'What, then, was the appeal of Christianity to people whose lives were nasty, brutish, and short; people who had institutionalized war and revenge; people who had pitifully inadequate resources against disease? The brief answer must be that Christianity offered all kinds of culture and literacy, an alternative ethic and authority for life, help for life's difficulties and hope for what was beyond.'Click for footnote

The importance of this last point can also be seen from the argument of a noble at a discussion about the new religion at King Edwin's court, a key scene in Bede's account in his Ecclesiastical History:
'This is how the present life of man on earth, King, appears to me in comparison with that time which is unkown to us. You are sitting feasting with your ealdormen and thegns in winter time; the fire is burning on the hearth in the middle of the hall and all inside is warm, while outside the wintry storms of rain and snow are raging; and a sparrow flies swiftly through the hall. It enters in at one door and quickly flies out through the other. For the few moments it is inside, the storm and wintry tempest cannot touch it, but after the briefest moment of calm, it flits from your sight, out of the wintry storm and into it again. So this life of man appears but for a moment; what follows or indeed what went before, we know not at all. If this new doctrine brings us more certain information, it seems right that we should accept it.'Click for footnote

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