Sometimes I think they should rename the “History Channel” the “Crackpot Theory Channel”. It seems they spend as much time advancing some crazy theory as they do giving mainstream historical fact.
To wit, last night I found myself watching a couple of shows on the Knights Templar. My goodness, if there’s anything that brings out the kooks, it’s the Templars. Thanks, Dan Brown. The latest theory is that at some point in the 14th century, the Templars made their way to the United States and to Minnesota in particular, where they set up a claim to the whole Mississippi River watershed, if you can believe it. I can’t. The show even intimated that the expedition brought the Holy Grail with them to be hidden somewhere in the midwestern US. No matter how farfetched or crazy the claim, the show considered it equally.
Now, I’m not going to say that there weren’t European visitors to North America prior to Columbus or even that they weren’t Templars. But the shows failed on such basic matters of fact that nothing they said could be trusted. For instance, they claimed that only the Templars constructed churches using “sacred geometry” to orient the buildings to take advantage of light from solstices and things. But nearly every culture in history has known how to do this, including the Catholic Church.
Or the mysterious Oak Island treasure pit. I heard about this booby trapped pit when I was a kid and then it was called a pirate treasure. Wikipedia gives a laundry list of other theories with the Templars being just one of the bunch. It could even be just a natural phenomenon. Yet the show made it seem as if the Templar theory was the main possibility.
They even go so far as to claim that after their suppression, the Templars fled to Scotland, became Freemasons, and the Freemasons set up the United States as the Templars’ New Jerusalem, going so far as to enshrine separation of church and state as a blow against the Catholic Church that suppressed them. Yes, some of the founding fathers were Masons and, yes, the Templars may have influenced the Masons, but it’s not nearly as clear of a lineage and connection as they claim.
Too many History Channel shows are like this, especially when it comes to anything related to Christianity. The more a theory undermines the accepted orthodoxy, the better, and the crackpots are presented alongside the mainstream as if they were equal. And so the average TV viewer, who isn’t equipped to know better, thinks this is the scholarly understanding.
So who is there to correct the craziness?
Photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton under a Creative Commons license.