A few weeks ago, I discovered, through some e-mails and blog posts, that Crosswalk.com had on their website a piece on Beowulf called "Beowulf: Fact or Fiction?" The article seeks to argue that Beowulf is an historically accurate account, and furthermore that Grendel is a dinosaur who somehow survived into the early medieval days -- an apparent attempt to bolster creationism through the poem (I'm still not clear on how it does that, but no matter). The best that can be said about the piece is that it tries really hard, and that the author may have been misled by a book called After the Flood, which I've not read.
As a medievalist and a Christian, I found the article embarrassing. It was being cited in some rather bigoted e-mails and posts as just the kind of stupid thing those idiotic Christians think. I sent a very polite e-mail to Crosswalk, identifying myself as a medieval scholar and a Christian, and pleading with them to remove the article. I explained in as much detail as their "Contact Us" pop-up box would allow why the article was wrong.
I have not received a response, nor has the article come down. After a week went by without Crosswalk removing the article or contacting me, I began warning Christians and homeschoolers that Crosswalk was not a reliable resource. I discussed it with my Sunday School class*, talked with some people I know who homeschool about where they got their materials (I found none who used Crosswalk, incidentally), etc.
I felt I had done my part -- I had warned Crosswalk, and when they showed no interest in heeding my warnings about the flawed article, I warned Christians. I guess I did not do enough, though.
Even now, links and discussions of it are flying across the internet ether. Everytime I check my e-mail I find there are several more comments on the AnSaxNet e-mail list. Some of the comments are of the benign eye-rolling variety, while others are exercises in bigotry carried on in high dudgeon. The few temperate voices are shouted down (which is why I'll not bother posting this to AnSaxNet).
The real shame on medievalists, though is not that we have hateful ideologues among us -- heck, I'm hard-pressed to think of a group that doesn't -- the real shame is that, so far as I can tell, no one else has bothered to correct the article in a public forum. If anyone has e-mailed Crosswalk as I did, they haven't mentioned it. Since my e-mail, Crosswalk has opened up a forum to discuss it. At the moment, only one person who may be a medievalist (and I'm not sure if it is a professional medievalist or just a well-informed person), "Timo888," has bothered to post any kind of correction.
So rather than trying to correct misconceptions, we medievalists would rather sit back in our enclosed professional forums and mock the ignorant. Shame on all of us, and if you are a medievalist without the moral or scholarly clarity to understand why you should be ashamed, I am embarrassed for you.
*Yes, I teach adult Sunday School ... at an evangelical church, no less (a non-denominational Christian church, a.k.a. a "Stone-Campbell" church here in the South). No doubt many of those who have been describing Christians as evil ignoramuses will be horrified that I am gainfully employed even while carrying on these nefarious weekend activities. Those who live in the Montgomery area, horrified or not, are welcome to join our class Sundays at 9:30, at the Cornerstone Christian Church, where you can be corrupted by Christian thought and occasional Krispy Kream doughnuts.