So, if you’ve not already discovered a showed called The Last Kingdom on Netflix, it’s definitely one of the better shows we’ve found recently. Though I must say, Netflix is doing a pretty stellar job with their original content.
Back to The Last Kingdom. Among the long list of things that make this show particularly good is one theme, a common thread that runs through the show, that offers a great critique of the struggle that seems to be an ever present battle in my own mind: the certainty of the church and the freedom of a more wholistic spirituality.
For a small bit of background, the timing is the late ninth century England, during the Danish invasion and occupation. The main character is born Saxon, but is taken as a prisoner of war at the age of 10 and raised as a Dane. The ninth century English were a pious bunch, with God being the strength behind ALL endeavors of the tribal kings. Contrast that with the Danes, who practice a spirituality through which all things are in the care of “god” or the gods. God is not found in a building or accessed through a priest, but is experienced through living life, communing with the land and people.
Of course this is a horribly violent time in history and I’m not convinced on either side whether violence is ever the answer. The English kill in god’s name and the Danes kill as an extension to living fully.
I digress. Of particular interest to me is the ever present struggle in the main character. He is for all practical purposes Danish, but by blood, he is English. So he is being pulled by both worlds and both views of spirituality. I resonate deeply with his Danish upbringing and the freedom of spirit and spirituality, as well as the tugging of those around me who think I should be “following god,” not the hethens.
What I find is that the certainty of my fundamental upbringing is no longer present, and I’m perfectly okay with that. I don’t however think that my conservative family and friends are in any way okay with leaning into uncertainty. They are in fact (at least it seems this way) trying to bring us back into their own false sense of security.
I for one, prefer to engage fully with life. I haven’t made it there yet, but I am on the journey. Perhaps that’s the whole of it, a journey. As for the certainty that once existed, I wouldn’t trade it for the place we are now, no way in hell (if there even is such a place). I choose life and all it has to offer.