While I’m leading a group at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival, I’m obviously not at my desk blogging. But through the wonders of technology, here’s something I prepared earlier!

This ten-minute video is a fast and furious foray into the history of the Crusades, which is probably overwhelming if you don’t have any previous knowledge of the subject.

Its greatest strength, though, isn’t its fact and figures, or even its oddball humour, but its underlying and frequently repeated premise: the study of history exposes us to cultures and ideas different to our own. To judge those cultures and ideas by our own cultural and philosophical standards is anachronistic, arrogant, and foolish.

That doesn’t mean that we have to embrace a moral or philosophical relativism. It just means we need to take the contemporaneous claims of historical figures seriously, and not rationalise them through an ideological hermeneutic. I didn’t study a lot of history at university, but the little history I did study was impaired by this very error, typically incorporating a soft-Marxist revisionism.

If I’ve lost you, just watch the video. Even despite its pace, it probably makes a lot more sense than I do.