Although Intelligent Designing for Amateurs has been available in the UK for a couple of weeks now, this is official release day, and amazon.com will now let you get paper copies. http://www.amazon.com/Intelligent-Designing-Amateurs-Nimue-Brown/dp/1780999526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369989320&sr=8-1&keywords=intelligent+designing+for+amateurs (and just to confuse everyone, is now saying the release date was the 16th May. Go figure!)
Just to tempt you a bit, here’s one of the bits that owes a lot to revival Druids. It was whilst reading Ronald Hutton’s ‘Blood and Mistletoe’ that it occurred to me that actual history of revival Druidry seems a lot like a Monty Python sketch, with the costumes, titles, claims of ancientness. Which led me to this…
The parlour was overfull of familiar and overdressed women when Justina and her mother were shown in. She looked around despondently, taking in the grotesque excess of decoration on women far too old to carry such girlish extravagance. They clucked and preened like so many hens, the bulk of their skirts filling up the spaces between closely packed items of furniture. Why it was felt desirable to squeeze so many warmly dressed people into such a confined space, Justina had never understood. It was one of the features of her life that had greatly hampered her social development – she simply did not enjoy being pressed against a large number of other people in the confines of heavily furnished rooms.
A gentleman with exceptional moustaches leapt at once to his feet. He appeared to be wearing a white night gown with rather elaborate embroidery at the collar and cuffs. Seeing him only increased the terrible urge she had been feeling to scream, and run away. Before she could plan an escape, Mrs. Easlefeet hurried forwards to make introductions.
“Ah, my dear, my dear, I must present this young lady to you,” she began.
Justina loathed her for that. The person of greater social status was asked first, and she could not, possibly, be of lesser consideration than a man who went about in public in a nightgown?
“This is Justina Fairfax, dear Elizobella’s daughter. Justina, this is none other than the ArchDruid Henry Caractacus Morestrop Jones!”
As Mrs. Easelfeet continued with an incomprehensible list of further titles, ArchDruid Henry indulged in some complex hand maneuvering and offered her his services.
“Founder of the Brotherhood of Restrained Enlightenment, and current leader of the Truly Venerable Order of English Druids,” he added.
Justina took a few careful steps backwards whilst saying, “How charming.” She had only encountered Druids once before, at a meeting of the Society of Archaeology an Antiquities. A lecture about whether the Romans might have constructed on Stonehenge had been disrupted by a man, dressed entirely in clothes made from the skins of very small mammals. He had entered without invitation, stood upon a table, waved a sword about and made a wholly unfathomable speech about classical geometry at ancient sites.
Just as she as paused to flee this current scene of dismay, Mrs Fairfax commenced exalting Justina’s many virtues as an antiquarian scholar. With her reputation the new topic of conversation, escape seemed less appealing.
“I myself have a great interest in the ancient times,” the strangely dressed man announced. He had the kind of voice that would even whisper loudly. “The Truly Venerable Order of English Druids has written records going back to before even the Roman invasion. Our oldest manuscripts are known to be the work of Taliesin himself.”
He paused, and Justina knew she was supposed to be impressed by his claims. Certainly such documents had the power to re-write English history, and that made her very suspicious. It was amazing how many bored gentlemen and obscure vicars turned out to have ancient manuscripts stashed in their attics.