Defence Of Purity

Mennonite

A recent entertainment article in the newspaper described an upcoming series on CBC-TV, titled ‘Pure’, where some Mexican Mennonites, travelling through the US and into Canada, smuggled drugs. The usual suspects were horrified – aghast, and complained. I replied, with information taken from A World Lit Only By Fire!

a world lit only by fire

In his Jan. 25th letter, Social Injustice, Harold Robertson tries to defend Mennonites from an accusation of drug smuggling, in the upcoming CBC-TV show Pure.

He naively asked, ”What next, a brothel full of nuns?” In Martin Luther’s time, that was only one of the sins of the Church and its leaders that he nailed to the door. While still called convents, there were many brothels full of nuns. They funnelled an immense amount of wealth to the Church.

There were also lots of brothels without nuns. The Vatican alone supported three, nearby. People with the surname Pope had ancestors who were illegitimate Papal offspring.

Despite what we like to believe, there are many times when not all religious figures are Holy and Pure.

***

In another paper the same week, there were two articles, one in Lifestyle, and one in the Religion section, both bemoaning the fact that attendance at almost all Christian Churches continues to decline. The only exceptions seem to be the Fundamentalist, Westboro Baptist-type churches, where they preach Hell-Fire and Brimstone, Biblical Literalism.

Some of the Protestant leaders got together and discussed the advisability of trying to attract more followers, by ‘giving the people what they want’, and abandoning the open, loving, acceptant type of Christianity.

I see at least two things wrong with this approach. First, there is hopefully, only a small percentage of intolerant, redneck-type church-goers who want this inflammatory rhetoric, to buttress their bigotry.  The pie is only so big.  Few new ‘believers’ would be created.  The slices would just get smaller, and it would drive away the few moderates still attending.

Secondly, if you truly believed in logic and science, and a loving, caring God, and populace, but are willing to so radically change your stance, you are doing so for hypocritical power and wealth reasons.

You don’t care about the soul salvation, or social support of your parishioners. You only care about bums in the pews, and a continued flow of money into your church, and your paycheck.

At least, that’s what this old non-believer believes!   😯

Book Review #11

a world lit only by fire

Title: A World Lit Only By Fire

Author: William Manchester

When I published my Torture of Faith post, my well-read and well-respected visitor, Jim Wheeler, suggested the above book as background reference reading, to explain the historical era.

As too often happens, I whined and wheedled. My library didn’t have a copy that I could borrow for free.  The nearby Chapters bookstores didn’t have a copy in stock.  I could order one, but objected to actually paying for it.  Jim sensibly reminded me that I had obtained the copy of Malleus Malificarum(Wiki link) thru Inter-Library Loan; I could do the same with this one.

The book eventually arrived, not from the gigantic Toronto Library system, but from the King Township Public Library – Nobleton branch. King Township is part of what is known as the Holland Marsh, the most fertile part of Southern Ontario, north of Toronto.  Nobleton is a town of 4000 located within it.  Why this rural area would have a copy of this book, when the metropolis doesn’t, is a mystery.

I was in love with it before I even got through the introduction. It introduced me to the word ‘catenas’, which are things or occurrences that lead inevitably, like links in a chain, from one to the next.  Like the chain they describe, I linked it to two other words I already knew, ‘catenary’ which describes the shape of a free-hanging chain, (Think McDonalds Golden Arches – or the St. Louis arch.) and ‘concatenation’, which is the formation of a chain of events.  I know!  There’s only two people in the world who give a shit about this verbal trivia – and I’m both of them.

This book describes Europe from about 1500 to 1550, just at the end of the Dark Ages, and the beginning of the Renaissance. Martin Luther and Henry the Eighth both split from The Church, and it was losing control, and its collective mind.  Catholics tortured and burned Protestants at the stake.  Protestants tortured and burned Catholics.

This book should be required reading for all the blindly-believing ‘Good Christians’, especially Catholics. It describes over two hundred years of some of the most sinful, licentious behaviour of The Church, from the local priests, right up to the Archbishops and Pope.  The Church was operated for the benefit of the religious leaders.

Tithe money bought opulent palaces and jewels and extravagant clothing – and wars to conquer countries to wring more money from. While thousands starved in the fields, the Pope threw lavish, drunken parties.

Sex was a competitive sport. The Vatican supported two whorehouses, which explains people with the name Pope.  They are descendants of bastard sons.  Many convents operated as brothels, funneling money from the nobility and rich merchants into The Church.

Positions in The Church were bought and sold, so that the buyers could gain more power and income. Several Popes simply appointed friends and relatives.  One Pope made Bishops of two young nephews who had absolutely no religious training.  Indulgences were handed out like Halloween candy.  If you gave The Church enough gold, you could commit any act, and still go to Heaven.

I’ve run into most of this information piecemeal, but it was both pleasant and disturbing to see it all laid out in an all-you-can-sin buffet. The religiously-naive would be horrified to see the quiet, historical listings of all the mistakes of the ‘Infallible’ Popes, the changes in the ‘unchanging’ Catholic Church, and the gamut of sins of all the ‘Holy, Sanctified’ religious leaders.

Until this time, many rulers, both religious and nobility, were illiterate and ignorant – and proud of it. Peasants knew only what they were told. Even the elite were only vaguely aware of occurrences at any distance, and days, weeks, months after they occurred.  After Gutenberg perfected the printing press, more people learned to read, and knowledge began flowing – the beginning of the end for the Church’s control.

The Church had invented Purgatory as an extortion racket. It all came to a head when one Pope wanted money to wage yet another war.  The selling-indulgences scheme had folded faster than a Kardashian at a spelling bee, so the Pope announced that, for those who ‘donated’ enough gold, time spent in purgatory by relatives could be reduced or eliminated by his prayers.

The now widely-read Martin Luther published a tract questioning if that were true, and asking why the Pope wouldn’t do so merely for the sake of supposedly good Christian souls and their obedient kin still here on Earth, and not for the money, “like some brazen harlot”.

While it could still use some updating and improvement, the Catholic Church is a thousand times better today than it was five hundred years ago. If you’d like a look at a time when peasants were regarded as worth less than the animals they kept, and society was run to wretched excess by hypocritical, entitled rulers, both secular and religious, this would be an enlightening book.   😯

The Red Phone

Red Phone

Once upon a time, there was a simple and little Hindu priest who lived in Mathura, India. One time he had the chance to go visit the Pope at the Vatican in Italy. After traveling to the Vatican, he walked up the steps and through the halls of the opulent building where the Pope stayed. He looked in awe at the beautiful marble floors and majestic columns.

Then he came into the Pope’s office and greeted the Pope who was seated behind his desk. The little Hindu priest sat nearby and they exchanged pleasantries. Then he noticed a red phone sitting at the end of the desk, so he asked what it was.

“Oh, that’s my hotline to God,” replied the Pope. “Whenever things get too difficult and I need to have a personal talk with God, I give Him a call.” “Oh,” said the priest. “Would you mind if I tried it?” “No, not at all,” the Pope responded.

So the little Hindu priest picked up the phone, dialed the number, and sure enough, he got through to God. He offered his respects and prayers, said he was very happy to talk to Him, and then hung up the phone after only five minutes.

He was a simple priest and did not have much more to say to God. He then thanked the Pope for the privilege of using the special red phone. The Pope replied, “Oh that is quite all right. By the way, that will be €75.”

“Seventy-five Euros?” inquired the Hindu priest. “Oh yes,” said the Pope. “For long distance charges. It’s a long way from here to God, you know.” So the priest pulled out his wallet and gave the Pope the seventy-five Euros.

Several months later, the Pope had the opportunity to visit India, and it was arranged for him to come to Mathura and visit the little Hindu priest. So the Pope approached the little hut of the Hindu priest, ducking his head as he walked through the door. He sat in a chair in front of the little table where the Hindu priest was pleased to again meet the Pope.

They exchanged greetings, when the Pope noticed the same kind of red phone on the priest’s table as he had at the Vatican. So the Pope asked what that was. “Why, I also have a hotline to God,” replied the Hindu priest. “Do you mind if I use it?” asked the Pope. “I really have a lot on my mind.” “Please do,” responded the priest.

So the Pope got on the phone and got a good connection and managed to get through to God. He offered his prayers, but then had many things to discuss. He talked about the trouble in the Vatican, the difficulties with the priests and legal charges in the United States, the changing attitudes of the congregation in England and Europe, and so on. Fifteen minutes went by, then a half-hour, then finally, after nearly an hour, he was able to put the phone down.

Then he said, “Thank you very much. I feel a lot better now. I had so much to talk about. By the way, how much will that be?” The Hindu priest thought a moment and then said, “Two rupees.” “What,” the Pope replied, surprised at how inexpensive it was. “Why so cheap?” “Why don’t you know?” asked the little Hindu priest. “Here it is a local call.”

 

 

Flash Fiction #44

Deathtrap

© Lauren Moscato

Watch That First Step

“Dey say dissa new, Pope Frank”…..

“Pope Francis!  Avva sum respeck, eh!?”

“Dey say heeza nice guy, a manna da peepul. Dey say he goze owt onna street at night, anna help da homeless.”

“Uh huh!”

“He doan like da fancy cloze, an he doan stay at da Vatican.  He live in some ratty hotel.  Heeze ‘sposed ta wave at alla da peepul from da balcony at St. Peter Basilica.  What he gonna do when dey all show up outside hiz hotel window?”

“Doan wurry about dat.  I got sum material an toolz, an datz all bin tooken care of.

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.