The Torture Of Faith

(Not too) recently, I read of Boko Haram, or ISIS, torturing 23 young children to death. I don’t know what menace six-year-olds can be, to bullies armed with AK-47s. If you feel the kids must die, at least do it quickly and cleanly. Afford them the dignity that you lack.

On the same day, a television station reran the movie, The DaVinci Code, in which a character slams down a copy of Malleus Maleficarum (Witches’ Hammer), a handbook The Inquisition used, to torture and burn thousands of innocents, most of them women.

Malleus Maleficarum

I had to read this thing, so I contacted my library. They didn’t have a copy, but obtained one for me on inter-library loan, from Toronto. The book was originally written in 1647, and I got a 40 year old paperback version, identical to the one in the movie, if more used and worn. It was composed about the same time as the King James Bible, full of ‘thee and thou’. It was a struggle to get through it in the 3-week loan period, but I managed.

The subtitle should have been, “How To Inflict Excruciating Pain For Fun And Profit.” The Church seized all property of those found guilty. Some Inquisitors skimmed a bit off for themselves, while others merely benefited through the enrichment of their organization.

I opened it up and started reading. Immediately, the lies, hypocrisy, mistaken assumptions and unprovable claims began. On page 1, clear as crystal, it said, “Magic exists. It was created by God in the beginning with all else, but He does not wish mankind to use it. Anyone who practices magic, allies with Satan.”

On page 3, just as clearly, it said, “Magic does not exist. It is merely apparent, only believed to exist by the faithful.” On page 5, the yo-yo now claimed that, “Magic does exist, but its effects are ephemeral and transient. If ignored, soon all will return to God’s intended state.”

I don’t know who the book was intended to convince, the writer, the commoners, from whom unfortunate victims were plucked, The Church/Pope, or the secular Royalty. Presumption of innocence just didn’t exist. “Hang ‘the witch’ by her thumbs for a day.” She’s already been convicted, but the ritual must be observed, so that ‘legal’ confiscation can proceed.

“If a Dark Witch do evil by Black Magic, find a White Witch to reverse the spell – then quickly burn them both to death.” “Have the Witch’s friends to tell her that if she confesses her sins, you will be merciful. If this does not avail, tell the Witch yourself that you will be merciful – holding in mind that you will be merciful unto The Church and the King, from whom you hold obedience and loyalty.” No lie was too big, or too devious.

The Catholic Church even had the temerity to declare, “No-one convicted of heresy by The Inquisition, was later found to be innocent.” largely because any friend or relative who protested, was subjected to the same torture and execution.

“Ask the witch why she does not cry for her sins. Watch carefully to see that she does not use spittle to wet her cheeks.” She did not cry for her sins, because she committed none, and modern science knows that a body under stress cannot cry.

You might think that a person in agony might choose quick death to end the prolonged torment, but even here, The Inquisition cheated. If you confessed, you had to swear to God that your confession was true. Anyone lying to God was sent to Hell, so Inquisitors were granted more time to play their sick games. An innocent person was believed protected from pain by faith in God. That worked so well in everyday life.

For anyone who wants to play the No True Scotsman game, and claim that these were not ‘real Christians’ or ‘Good Catholics’ – during the worst of the Inquisition, a Bishop went from city to city, marking down the ingenious ways the locals had of inflicting pain. The book was copied and sent back to the various areas, so that others could benefit. When this was done, the Bishop traveled to Rome, and the Pope blessed both him and his vile book.

A Scottish sea captain delivered a cargo to Madrid. While he was on the streets, looking for another cargo, he was snatched and imprisoned. He was held for three days without food or water. He was flogged, and stretched on the rack. Joints and bones in his hands and feet were broken. He was seared with red-hot irons, and cut with knives. Pieces of skin and flesh were torn off his body, and finally he was subjected to the medieval equivalent of water-boarding.

When he managed to survive all these indignities, he was thrown, naked and broken, back out onto the street. No questions were asked. No accusations were made. No confession was extracted. These Dominican Servants of God merely wanted the practice.

A king of Sweden wished to marry a particular lady, but the court advisors were against his choice. Perhaps they felt her virtue was questionable, or maybe they knew that she would undermine their influence with the king. They claimed that she was a witch, who had ensorcelled his mind, and demanded that she be ‘Put To The Question.’ (Tortured)

This was usually enough to make someone back off, but she and the King persisted. The test was to grasp a red-hot iron bar in both hands, and walk three measured paces. It was reported that she took the three paces, stopped, took another three paces, and demanded, “Is there more you would have me do?”

Cynical me sees gold changing hands, the castle torturer being told that he might become a customer of his replacement, and the recording priest reminded that he could suffer a fatal accident. Or maybe they both just loved the king and his lady, and hated the devious courtiers. The lady became Queen Gertrude, and almost everyone lived happily ever after.

A hundred years later, Swedes were so taken by the story of the virtuous maid, protected from pain and evil by God, that it was declared a miracle, and she became Saint Gertrude. Oy! 😳


23 thoughts on “The Torture Of Faith

  1. Dale says:

    Quite the read you undertook and then, quite the read you gave us! Wha cruel and savage beings have existed through the ages, justifying themselves by the writings of others, interpreted as desired…

    I love your writing style, Grumpy Old Dude!


  2. BrainRants says:

    What we humans do in the name(s) of our belief(s) is why I have no interest in church, or at least a major reason. I’m guessing, though, that your unfortunate Scot snatched off the street and tortured probably shrugged it off and said, “Aye, bit uncomfortable, that.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems to me that only a witch could walk the 3 paces while holdings a red-hot poker, but then I wasn’t there.

    Apparently, there’s no end to the ways human beings can torture each other. Even today.

    Good post, Archon.


    • Archon's Den says:

      Exactly! Just another example of forked-tongue hypocrisy. These people haven’t gone away. Nowadays they’ve become spin-doctors, and the torture is to have to listen to them justify Donald Trump’s position on Negroes and Chicanos. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jim Wheeler says:

    I am not surprised. One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read was a short one written by William Manchester about the middle ages. Titled A World Lit Only By Fire, it was a little project he meant to occupy himself while recovering from an illness. It turned into a seminal work.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I got to read the first chapter as a sample. The local library doesn’t have a copy. Chapters does, but in a store 75 miles away. I could have it shipped, but it’s a bit expensive for casual research. Perhaps as a birthday or Christmas present. 🙂


      • Jim Wheeler says:

        I’m not sure about Canadian libraries but down here a library will honor a request to obtain any book from another library. It’s called an “inter-library loan.” You might ask.

        You may note that the first reviews Amazon provides on Manchester’s book are not kind as to its scholarly aspects. I don’t agree with them and I suspect the negativity derives from how severely critical it is of religion in ruling the world in those times. The work has 6 pages of bibliography.

        I might also mention that, in addition to the the revealing aspects of the medieval world, the book contains a section on what Magellan’s voyage was really like.


      • Archon's Den says:

        Inter-library loan is how I got the copy of Malleus Maleficarum. I have little to lose, and an interesting book to gain. I’ll give it a go. You shouldn’t have had to remind me, but thanx that you did. 🙂


  5. aFrankAngle says:

    I’m impressed that you took the time to read something so old … and deal with the torture of the language of the time.


  6. Marie Keates says:

    Seems to me we’d be better off without religion of any kind. None of them can claim to be whiter than white.


    • Archon's Den says:

      Actually, almost all of them claim a great many things – whiter than white, holier than thou. 😯 When you ask them to prove any of it, they just claim, “It’s there in the Bible/Koran/Talmud.” 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  7. paulaacton says:

    There are so many ways in which this was used for greed and gain, a paranoid king that altered the bible to justify his own beliefs and used this book to enforce conversion to the faith. Many of the small country hamlets still held to pagan beliefs and this book was used to force a departure from the old ways and into the ‘new’ church which of course also took from it’s congregation You might find this interesting


    • Archon's Den says:

      Thanx for the link. I’ll work my way through it as I have the time. You seem to have done even more research on this than I have. It is a sad and depressing subject, full of lies and mistakes, evident to all but the ‘Good Christians’ who make them. 😳


  8. […] in my post on torture, you could be snatched off the street, or from your home, at any time, for any reason – or none. […]


  9. […] the Catholic Church hierarchy (They were often the same thing.), and justifies claims I made in my The Torture Of Faith […]


  10. […] I published my Torture of Faith post, my well-read and well-respected visitor, Jim Wheeler, suggested the above book as background […]


  11. […] time ago, I published a post about how The Church, at the beginning of the Renaissance, made torture a competitive sport, […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s