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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Mythology ...

Myths often have power way beyond truth, which tends not to serve the ends of those who create myths. As an infamous 20th Century propagandist once remarked "a lie has gone half way round the world before the truth has its boots on."

More and more frequently we hear how "Christianity is responsible for millions of deaths in South America" or "Christianity provoked the Crusades" or "Christians are opposed to science." The usual charge in regard to the first is that it was the "Church" which demanded more and more gold from the Indians and tortured and burned them to get it. The truth, sadly, is that it was the Church which begged and pleaded - yes, the letters to the King of Spain, the Pope and various other authorities still exist - for the Conquistadors to be stopped in their rape of the resources and peoples of the New World. As ever, however, the greed and avarice of the secular authorities overrode the servants of the gospel - and saw to it that the "history" they promulgated told a different story. How easy to cover your outright asset stripping by claiming it was "The Church" made me do it ... Funny thing that, take a look at who benefited from the fortunes made in these "holy" wars and who now shouts loudest about "The Church's" being behind it all.

The Inquisition is now frequently accused of burning "thousands" at the stake for heresy, but the meticulous records of these trials show that, in fact it was a far lesser number who actually suffered this fate. The Inquisition's rules of evidence were extremely strict. Similarly, they are blamed for the "Witch Trials" and so are a number of Protestant Churches, but when you go to the court records you find that the charges were invariably brought by secular authorities and the "evidence" was very flimsy - so flimsy that wherever the Inquisition got to hear of it the trials were usually stopped on the grounds that the evidence was flawed. It is a sad fact that where the churches were actually involved - and I don't include Cromwell's Puritans as Christian - the numbers of people condemned for this "offence" are very small indeed. The same cannot be said of those areas where the secular authorities held complete power. Again, a close look at the circumstances of the victims and the accusers and a pattern emerges - greed, envy and covetousness. Often the victim occupied or possessed something the accuser wanted... How comfortable to be able to blame "The Church" for the legalised theft.

Islam was spread by two means, first by trade and coercion, then by force of arms - though its founder used force of arms to establish it and to obtain control of Mecca and Medina in the first instance. Gradually infiltrating the Byzantine Provinces in what is now Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Sinai, they resorted to war when the civil and Christian authorities refused to accede to the same demands now being heard in the UK and elsewhere for the imposition of Sharia Law, and the recognition of the "supremacy" of Islam in all matters religious. The Crusades were initially sparked by appeals for help from the Byzantine governors of the remaining Asian Province - the bit closest to modern Istanbul and by reports from the Holy Land of Christians being ejected from churches and homes because the authorities demanded they change faith. The church on the site of the Temple in Jerusalem was demolished at this time and replaced by a mosque. The present Mosque on that site is also a former church, though a later one built by the Knights Templar as their "Mother Church."

The rationale used by the Muslim Princes was simple - Jews and Christians, though "People of the Book" were "Dhimmi" - believers in a false religion and therefore not entitled to hold possessions or to use sacred sites. The early campaigns were infused with religious fervour, but the leaders quickly realised there was land, treasure and power to be had - and suddenly the purpose of the exercise lost, for them, its Christian ethics, and became a land and power grab. That became very evident when they sacked Byzantium itself in 1326 and left it open for the Arab Muslim invaders. But, of course, when it all went sour, they were quick to turn it around - "The Church" made them do it.

The persecution of the Jews in Europe followed a similar pattern. The Jews tended to be the Bankers of Kings (Something similar seems to be happening today in Wall Street ...) and when the Kings had borrowed to the hilt and couldn't meet their payments - oh what a convenient way to get rid of the debts. "The Jews killed Jesus!" Stir up the mobs, kill the Jews and seize their assets. Debt crisis solved! And again, the history books record that the perpetrators were "Christians" and "The Church" - the Kings get away with genocide and blame that convenient scapegoat. Again, there are a lot of letters and petitions from Bishops, Abbots and Priests, begging the civil authorities to stop the purges, all ignored then and now conveniently hidden in dusty archives none of the modern generation bother to access...

When you look closely at history some very interesting facts tend to emerge. Religion is often used as a cloak to conceal a real motive for some atrocity. This is as true today of the actions of the Taliban or the Mujahedin as it was of the Conquistadores and Crusaders. Look, in each case, at who gained the most from the atrocities and excesses - almost always the faith and the people of the faith got no benefit at all. But the 'leaders' walked away with vast estates and fortunes. So it is today, the difference, of course, is that now it is a case of "redressing the balances" and "countering the evils of organised religion" as the rich and powerful shift their allegiances to suit the "modern" interpretation of morality, justice or whatever. Anyone who reads the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah or any of the others can see the same pattern. The rich, famous and powerful use religion to cloak their avarice and their activities as long as it suits them - then when there is some advantage to be gained by denying one religion - they quickly convert to another. That is what is happening at present in our society.

Reading the newspapers you could be forgiven for thinking that ALL sexual and physical abuse of children and young people is committed and always has been committed exclusively by clergy. In fact, the statistics of the US Criminal Bureau and those of the UK show that the rogue clergy have been responsible for single figure percentages of the abuse, by far the bulk is carried out by parents, friends of parents or strangers, none of whom have any connection with "The Church." As Dr Goebbels proved - it's all in how the "facts" are presented.

It is a travesty, of course, it may even be self-defeating in the end, one can only hope that the consequences will be visited on those who choose to live that way, and not on those they so revile and denigrate for holding to their faith.

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