The clash between Islam and the Western world is as old as Islam itself, but perhaps as misunderstood as any great historical conflict. In what is sure to shed light on this timely topic, worldwide Catholic satellite network EWTN will air special television episodes this coming week.
As the Islamist radical group ISIS rampages through Christian and other minority religious communities from Syria to Iraq–killing, raping, driving out inhabitants, and wantonly destroying holy sites–the West seems paralyzed and reluctant to retaliate against Muslim aggressors.
But in the Middle Ages, kings and knights of Christendom set forth to push back against the inroads of Islamic forces into majority Christian areas in the Holy Land and beyond. Once considered a noble, if ultimately failed, campaign to make sacred sites safe for Christian pilgrims, over the last century or so, the Crusades have gradually become recast as an imperialist surge against peaceful people.
Like many notions currently promulgated by academia and the media, it’s a near-reversal of what actually happened over the course of centuries. As with any great human endeavor, the Crusades had their share of stupidity, brutality, greed, and misadventure, but that is only a piece of the whole story.
And of all the people asked to comment on the Crusades–from scholars to reporters to filmmakers to novelists to activists–one group seldom allowed to have its say is the Catholic Church, whose history is inextricably linked with that of the Crusades.
From October 8-11, at 10 p.m. (ET) each night, EWTN presents The Crusades, a four-part series shot on location in seven countries (Turkey, Israel, France, Austria, England, Spain, and Slovakia). Described at the EWTN blog as “a well-rounded understanding of an important historical event,” each episode features original dramatizations, original music recorded in Europe, and commentary from historians specializing in the period.
These historians are Professor Jonathan Phillips, professor of Crusading History at Royal Holloway, University of London; Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith of Cambridge University, one of Britain’s leading experts on the Crusades; and Professor Thomas F. Madden, chair of the Department of History at St. Louis University, who not only focuses on the Crusades but on the larger issue of the Christian-Muslim conflict.
Preceding the premiere on Wednesday, October 8, airing at 8 p.m. ET is a special episode of EWTN Live, with EWTN staffer and Middle Eastern scholar Father Mitch Pacwa interviewing Stefano Mazzeo, writer, producer, and host of The Crusades, and Madden, author of A Concise History of the Crusades.
In advance of this, on Sunday, October 5, at 10 p.m. ET, EWTN airs Franciscan University Presents Myths About the Crusades, with commentary from Dr. Paul Crawford, professor of medieval history at California University of Pennsylvania (located in the Pennsylvania town of California, near Pittsburgh), along with host Michael Hernon and panelists Dr. Regis Martin, professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio), and Catholic convert and theologian Dr. Scott Hahn.
EWTN is widely available on satellite and cable systems, but it can also be watched live online at EWTN.com.