Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Dark Age

Modern Europe re-defines Christianity; (Nov. 5, 2009)

A few years ago, the European Parliament was considering attaching a clause in the Constitution that Christianity is the foundation of Europe’s civilization. It didn’t pass and Europe saved its modern identity as promoter of human rights and human dignity. How could a religion (one of the many in Europe), one of the various attributes in the vast matrix of a civilization be the exclusive characteristics of Europe?  Europe is a heterogeneous society of Nordic, Slavic, and Mediterranean climate and cultures and was dominated intermittently by several Empires.

Modern Europe has extended to its citizens a minimum of human rights.  This respect to human dignity was not the case until late in the 20th century.  Respect of man did not evolve historically as a continuum but in bounds. Retrospective historical studies tend to discover just the illusion of human respect for rights and dignity.

Europeans claiming Christianity to be the foundation for Europe’s new trend for “mercy, forgiveness, and kindness” (trying to attach these attribute to Europeans) forget that for many centuries the strongest faith in Europe was the taste for violence such as in the Inquisition, the chasing out of the Moslems and Jews from Spain, the Crusading campaigns, the conquest of overseas lands with the benediction of Papal Rome, the division of the conquered lands among the European monarchs by Papal decrees, the religious mass massacres among the Christian sects and factions with Papal consent, the so many wars in Europe where the Catholic Church was an integral party, and the worst of all the Dark Age in Europe that lasted from 400 to the 15th century because the central religious power in Rome was apprehensive of rational thinking and forbade the influx of scientific works that might rob it of its temporal power.

There are Europeans claiming that it was Christianity that set the foundation of the individualistic character in Europe, a non-conformist attitude to the collective norms, rituals, and traditions, the will for self-realization rather than clinging to the behavior of rank and file; these chauvinistic Europeans are also relying on entrenched illusions.  The Christian Church was the personification of harassing free thinkers and burning who defied the Christian central dogma for many centuries. Once baptized as a Christian at birth, you had no other alternatives but to obey the Christian laws.  Christianity was the most exclusive religion among all religions:  It coerced colonized people by force into Christianity.  As “Saint” Augustine wrote “It does not matter the faith of a new convert; what counts is what time and rituals will produce in the long run on him and his descendents.”  This is exactly the tactics of western globalization “Promote the consumerism of technological gadgets and the world will acquire faith in the superiority of western civilization”

It is paganism that disseminated liberal thinking of individuality.  A pagan could worship any other idol in foreign lands (with different name but with the same potency in his mind) and he was never persecuted. A pagan could switch idols that suited his interest of the period and his community would not persecute him or ex-communicate him on his God’s preferences.

The modern principle of universality (which means that individuals of all genders, races, colors, and origins have the same mental potentials and capabilities as human and that the differences reside in societies) was never a Christian dogma. Christianity never had this meaning of universality in its dictionary of laws; a slave was a slave by birth and should accept his condition and offers his miseries and plights as sacrifices to God Jesus who suffered for the entire humanity and forgiveness of the “original sin” that never existed. The discovery by the Europeans of the universality of mankind was due to the de-colonization process, an implicit discourse on the role of society during the 20th century.

How could equality and fraternity have emerged from Christianity in order to claim that Europe’s roots are Christian? Lactance in 314 wrote “People are born equal. In societies where people are not considered equal then justice is not served.  Yes, within the Christian communities there are rich and poor, masters and slaves by the flesh but they are equal in the spirit.”  How sweet! Lactance was repeating St. Paul’s ejaculation that added oil to the machinery of the caste system. Gregory “the Great” considered charity what was offered to nobles reduced to poverty because of the huge suffering they felt of being considered within the rank of the poor classes; thus, the true poor people by birth were so used to their way of life that they didn’t need much charity to survive.

The Western Christian Churches (Catholic and Protestants) supported and maintained the caste system of nobility and the “others” non-noble classes.  The feudal lord had the right to crush his vassals with all the might he possessed as a father had the rights over his kids.

There are many Europeans who claim that it was Christianity that promoted the separation of the spiritual off the temporal power on the basis of Jesus saying “Give to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God was is due to God”;  this is total nonsense.  Most of the wars in Europe were launched by monarchs against the temporal influence of Papal Rome in state matters.  Neither the Catholic Church not the various Protestant sects relinquished their temporal “rights”.

Protestantism had this indirect advantage that it weakened the central power of Papal Rome; thus, Islam scientific manuscripts were permitted to enter Europe; this new openness to rational discovery was the main catalyst for the Renaissance period and the qualitative jump into modernity.  It does not mean that the previous sentence of Jesus had no influence in the mind of modern Europe; it does not mean also that Christianity willingly relinquished its temporal influence based on that sentence.  The Prophet Mohammad also urged Moslems to acquire knowledge even from China; it worked for four centuries; it does not mean that Moslems remembered that encouragement most of the time.

There are Europeans, when pressed to give an identity (other than their State), they might opt for their religious denomination (with utmost reluctance in Europe) and thus, when a European says that he is Christian it is sort of family name, the latest in heritage, as cathedrals, old churches, and the paintings, sculptures, and music of the Renaissance period. Christianity cannot be used as identification because it won’t do: most of the US citizens also claim to be Christians, as is the case with Latin Americans; does this means that they could also be considered Europeans or European civilization roots?

Modern Europe is democratic, secular, with laws guaranteeing free religious beliefs, free speech, gathering, and opinions, human rights, sexual liberty, welfare states, open borders and travel.  Modern Europe is anathema to the principles and practices of Christian Churches.  Christianity must be glad that the modern European civilization is giving it not just a mere face lift but a totally different identity.

Note 1: This topic was inspired by the last chapter in the French book “When the world became Christian” by late Paul Veyne.

Note 2:  Ten years a go, Europe was the scene of large genocide; not just between “Christians and Moslems” but among Christians of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox on the basis of “ethnic cleansing” in former Yugoslavia.

Christianity: From total persecution to State religion: what happened? (Nov. 2, 2009)

            By the beginning of the fourth century, Christians in the Roman Empire were no longer persecuted as a sect behaving contrary to the Roman values.  The Christians have suffered one of the worst waves of persecutions from 303 to 311.

The father of Constantine persecuted the Christian mercilessly and Constantine witnessed the massacres. Constantine inherited England and France as co-Emperor, one of three other co-Emperors to the Roman Empire that dominated the Mediterranean Sea.

This article is not about the fictitious story or not of Constantine seeing the symbol of the Christians at night or in a dream before the battle to capturing Rome from Maxence in 312. This post intends on explaining the moratorium on Christian persecutions as this sect reached the threshold of a minority of 10% of the total population.

At that period, a Christian was not born a Christian: he was not baptized a week or longer after birth.  A Christian had to prove that he believed in Christ as the Redemptor of our sins, that Christ resurrected from death and that God is the creator of man and the universe and that God is One and all powerful, and all our actions were to be offered in honor of Him.

The intellectuals and educated leaned toward this concept of a unique God, an abstract God who is not emulated on earthly natural powers or actual planets and Sun: it was the cultural rage of the time.  The high ranked in the Roman caste system didn’t have to proselytize or proclaim their conversion; this task was relegated to the poorer Romans in the caste system so that the Christian religion spread its tenants with example of persecutions in arenas for the pleasure of the Romans.

The four co-Emperors needed stability in their respective allocated Empires and they needed the Christians support in the highest administrative jobs.  If the Christians were about 10% of the total they constituted a much higher ratio in the Orient and in Africa.  After Constantine won the Orient he was left with only one co-Emperor Licinius in Africa.

Emperor Constantine who build Constantinople (later to be named the Byzantium Empire) converted to Christianity and was both pragmatic toward the vast majority of pagans and an intolerant Christian who wanted to unite all the Christian sects in his empire, a sort of centralized orthodox church with a dogma that suited a newly converted Emperor.

Christianity was Not a new ideology to Emperor Constantine; that would be the case a century later. The people were born in the rituals to being “patriotic” to the Roman Empire and to obeying the reigning Emperor. The people were not dupe: not a single ex-voto (in Greek or Latin) to an Emperor (living or dead) was found. People asked and demanded from their Gods to be cured or saved from calamities.

The temporal sovereign was considered a need to safeguard the peace and continuity of the communities; as long as no new heavy taxes were imposed the Emperor could be labeled “The so good and beloved monarch”. The luxurious way of life of the monarch was accepted as a right that fit the position: the monarch didn’t have to abuse of pageantry to impress upon the people, it was not a sort of propaganda to remind the people of his role and power. It was simply a right attached to the position of power.  All that an Emperor had to do is to occasionally speak on the virtue of the existing rituals so that to clear the void and the silence in the kingdom.

In 325 Emperor Constantine summoned all the Bishops to a conclave in Nicaea (Turkey).  The conclave dragged on for four months and ended with a slight majority agreeing to a new abstract dogma of the Trinity of Father, Son, and the Virgin Mary, the Holy Ghost and the Credo.  The dissenting Christian sects were labeled “heretics” because they wanted to believe in One God and not bestow divinity on Jesus and much less on Mary.

Ten years later Emperor Constantine defeated Licinius and became the sole Emperor to the Mediterranean Sea Empire. Persecution of the heretic Christian sects started in earnests and they had to flee to the eastern shores of the Euphrates River, a kingdom under the Persian Sassanide Empire.

Apparently, Emperor Constantine was never defeated in military battles; if he were he might have had a second thought about his all powerful protector new God; at least he might have listened more seriously to the heretic Christian Unique God.  Two years before his death, Emperor Constantine defeated the Germans and wrote to the Bishops meeting in conclave in Tyr (Lebanon) “The Germans are converting to Christianity; they are convinced that our God cannot be defeated or vanquished.”

Constantine died in 337.

From this year to 400 Christianity could have easily lost its supremacy as the Emperor religion.  Emperor Julian reverted to paganism but died two years later; he could have easily converted the whole Empire to paganism which was the vast majority.  Several Christian Emperors were elected by factional armies not on religious ground but for many other reasons.

One main reason that Christian Emperors succeeded to the throne in the next 60 years was because the paganism was flexible, indifferent, and tolerant, while the Christian Church was exclusive (once converted then you are sucked in) and it grabbed tightly at any rights it gained.  The minority Church used to the hilt the temporal power of the Emperors to affirm its positions.

In 394, Emperor Theodosius managed to defeat the pagan German General Arbogast in Slovenia. This defeat was a pure fluke of nature: a violent wind blew in the face of the combined more powerful Roman/Germanic army.  Arbogast had reigned in Rome and installed a figure head Emperor Eugene; he re-confirmed paganism in Rome and for six years paganism was master in the western provinces. Also, two years earlier to the definitive battle, Theodosius had banished all public pagan rituals in the Orient in reaction to Arbogast attempts to restore paganism.

This military defeat had set the stage for the supremacy of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Thus, in the 5th century, the number of bishops jumped drastically; from around 6 to 50 in North Italy, from 20 to 70 in France (Gaul), and in North Africa the number tripled. The pagans transformed Christianity into paganism rituals of visiting every new sanctified Saint or shrines where miracles were invented and propagated.  Pictures and statues of Saints and the Virgin Mary proliferated much quicker than churches.

When Islam conquered the Near East by defeating Heracles in the battle of Yarmouk, the heretic Christian sects (the true monolithic sects) converted to a religion that coincided with their belief system in One and Unique God and that accepted all the Jewish and Christian Bibles as forming integral part of Islam’s fundamental doctrine.  If the Byzantium Empire had selected the Christian heretic dogma instead of the Trinity Islam would have never emerged to fill this vacuum since the Prophet Muhammad was initially a convert to one of the Christian-Jewish sects in Mecca.

There are two distinct civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea. 

The main difference is in the transmission of rituals and traditions among the people.  The Oriental civilization accepts a temporal sovereign who appoints the religious clergy of bishops and Imam (a decentralized religion) and the western civilization was comfortable with the cast of the clergy using the temporal power to expand its dominion over the people (a centralized religious power in Rome); that was the case after the year 400 in pagan Rome.

The Christian religion emulated the trend of former civilizations and a major schism occurred in 1000 between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches based on the perception, power, and the rights of the temporal power. In fact, Emperor Theodoric of Constantinople exerted pressures on Pope Gelase 1st to submit to the temporal rights of the sovereign; then, the Pope created the theory of separation of the spiritual and temporal powers in order to appease the Emperor.

While the Orient experienced a resurgence of the sciences and rational thinking in the 7th century, Europe was engulfed in the Dark Age till the 15th century because the Catholic Church prohibited any rational challenges to its authority.

Dry bones of abridged book versions; (August 16, 2009)

Fifty years ago, Ray Bradbury had this outlandish notion:

1. that the visual memories of what we had read are stored intact;

2. that a technique will be developed to retrieve the contents of books that we have read.

Thus, the intellectuals who fled from the cities to the countryside, wandering like hobos along the old railroad track that is no longer used, have each of them memorized special book or sections of books waiting for the current Dark Age to be over: the one party rule burned the original manuscripts and saved the tasteless abridged versions.

This new version has a coda by the author, which focus on the new realities in book publishing where the publishers are taking liberty to self-censuring sections and paragraphs that are deemed hurtful to the powerful minorities so that they might sell better and avoid group harassments.

For example, the supporters of dwarf, orangutan, dolphin, nuclear non-proliferation, environmentalist, Neo-Luddite, Unitarian, Irish, Italian, octogenarian, Buddhist, Zionist, Women’s Lib, and so forth want to impose and interfere with aesthetics. Consequently, books that focus mainly on a single gender or race or a nationality or use detailed descriptions on the diversity in culture and life style are vigourously classified as non-publishable.

Most of books are revisited and abridged for high school readers, a tampering that render the style of the books alike; thus, you discover that Mark Twain reads like Poe who reads like Shakespeare who reads like Dostoevsky.

Digressions which are the sunshine, the life, and the soul of reading are scraped in these abridged versions.

Consequently, if we take out the philosophic digressions of Dantes and Milton, then what stays are dry bones.

It is no wonder why every organized minority has as a priority to own its publishing business; it is no wonder that I feel the US novels are all the same in style and composition and thus are no longer exciting if we are seeking variety, innovation, and contradiction.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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