Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Religious Rigidity like a Curling Stone. Takes Hordes of Sweepers. Fall of Montsegur; Western Lethal Intolerance

Riddle: How is Religious Rigidity Like a Curling Stone
Does it matter, whether East or West?

Montsegur, that great last bastion of the Cathars doomed as heretic by the medieval Roman Catholic Christian Church who wanted all the Cathar lands and treasure and domination of the religion itself,  fell in March 1244.  Compare to curling:  a peaceful, tolerant Christian group, in the path of the Great Stone of the Church, the Great Rock, and its leagues of sweepers keeping its momentum going.

Did that style, the straight line plus enforcers, fix lethal intolerance in the Western religious and political mind. See how effective is force, compelled conformity on pain of death. Much better than mere preaching, modeling behavior.  Win, Church, win!  So do we apply the chosen way thereafter, regardless of contrary merit, rationality, mutual benefits of co-existence with those of differing minds.

The drive to suppress autonomy is like the course of a curling stone -- it just keeps going of its own mass, pun, and with the aid of sweepers. See rules at http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/curling-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html/  Deflect the sweepers, re-convert them, and perhaps the stone will slow. Should it? Is the course of the curling stone like, as Frank Bruni suggests, a curse. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/bruni-catholicisms-curse.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Course or curse. The course of the curling stone;  or the curse of the curling stone.

 I.  The Fall of Montsegur - March 1244.  The weight of the Papal Albigensian Crusades won by crude force, not merit or rationality. The Christian Cathars had applied equally meritorious interpretations of old texts. In a time (like ours) of Fixed Belief, that was heresy. So, they are evildoers, take their lands, their culture, their prosperity, and let us use it all for ourselves.

II.  Lessons of the Curling Stone:  The weighty on a fixed course will not veer, even if the course has no merit, no rationality; it can only be slowed, or allowed to slow. It would take another force from outside to knock it off. And that means war, suspending all rules, force against force, more of the same. Is there another way to coexistence, other than knocking off the Fixed ones?  Is patience weakness, or wisdom?

III.  History and Western Compelled Conformity.  The Papal Conclave

Tradition v. reform.  The great curling stone v those seeking another path.

I.  The Fall of Montsegur

This week in March marks the 769th anniversary of the Fall of Montsegur, in March 1244; and the burning of 205-255 of the devout who would not abjure their beliefs. Some 60 of those have been identified by name. Pope Innocent III's Albigensian Crusade lasted from 1208-09 until well after his death, until 1255. There had to be mop-up of those few Cathars or Albigensians left after Montsegur still hiding in caves and to be rooted out or walled in.  The Crusade against the Cathars had won:  it had reached its last major conflict point. The Cathar lands in Languedoc-Rousillion had been finally all confiscated, cash and lands to the Vatican (that soon moved to Avignon to better enforce its reign).  The Cathar Christians with their doctrinal differences, lost and the area would thereafter be uncontested as Roman Catholic in doctrine and bureaucracy, and so it was. The King of France, that little area to the north, was duly rewarded for his partnership with the Pope.

Montsegur.  This was the last of the major Cathar or Albigensian (named for the city of Albi) holdouts, a small fortress on a mountaintop, fighting for survival against the Roman Catholic Papal Crusade against them.  Pope Innocent III called for The Albigensian Crusade against Cathars as "heretics" in 1208, see  http://www.cathar.info/1206_crusade.htm. They followed many of the beliefs of one Arius, on technical conclusions about the nature of deity, son, etc.

The Cathars had been coexisting peacefully with other religious groups, and all prospering. Heresy? Look deeper. The Pope needed and wanted these prosperous lands, the King of the little area known as France to the north also wanted them, and so they partnered up. An age of Papal militance, and Papal armies. Heresy schmeresy.  Politics and warfare all the way.  See http://www.xenophongroup.com/montjoie/albigens.htmMontsegur, the 769th Anniversary of the Pyres, Albigensian Crusade, March 1244.

Montsegur has attracted many because of the combined mystique of courage, and steadfast adherence to autonomous belief even to the death, but not as a first resort.  Steadfastness is applied when there is no option left for co-existence.  Note the reference even to WWII nods to Montsegur on its 700th Anniversary, the Anniversary of the Pyres, see a chronology to WWII re Montsegur at Peter Vronsky, Montsequr and the Cathars. The irony there is that Cathars were a courteous, inclusive people -- paratge was the concept -- not ever bullies, imposing themselves. See http://www.midi-france.info/190403_paratge.htm/

Heresy? Many of the Cathar practices were then adopted by the Church. And heresy itself is only shorthand for compelled conformity to rules chosen from among other equally viable ones. Purpose? Get the land, get the riches of Languedoc-Rousillion, to fill the coffers of the militant Popes.  What an era.  This week, the second week in March, marks the final, grisly end of the Pope's crusade against Christians in the Languedoc, France. It began with the targeting of the Family St. Gilles, whose Counts of Toulouse had ruled this prosperous area, see http://www.midi-france.info/19_toulouse.htm
II.  Lessons of the Curling Stone

The great moving stone of orthodoxy as declared by Rome kept moving like a great curling champion rock, its sweepers smoothing the way so nothing would slow other than the mass of the great stone itself, and that condition of stopping could not be swept away.  Has the time of the great rock stopping arrived now, in Rome?  Is the great stone, slowing, and will reformers, dissenters, finally be able to speak.

How did the West become so lethally intolerant of dissent? What set the pattern. Can we shift mental gears, or is the mindset too entrenched.  The lesson of the curling stone is that weak reformers, militarily weak dissenters, despite merit and rationality, will lose.  The strength of the entrenched orthodoxy will run its course right over them.  If there is only merit to oppose the course of the stone, that will lose because the sweepers do not care about merit, only process.  So, bide. Reformers can choose to exert force against the existing force, but that leads to bloodlust in return.  For some, so be it. Let the blood flow. For others, stay with merit and rationality, and carve out some dissenters from the ranks of the Stone. Deflect the sweepers. 


III.  History - and the Papal Conclave

Western Christian tradition is filled to overflowing with institutional persecutions, Crusades, and Inquisitions against autonomous thinkers -- heretics, dissenters, any who do not buy a particular package.  The idea of heresy, disagreeing with a fixed package of beliefs demanded by the powerful, remains culturally well entrenched. And once found and applied, the dissenters, the reformers, lose big.

The stronger are entitled to win, yet if they do, that only proves strength, not merit. How to reinstate merit into the discussion. Is it possible to change the strong by rationality?  History says no. Power is like curling:  once the great stone is set in motion, the sweepers then must go out in front to smooth the path, and that is that. That is the rule. Get in the way of the sweepers, and you die.  Or are otherwise excluded.

Think back to earlier manifestations of the force that Western institutional box-thinkers, the force behind the moving stone, uses against dissenters.

As many watch the Papal Conclave at work to elect a successor to Pope Benedict, headlines tout a climate of traditionalists vs. reformers (again).  Omitted, however, is context: That those benign words shield a history of militance and killing by clerics whose dedication was to compelled conformity, not to weighing whether official entrenched interpretations were indeed merited.

The stone, once in motion, will be eased on its way by the sweepers, until it stops of its own.  Are we at that point?  Should the stone stop, and is that Peter's rock idea? should it be allowed to slow, slide away the sweepers, finally, now?

Moderation, or even reform, is difficult where militant followers of a package oppose change on fixed grounds of  a) sacrilege, or  b) a constitutional interpretation. For those inside and outside the fold,think outside the package as set before you, and you are heretic. Thought-control. And we can exclude, marginalize, take your dignity, your property (participants in the Albigensian Crusade could then take property confiscated from the heretical Cathars, see http://www.xenophongroup.com/montjoie/albigens.htm) and even your life from you.  If you are framed as an evildoer, we can do as we like with you and yours. FN 1


FN 1 The West traditionally has fostered no interest in inclusion of or recognition of the validity of any interpretation of the same body of texts other than the One that buttressed their ruling institution.  Neither has the West been willing to let preaching and modeling serve as the foundation for conversion to their chosen religion, as the Founder had shown the way.  No, there must be power plays, profits, and land, and overwhelm, and battles, and blood and armies. Onward Christian soldiers.  What? Now, there is a heresy.

 Accordingly, clerics framed reform efforts and alternate interpretations of the same texts as heresy.  Is that word now being bandied about at the Vatican, when Reformers want to open the Vatican books, the entire Library perhaps, the documentation of exploitation and abuses.  Heresy.  Use that trigger-word, and wholesale polarization and justification for killing "unbelievers" results.Evildoers. Use that and the same result ensues.

Unbelievers (the Evildoers of the day) included, in the Northern Crusades, many already converted to Christianity but by the Orthodox Christians, not the Roman.  In the Languedoc-Roussillion area of southern France, the Albigensian Crusade was hurled against those who were already Christian but who did not buy the Roman package. In the East, of course, are the more publicized Crusades, those centuries of rousing Western armies to do the impossible, and unjustifiable: take "back" the Holy Land.  This one set of Papal views were then buttressed, bootstrapped, by claims of "inspiration" and "apostolic succession" so none could dare question with impunity the later-applied Dogma.  Religiosity inspired cultural travail in Crusades, Inquisitions, ethnic and other minority targetings, and exploitation and abuse.  Follow the money even back then.  With Rome newly split from the Orthodox, the complex and evolved Great Schism of 1054, the Popes needed clout, cash and followers.  Let us make us a war. Loot, rapine and plunder.

This wall of unquestioning obedience has always been defied, however. Heretics were dissenters but designated as evil. Many in the fold of the Roman Church still continue to speak out, as did Father Flannery recently, see Redemptorist Priest Vets the Vatican. Will he be treated as "heretic?"
  • Call for write-ins at the Conclave:  Father Flannery for Pope.

A Father Flannery should have been speaking out 769 years ago, O fortuitous combination of numerological truth-pointers for some who thrive on occult conspiracy theories. Somebody will always find a meaning desired, see sample, http://sacredscribesangelnumbers.blogspot.com/2011/12/angel-number-769.html.  Does mere belief make it so?

Heresy.  Is Father Flannery a heretic? In earlier years, he would be in peril for his life. Heresy has lost its clout, thank goodness; autonomy is not heresy. For many.

On this, the 769th anniversary of the Fall of Montsegur, we now know that many Cathar practices were meritorious, and even adopted by the Church. The human motives overtake any claim to divinity:  Get the land, get the riches of Languedoc-Rousillion, to fill the coffers of the militant Popes.  What an era.  This week, the second week in March, marks the final, grisly end of the Pope's crusade against Christians in the Languedoc, France. It began with the targeting of the Family St. Gilles, whose Counts of Toulouse had ruled this prosperous area, see http://www.midi-france.info/19_toulouse.htm

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