Often programs spout poor scholarship, blatant lies and historical inaccuracies, for example, a recent History channel documentary about Mary Magdalene which paints Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code as truth and the gnostic gospels as the indisputable evidence of a secret love affair.
Apparently there was a conspiracy of the "orthodox church" to keep these gnostic gospels out, yet they do not mention the glaring inconsistencies of these gnostic gospels nor the lack of manuscript evidence – both factors at play for the church's rejection of them.
Refreshingly it is not the same with Vikings, alternatively titled (at least in my mind): The Epic Adventures of Ragnar and Rollo, The Pillaging or How to Train Your Christian Monk. Vikings stays true to source material in a way that should make the creators of the new Noah movie envious.
Pagan darkness vs Christian light
In the show, the token Christian character – a monk named Althestan (Brit-born George Blagden) was introduced in the second episode when Ragnar (the title character, played by Aussie Travis Fimmel) found him cowering with his Bible in hand at the monastery they raided.
In the scene, Ragnar is amazed to see him clinging to the weathered book as if it's his lifeline. He rounds on Althestan threateningly. "Of all the treasures I see in this place, you chose to save this."
"Yes," confirms the monk.
"Why?" And then Ragnar demands it of him more forcefully unable to see the reason behind it. "Why?!"
"Because without the word of God, there is only darkness."
And the show carries through with that truth, as it is later when Althestan's Bible is burnt to an unreadable crisp that he finally starts embracing the darkness of the pagan ways. We get to see what Althestan becomes without the word of God.
Christian purity portrayed as a real virtue
The struggles of the monk Althestan during the first season of Vikings were relatable for Christians. The struggle to remain pure was first addressed in the third episode with the harrowing scene that you just want to look away from, when Ragnar and his wife Lagertha offer to take the Christian monk to bed with them.
"I have taken a vow of celibacy. I cannot touch a woman," explains Althestan as he rejects their offer.
"Wouldn't you like to?" Ragnar asks after some seductive looks aimed at the monk from his wife.
"It would be a sin."
"Who would know?"
"God would know," Althestan says quietly.
"Sleep then with your God," mocks Ragnar leaving the monk alone to go back bed with his wife.
Biblical parallels abound
There is an additional struggle for Althestan at how God could allow for a band of Vikings to come in and destroy a whole community of His people, people obedient to God. This culminated until the poignant moment where Althestan denied Christ three times (reminiscent of Saint Peter's famous denial) but held onto his cross as a symbol of fidelity to the one true God – something which saved him from being sacrificed to the pagan gods of the Vikings.
Now within the second season of Vikings we see Althestan's further struggles between adjusting to the lifestyle of those dastardly pagans and coming up against wicked "Christian" kings. There's also been another biblical parallel for Althestan this time not of Peter but of Christ Himself when the monk faced crucifixion. And [SPOILER ALERT] with the final episode this season titled "The Lord's Prayer" we're bound to see more of Christianity and Pagan culture coming to heads and how it affects the characters.
Dragons and political Christianity
The historical side of Christianising – playing out on screen the forced baptism of the hardened Viking Rollo as a political manoeuvre – is something not often addressed on television. How lip service to Jesus Christ is the modus operandi of those in power in the West and hypocritical it could be seen to those Pagan nations. That is the difference between people saying that they're from a "Christian nation" like Australia or that they're a born-again Christian. It needs to be emphasised more in media that these are not one in the same.
And they actually mention dragon slayings! None of that talk about how they must be delusional because dragons do not exist (as we tend to think in this modern age) but they treat it as a real occurrence.
Why does this matter? Because dragon slayings fit in with what the Bible says about the co-existence at one time of men and great beasts that we today call dinosaurs. Although the Vikings have their gods and their traditions, they can separate supernatural tales from reality and assert the existence of dragons/dinosaurs to be in reality.
The show plays on SBS and the History channel in Australia, if you can handle the sexual situations and gore. It's worth a look-see if you're interested in Vikings, pagan VS Christian warring or securing for yourself a worthy place in Valhalla.
Bridget Brenton has been researching apologetics, philosophy and the paranormal for years. You can check her apologetic effort out at 101arguments.com
Bridget Brenton's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/bridget-brenton.html