Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, part 4

Here, we must discuss the profound, and terrible impact of the life of Jean Calvin on our planet. I won’t clog the process with well-established history: you can easily find many sources that detail his life. What I want to show here is his part in the dialectic of darkness, and how significant he is to it. This requires a brief preamble.

Since the rise of Constantine, the Church began a path of power and pride that resulted in the marrying of itself to the State. It was slow, at first. The Bishop of Rome claimed to rule the Church through the Petrine Doctrine, which asserted that Christ built His church on Peter, whose successors occupied Peter’s chair. When Constantine became a Christian, and ordered orthodoxy in the Church, a swell of power began to rise, where humility was once commanded. Within a century and a half, Pope Hormismas became the first of the office to order the death of a heretic-a power found no where in the Bible.

This would blossom into full madness with the fall of Old Rome. When the Goths took the city in 476, they found a ruined glory, empty of it’s teeming thousands, with no one to even defend it. The sack by the Vandals in 410 had left it threadbare and dingy, as all the choice treasures had been plundered by them. Ostensibly, the government of Rome had been moved to swamps near Ravenna; calling itself the Exarchate, it held out hope that succor would arrive to restore Old Rome-which almost occurred under Justinian in the 6th century, in a reconquista spearheaded by the superb general Belisarius.

Gothic Rome held, however, and like all barbarians, they were much better at taking an empire than ruling it. They were in desperate need of assistance in running the Empire-and of all the institutions that had crumbled and atrophied, there was one that remained energized and vigorous: the Church. The bishop of Rome had a great following, and was a natural source of structure, which gave them a enhanced voice with the Gothic kings. This would find its’ fullness in the son of Merovese, Clovis the Frank.

Clovis married a Catholic girl, Clotilda, who gave him a crucifix to wear,which, according to him, saved his life in battle after he prayed to the Roman war god Christ. She never really explained what it meant-he was a Frank, the hardest fighters in the West, and that was the way he saw ‘gods’. He became a Catholic to honor the war god of his wife’s people, and the Bishop of Rome as all to happy to indulge his misconceptions-since those would now be his to direct. This began the Terror of Rome, and countless were its’ victims for the next millennium.

It was small at first. The Frankish war machine took the North, where the gnostic Gospels had fled after Nicaea, and where paganism was still rife. Here, people were tortured and murdered for resisting the Cross of Christ, which became a standard of violence and terror. In one case, St Dawid earned his stripes by butchering 200,000 pagans. Teutonic pagans were likewise subjected, until Charlemagne wiped them out, and tore down their great tree.

Then, the Papacy, not content to rule Heaven, cast its’ eyes on the seat of the Holy Roman Empire, and with that, it became a purely political office. It began to scheme and plot as any earthly ruler did-and it played the game the same way. It created the False Decretals, and the Donations of Constantine, to prove that the Papacy was the inheritor of the Empire, not the Emperor. This split Europe in two, as men like Dante-at the threat of death and damnation-wrote courageously of the right of the state to rule without subjection to the Church.

The sheer greed of power and opulence began to mushroom forward from the Vatican, and to the desire of the evil Popes, there was no limit. Some men wore the miter with dignity, even honestly. But the structure of the Papacy was increasingly corrupt by nature, as power attracts men willing to sacrifice ethics to obtain it. After time passed, the Papacy began to claim powers so absurd that reason could not bear them-which became a deadly virus to catch anywhere the Cross was displayed. At times, even where it was displayed.

Not only was it criminal to question the Pope, it was equally anathema to seek Christ your own way. Jon Hus was murdered-after a promise of safe conduct-for ‘heresy’, as were the pitiful Vaudois, who were abluted by methods of evil unparalleled until the 20th century, by the very pious Charles Emmanuel II of Savoy. The claims of power and avarice were unchecked, even by kings, as the Bishop of Peter claimed the power of Interdiction-the cutting off of an entire nation from Communion from Christ, if the ruler did not bow before the power of Old Rome.

The Papal Bulls-decrees- are visible to see, as a record of the madness of power. They made the teaching of the poverty of Christ a heresy, while launching wars of acquisition of land in the Levant. And after a while, they assisted empire in the converting people into property, with demarcation of the New World, and the Bull Dum Diversas. By the time of Age of Discovery, the Papacy had the power to conquer the world, and act as its’ primary functionary of human trafficking. Eventually, the became spiritual traffickers as well, being able to spring a loved one from Hell-for a modest donation.

The power of the Papacy to do harm became reckless, unchecked, unfettered, to the extent that they could burn men alive-for having the wrong Bible, or contradicting their version of the truth, like the geocentric doctrine. And when I say could, I mean did. Bruno would not recant the heliocentric model under torture, as poor Galileo did, and was roasted, hurling defiance at the Pope as he burned. At the turn if the 16th century, the Terror of Rome has no rival, no equal, no limit. The Hapsburg alliance controlled most of Europe, and underwrote the Papacy with the full support of the might of Austria, Germany and Spain. Heady with power, it seemed that the dream would never end for the men in the Lateran Palace (incidentally, known as the best whorehouse in Rome, for he array of prostitutes who gathered there, to service knights and priests, or, occasionally, a Pope, like Alexander or Julian). Then, the bravest man in Europe put an end to it all.

The Papacy had survived the game of power, and risen to the top of it. No one could stand against it. Then, a grumpy monk in northern Germany nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, and rewrote the planet dramatically. Martin Luther was the torch on the powder keg that had brewed for a thousand years. Armed with courage, conviction, and a surprise weapon-the printing press-he struck a blow at the Papacy that ignited the resistance to it, and with the help of Frederick the Elector of Saxony, found an ally in a growing movement of nations that would stand up to Rome, including Sweden, under Gustav Adolphus, and the Hanseatic League of the north. Francis of France also agitated greatly against the Hapsburgs, which helped Luther remain safe for a while, but it was the work of Frederick that kept him safe from the Pope’s promise of safe conduct that had led Hus to immolation not long before.

Eventually, the Empire struck back, and the Papacy formed the Councils of Trent, which formulated the response to the Reformation movement-and it was a violent one. Not at first, but an animal near death becomes thrice as savage for it, and the papacy was no different. The counter-Reformation was so bloody a war that Europe had to quit fighting, after a third of it had died, just as in the days of the Black Death. Finally, at Westphalia, all parties agreed on the sacred words: “Cuius Regio, est Religio”-to the ruler, his religion. What is insane-or human- in this whole affair, is that Protestants were seen as another religion.

So, as a new day dawned on Europe in 1648, let us look at the tally at the end of game for the Papacy. Execution by whim, torture at will by Inquisition, rapine and brigandage in the New world, the commodification of non-Christendom, land grabs by war of conquest in the Levant, the hostility to the poverty of Christ, and the assertion of the power to damn the very souls of men. I have not even touched what the Hebrew endured during this time-and what they saw, when the Cross came their way, which is even worse than I have enumerated thus far.

The true villainy of this is that the Bible permits none of this. In an age when the controllers of the Bible dictated what it said, it was used to validate virtually anything the controllers desired. It was, to borrow from Nietzsche, ‘human, all too human’. But, in defiance of the ‘True Scotsman’ nonsense, I must assert that Christ gave us one commandment which makes these affairs impossible to support Biblically. Thus He spoke, as Law from His mouth: “do to others what you would have done to you’. If adhered to, this obviates all the maladies hitherto abjured. He never said ‘If that guy disagrees with your political agenda, cut off his head’. So, it is not Christianity that is to blame, but rather, Christendom, the political edifice built on the Church, all those centuries ago, in the age of Constantine.

Thus, when the Vaudois were savagely extirpated, the last of their tortured moments saw the Cross emblazoned on the armor and shields of their assailants, as did the Cathars. The pagans of Wales and Germany share this with them, as well as the Huguenots of France, who were themselves Christians. The Hebrews, beaten, robbed, massacred, converted by force, burned as witches, and continually dehumanized came to see the Cross as a symbol of absolute terror-as did the Mezo-Americans who were obliterated by the men from the ships bearing it on their sails. Thus was the Cross impugned. It was the standard of men who bore no resemblance to the man who died upon it. It was a politicized emblem of an empire gone berserk. Nothing-nothing– that stood before the Terror of Rome could long survive. And this would be the blueprint for what was to come.

All of this has been a primer-a mere primer- for what is to come. For now, now you are ready to face the iniquity of the Arch villain of history, whose blackness, like a singularity, swallows all that it covers. Here, no light can escape’ here, only darkness prevails. What I showed you in the Papacy was the foreshadowing of the Pope of the Protestants, their true son, who made his father-for Papacy comes from the Latin for Father-proud of the stamp it left on its’ offspring. You saw what the Papacy did to the Cross. Now, prepare to see the epic shadow of the man who drowned the world in madness ineffable. Behold, the shade of Calvin.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, Part 3

Now, we have seen how the Great Barge made its’ way through history, as the vessel of one people, in one place, at one time. From their river, the Euphrates, came the Tigris, and the vessels for it, the kalak. Let us then examine the navigation of those tiny boats, for history will turn on them. Indeed, all the world will soon be covered by the swarm of them out on their run.

Following the reports of the resurrection of the Messiah, a frenetic wave of activity covered the Roman empire; first in Judea, then in Greek cities like Corinth, Thessaloniki, and the Gallic city Galatia. Within a generation, men trained to go out into the waters of the nations-to be fishers of men, as the kalak is used often-to spread the word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The most famous of these is of course Paul, the apostle to the gentiles; but, while chief amongst them, he was one of many who went forth, proclaiming the Good News.

There were fish to catch, for the Kingdom of God, and the early followers of The Way-known now as Christianity-left no stone unturned for those willing to repent and believe. They sailed the Tigris, casting their nets on all sides, looking for people to fish out and be saved. In the beginning, this was a tidal swell of activity, which was threatening to wash over the whole world. Indeed, until the age of Constantine, it looked for all the world like the Way might prevail against all odds. There seemed to be no way to stop the conversion of the Earth to the Gospel.

This is not empty rhetoric; Gibbons felt strongly that Christianity brought the Roman Empire down, as did Nietzsche. As a side note, I personally think the disease brought back from the Parthian wars of the third century did them in more than anything. Inflation was killing them, and political discord after the death of Marcus Aurelieus led to the splitting of the Empire into four factions. But it is perfectly reasonable to assert what Gibbons and Nietzsche did. An army with no weapons had beaten Rome-no weapons except having gained mastery over the fear of death.

You will recall our discussion of the impact of death on humans. Oddly, this is a dull sting to aboriginals and hunter-gatherers. They have an easier time accepting the way of things. Only as people became civilized did they become afraid: it would seem that having a luxurious life leads one to fear it ending. After all, if death eats you, what was the point of anything? If the only fate that awaits is nothingness, is it not the ultimate cruelty, to live long enough to realize that you are going to blank out, then go dark, extinguished, and erased?

The idea-the fact, in a Roman mind-that you will end was a torment they could not endure. They sought for every way possible to gain immortality-through writings, sculptures, histories. When you see these things, you seeing the Roman soul, flailing in fear, that they will not even be remembered. It was the keen awareness of this fear that the Romans used to dominate and control people; without this, Rome could not stand. A person who did not fear death was a weapon that could not be disarmed. This did challenge the Roman way of thinking, and undermined their cultural values greatly.

So, Christianity could be seen as an assault on Roman values themselves, as Nietzsche points out in Genealogy of Morals. Even today, I still cannot find a way to conclusively dismiss his argument empirically. While I do not agree with Frederick’s conclusion, his synopsis is quire valid. Romans did not like The Way. It was emasculating, prudish, and, well, Jewish. Romans liked conquest, personal glory, domination, and the glorious festival of the winter solstice, the Saturnalia. They were lovers of life, the Romans-for death was always after them.

Christianity is the death they fear, plus a new kind of death-a death to self, which took away the thin veneer of joy they had, in keeping Grendel upon the moors. In any other circumstance, they would have obliterated the offending cult-as they were famous for doing. But in Christianity, they finally met their match. They met an opponent who grew stronger as you killed them. Roman plebians-the commoners-who had long suffered under the patrician class, found that The Way offered them a power they could not have elsewise: the power to defy Rome. Slaves, as Frederick noted, were especially attracted to the Gospel, as it offered what they had never known, which was hope for a better tomorrow.

So the swell built, washing away the Roman power, and was being followed-even against psychotics like Diocletian-in the breadth of the Empire, surging as the Pagan ways were dwindling out. After Adrianople, Rome was an empty shell, a paper tiger that barbarians would to scoff-and later, take. Those people, the Goths, would elevate Christianity to new level-but at the price of creating a juggernaut of terror unmatched even in the days of Rome. This terror was Rome plus the Church, which became known formally as the Papacy. Please note, with acumen, the following:  This is not anti-Catholic. This is anti-Papal. I love my Catholic brethren fully and unconditionally. The Papacy is not Catholic: it is a tumor than grew up on the church. After the Peaces of Westphalia. the terror was finally leashed, and today is actually a spiritual center of some sorts, although the sybarite, hedonistic elements still remain strong within the Vatican.

The fall of the Terror of Rome was coterminus with the discovery of the New World (or, not Europe), and with this came a literal sailing of missionaries across the whole Earth, in the wake of Magellan’s epic quest to triumph over the insults heaped upon him by the King of Portugal. Unfortunately, this would not be the tale of epic splendor one would hope-for vessels meant to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead brought horror and darkness, and the commodification of people in the service of avarice. This is largely due to the impact of the arch-criminal of history, who harmed more than can be counted. This isn’t the standard bad guy-Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or even Karl Marx. This person cast a shadow over most of our planet that threw billions into ruin and nightmare, all through uniting the Gospel of Christ with that of Mammon. He is the son of the Papacy, who in fighting Popes became one, and the father of most protestant denominations in the West. This was Jean Calvin, and our next interlude will have to examine why he and his Papal counterparts made the Cross of Jesus Christ a sign of disrepute and disgust to most of humanity.