Listening to the Past
Listening to the Past was written by Gregory, bishop of Tours, as part of the history of the Franks. In particular, this was the story of how a certain chieftain named Clovis was persuaded to convert to Christianity after getting proof of God’s greatness and might.
The event described in the text has happened, according to the source a century before it was written. Given the length of time for the event to be written about, it could be assumed that there are additions and omissions in the story. In any story telling, the audience or reader is more fascinated when the events are exaggerated. While I believe the conversion of Clovis and his people were true, I’m a little doubtful at how the events happened. For instance, when Clovis was about to be beaten, he asked God to let him drive away his enemies, and in turn, he’ll believe him. True enough, the enemies began to retreat and Clovis won his battle. This was rather too simple to be believable. What probably happened was, after praying earnestly, Clovis had found new strength and was able to inspire his men to fight ferociously, leading to the defeat of their enemies.
The author, being a Christian bishop, appears to want to present God as the magnificent and the most powerful in the universe. By simplifying events, Bishop Gregory made the story sound like it could happen any day to anyone. Another instance when the author simplified events is when Clovis found his men, without his urgings, shouting to get converted. Also, when the author wrote this story, it seems like he wanted to convince more people to embrace Christianity and leave their pagan ways.
The author’s message in this story is likely this: that if you believe in God, no problem or dilemma is so big that it can’t be solved. That if you have faith, everything would become simple.