Wednesday, 19 March 2014

16th Century Protestant Iconoclasm

I've enjoyed watching the late-1960s BBC documentary series "Civilisation - A Personal View" by art historian Kenneth Clark (b.1903).

Episode 6 is about the Reformation.

Over photographs of broken stone images in Ely cathedral, Clark refers to the "instinct" (not religious reasoning) which drove Protestant iconoclasts to hack off the faces of the carved saints. He refers to their "instinct to destroy ... anything that reflected a state of mind that ignorant people couldn't share. The very existence of these incomprehensible values enraged them."

Human ferocity and violence is just under the surface, whatever people like Steven Pinker have to say about it.

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