I hope all our first-year students studying ‘Introduction to Christian Doctrine and History’ have been watching BBC1’s latest costume drama epic based on the Hilary Mantel novels, ‘Wolf Hall’.
Unlike some previous romps into this tumultuous period in our history, such as ‘The Tudors’, this adaptation picks out the various delicate threads that underlay events that we group together under the grand name of ‘Reformation’. Power, personality, philosophical principles, the overhanging influence of international politics and, of course, conviction and faith, all played a part in decisions that affected not just individual lives but the future religious shape of our country.
The issue of principle versus self-preservation was a real question for people at this time. In this situation was it right, as Anne Boleyn and the later radical Christian group the Familists thought, to say whatever would keep you alive? Or was it justifiable, as happened in episode 3, to stand up and declaim your faith knowing it meant your life? Given flesh and put to the test, these questions do not appear quite so straightforward as they might seem in the black and white of print on paper.