, I think them much more attractive.

2. I do not know how generally these myths were known to the Norse, whose bleakly pessimistic (but realistic) view of the world’s future closed with the Ragnarok, to which a regenerated world, familiar from the very end of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, although present in the tenth-century Völuspá, was doubtless a later addition. If the Celtic myth was well known to them, I doubt that they, any more than good minds in our time, would have given credence to a myth merely because it was allicient and pleasing. I certainly did not mean to imply that they rejected their own religion because it was so gloomy.

3. The principal reason for the ‘conversion’ of the Norse to the new cult is, in my opinion, the one stated in the footnote to p. 21 of Christianity and the Survival of the West. The Christianity known to the invaders of the Roman Empire (in which the Romans had, for all practical purposes, become extinct more than two centuries before) was that of the peculiar sect that succeeded in allying itself with the despotic power of a dying Empire and using that power to exterminate the very numerous Christian sects that were its competitors in the salvation-business. This sect had a holy book that had been assembled and carelessly edited around the end of the Third Century; it consisted of (a) an anthology of a few gospels selected and revised (ineptly) from the hundred gospels that had been composed in the Second and Third Centuries, purporting to give a precise and circumstantial account of events that had happened at specified times in well-known places, and had supposedly been witnessed by many thousands of individuals, including the purported authors of the principal tales; and (b) the Jews’ storybook about the exploits of their tribal deity, which also had the form of an historical record. The whole, despite glaring inconsistencies that, if noticed at all, were explained away by clever theologians, and despite gross physical and historical blunders that escaped detection in a time of growing ignorance and irrationality, seemed to form a history of events so specific and accurate that it was possible for the eminent English divine, John Lightfoot, to “prove” that Adam had been created on Friday, October 21, 4004 B.C.

4. A secondary reason was that our barbarian ancestors captured and dismembered an Empire that, even in its decay, retained and exhibited a manifest superiority to their own culture in manufactured products (especially those requisite for luxury and refinement), in engineering and architecture, in literature and art, and in social organization. These impressive remains of past greatness they naturally, though mistakenly, associated with the superstition that had been imposed on the mongrel Roman population by its last despots.

5. There were numerous minor factors (e.g., the well-known vaudeville trick by which St. Poppo performed a “miracle” to impress the ignorant and gullible Harald Blaatand “Bluetooth,” King of Denmark; Charlemagne’s conquest of the pagan Saxons; etc.), but I believe I have stated above the two main causes of the unfortunate conversion of the Norse to a deleterious religion.

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Source: Instauration magazine, February 1979

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  1. Dana
    23 June, 2016 at 7:25 am — Reply

    Christianity converted the North thru a terror that was similarly occurring at the same time around the Mediterranean rim.
    Let us also not forget the old style Christianity was capable of beheading 4500 Saxons, in 782 at Verden, in the Holy name of the Prince of Peace. “Don’t believe in Jesus?” “Chop off his head.” Back then Christianity as practiced by Charlemagne the butcher, was a different religion indeed, but nowadays the Marcion heresy has won. Marcion did not believe in the Old Testament. The Old Tribal Testament is no more, it is only legitimate for one Tribe and one Tribe only who shall remain nameless like their God. The Old Testament with its commonsense solutions to life is gone, it no longer may be used by modern Europeans. We are left with the emphasis on the New Testament as the only way to be a true Christian. So the dewy, damp and limp pages of the New Testament are the religious code by which modern Europeans are living and it causes us no end of problems.
    But to convert the North in the 700s Charlemagne used terror as the Muslims used terror to convert the Mediterranean rim.

    Let us not forget those 4500 Saxons beheaded at Verden, that was a lot of valuable Saxon men, back in those days. About 180,000 men in today’s numbers.
    Charlemagne also practiced ethnic cleansing at the same time, bringing every third Saxon family south to de-paganize and show them the Way, The Truth, and The Light(under pain of death).
    Rodney Stark, who has written a boatload of books on the idea that ‘Christianity is good’ (relatively speaking) has another recent book out titled ‘How the West Won.’2014

    It is revisionist history, saying for example the Muslim religion is bankrupt, all their ostensive scientific advancements were due to the dhimmi cultures they had conquered.

    Also the idea that people don’t convert for the peaceful doctrine, they convert because their leaders and their friends did. People were not concerned about doctrine. “Conversion is primarily an act of conformity” p.114

    He also talks about Verden. In this view (just a suggestion in the book) Christianity was imposed in the most brutal fashion on the people of the North, it was a religion they did not want, it was not the doctrine that attracted them, it was the simple idea of living another day that forced them to pay lip service to the bearded woman, Jesus. It was a forcible conversion of fear for the people of the North, not a conversion of belief. On p. 97 Stark discusses the idea that the Vikings, a hundred years later, targeted British Monasteries and Monks, not necessarily because they were defenseless but “because they were angry about efforts to Christianize the North. Especially provocative would have been the atrocities committed by Charlemagne, who, for example, had about 4,500 unarmed Saxon captives forcibly baptized and then executed. The Vikings seem to have known that Charlemagne had issued an edict imposing the death sentence on all who tried to resist Christianization.”

    Stark cites a 2009 book by Robert Ferguson for this idea about the Vikings, ‘The Vikings, a History,’ p 54.

    We laugh at George Bush’s description of Islam as a religion of peace, should we also be skeptical about Christianity being described as a ‘religion of peace?’

  2. 23 June, 2016 at 8:29 pm — Reply

    Christianity was famous for destroying books, just as Moslems did.
    Interesting comment on the ‘wrath of the Northmen’. Maybe the economic arm of Christianity as shown by monasteries etc had in effect robbed them? Just a guess really.
    Looking at Christianity it has to be borne in mind that times change, and the Church too – there must have been many different versions of Christianity, almost unrecognisable to each other. I have here a booklet ‘Churches Together in the Merseyside Region’, ‘A guide: refugees, asylum seekers 7 migrants’ — full of lies. The Church now is Jewish – probably they do that for the money.
    Do you have solid info on the imposition of Christianity? Esp in Europe. I’d like some for my website, for one thing, but in any case it’s an interesting topic.

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