The Myth of Absolution and Purity
Chapter 3- The Myths of Absolution and Purity.
In the Christian New Testament, Jesus many times advocates violence, and seldom (if ever) puts it into a context of self-defense… some examples are:
‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? I have not come to bring peace but a sword’ (Matthew 10:34
and ‘I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the Earth? …No, I tell you, but rather division’ (Luke 12:49-51).
Jesus goes so far as to say that you should sell your clothes in order to purchase weapons: ‘If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one’ (Luke 22:36).
Christianity is perhaps best defined by a singular verse in the Bible, where Jesus said, ‘But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence’ (Luke 19:27).
This bloodthirsty intolerance for independent thought or multicultural coexistence is at the very core of most monotheism. A singular God enables the concept of a singular ‘chosen,’ ‘blessed,’ or ‘saved’ group of people, thus in turn enabling the binary dialectic of an ‘other’ or ‘lesser’ class of not-chosen people, and setting the social stage for hierarchical stratification.
Jesus goes on to supposedly said, ‘Do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also’ (Matthew 5:39).
This is the supposed ‘son of God’ (or, by some interpretations, God personified) telling people that they should not resist evil, but allow for evil to continue by voluntarily suppressing their instinctual defensive responses for self-preservation (though no action can be voluntary so long as the person who commits the act believes in the threats of divine judgment and eternal torment- such a belief renders any action as being coerced).
This approach is not a reasonable pacifism, but illogical cowardice- it does not create peace, but enables the continuation and escalation of cruelty, victimization and injustice. Indeed, monotheists generally do not resist those who S. O. S. would see as evildoers as these monotheists are often themselves perpetrating evil deeds, utilizing God as their sword and shield, both the means for their evil, violent, and oppressive actions and the means of protecting themselves from exterior and interior negative judgments of (or repercussions from) those actions.
Jesus, in telling his followers to not resist an evildoer, is inadvertently (or perhaps even intentionally) telling them not to resist his teachings of intolerance and violence! Jesus said to not resist evildoers, but Anarcho-Satanists resist evil- especially that evil which takes away people’s intellectual, physical and moral abilities to defend themselves from harm.
Eight questionable statements were supposedly given by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, and can be found in the New Testament of the Christian Bible in the book of Matthew.
These statements, often referred to as the Beatitudes, are meant to represent Jesus’ reinterpretation of conditions outlined in the Old Testament, and are meant to highlight the ideals of Christianity.
S.O.S. can examine and interpret these statements in order to draw attention to the ideals that supposedly serve as the foundational premises of Christian thought. "Blessed are... • ....the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."(Matthew 5:3)
This precept is intended to maintain complacency of those on the lower echelons of economic hierarchy. Read literally, those who are poor in spirit would be lacking in faith; a strange choice for a supposedly all-powerful deity to give ownership of an ethereal kingdom to those who lack faith. As this literal reading is neither internally consistent nor the common interpretation, we choose to ignore the 'in spirit' qualifier and focus on this statement as addressed to the economically disadvantaged.
The poor are told they own heaven (that it is theirs). While immediately invoking the exclusive, privatized ownership of property as a desirable condition, this concept of ethereal property is an empty promise, an exploitable idea masquerading as an offer of prime afterlife real estate.
The poor are here implicitly warned that should they attempt to better their economic conditions, they may no longer qualify to "own" heaven, as poverty (which cannot exist without the contrast of wealth) is falsely implied as the virtue whereby this reward is received
. Heaven here becomes a conceptual bribe for the poor to accept unjust hierarchical economic and social stratification.
Here the poor are told the lie that their poverty will be compensated for (though only post-mortem) by the very God which supposedly created the conditions for such suffering.
This is a statement which encourages social complacency in response to economic injustices.
....those who mourn: for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)
This precept is meant to discourage internal emotional processing and community support in preference of reliance upon a non-existent deity.
The comfort of faith in times of mourning is akin to the comfort of a diseased and infested blanket, whereby those who rely upon it for temporary relief from natural elements may find that their chill (or grief) is momentarily lessened, but the temporary respite is quickly followed by parasitic opportunism.
The comfort of the idea of a loved one existing beyond death in paradise is a device to induce social leverage, as it is reinforced by the idea of a binary afterlife structure, whereby one's foes are eternally punished after death.
The idea is here implied that if one does not adhere to faith in God, they will not be accepted into heaven, that they will be deprived of the opportunity to be reunited with the spirits of deceased relatives of faith (supposedly awaiting them), that their surviving family's grief will we worsened by lack of 'divine' comfort, and perhaps that the grief of their loved ones would be aggravated by their assumption that the spirit of a loved one was being tortured in hell or being excluded in purgatory.
The comfort provided by belief in a heavenly afterlife diminishes and discourages the comforts provided by community and individual processing of grief, and attempts to homogenize diverse expressions of grief through the limited and warped lens of monotheist faith.
Lastly, this statement discourages seeking social justice for the deceased and their surviving communities in the case of wrongful death, when a party may be held accountable.
Direct individual or community action to hold that party accountable is disregarded in favor of supposed eventual 'divine' action, which is presented as spiritual segregation and indefinite selective torture.
....the meek: for they will inherit the earth."(Matthew 5:5)
This precept is meant to discourage active rebellion or action against the hierarchies of Church and State, and encourage complacency and disconnect from community struggles. Here, meekness and humility are falsely upheld as virtuous euphemisms for subservience to hierarchical authority and cowardice in response to aggression, and falsely upheld as a viable methods of empowerment.
A paradox here arises, as one would cease to be meek through ownership of the Earth, but ownership of the Earth is reserved for the meek only- seldom do monotheists interpret this to mean that a cycle of inheritance of the Earth by ever-meeker people is intended, as this would be a revolutionary position threatening to authoritative institutions. This inheritance is most usually conceptualized by monotheists as a singular occurrence, often entwined with expectations of the rapture, armageddon, or judgement day, leaving one wondering what would be left of the Earth to inherit. The usage of the concept of inheritance, itself often a highly patriarchal social construct, is here upheld as the approved method of transferring ownership of property (an entire planet in this case), again providing false validation of property ownership.
The question which subsequently arises is who the meek would be inheriting the Earth from- surely not from a supposedly immortal God who would never die, and thus never enable an inheritance of his supposed creation. Perhaps Jesus believed that he owned the world (an easy delusional progression from believing in his own exclusive divinity), and was referring to his own imminent demise, but within this context, his prophecy has been long since disproven.
This beatitude urges disempowerment in general, falsely promising the whole world in exchange for meek submission to oppressors. • ....those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled."(Matthew 5:6) While on the surface, this would seem to be simple statement condoning righteousness, righteousness itself is highly subjective, and what an Abrahamic monotheism may consider a righteous act may be considered a major transgression of human rights to an atheist or person of non-Abrahamic faith. Using the metaphors of hunger and thirst has led to some interpretations of this statement to be more focused on those who lack access to food and drinkable water- those who are literally malnourished or dehydrated. Even in ancient Judaea, this blessing could've been interpreted as insensitive to those who actually hungered and thirst for food and water instead of a vague righteousness. This statement could also be seen as a threat- it never qualifies exactly what will fill those who desire righteousness, and could imply that those who unknowingly desired righteousness (and, in lacking righteousness within themselves, could be considered wicked or evil) would be filled by the swords and spears of falsely righteous monotheist aggressors.
....the merciful: for they will be shown mercy."(Matthew 5:7) Although merciful acts can sometimes be important and impactful, mercy has to be earned. This blanket statement serves to dissuade anger with injustice, and follows the same faulty logic of pacifism invoked when advocating for the victims of assault to "turning the other cheek". Here, the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is wrongly assumed as universal, and that if one behaves in a certain way (with mercy), that they can and should expect reciprocation of that behavior, but this dangerous assumption disregards the diversity of the human experience (in this context, it specifically disregards the diversity of reactions to acts of mercy), and enables victimizers and predatory behavior to take advantage of this naive assumption.
While there are occasional opportunities for mercy to be a viable response to aggression, assuming mercy as a default reaction makes it predictable and thus easily exploitable. Mercy is best applied only when transgressing parties demonstrate sincere remorse for their transgressions. Individuals who continually maintain and benefit from hierarchical social stratification are generally undeserving of mercy without a sincere request for such mercy and a demonstrable change in behavior.
Being the recipient of mercy can be a humiliatingly disempowering experience, and as such can cause mental health issues and/or long-term resentment; it should not be assumed that an act of mercy can resolve conflict, but that in some cases condescending acts of mercy can exacerbate existing conflicts.
....the pure in heart: for they will see God."(Matthew 5:8) Purity is a fetishized concept in monotheism which serves as another device of social leverage, whereby those deemed 'pure' by social authorities are given hierarchical status above those deemed 'impure' by those same authorities. This unfortunate dynamic is explored at length in Part 11: The Myths of Absolution and Purity. The 'purity of heart' referenced in this statement is generally not conceived of as referencing literal physiology, and so those with heart murmurs, angina pectoris, or other medical heart conditions are usually not assumed to be excluded by this statement- 'purity of heart' here can be better understood as purity of faith (unquestioning faith), purity of moral conditioning (absolute adherence to religious dogma and codified behavior), or purity of obedience to authority.
Furthermore, "seeing God" is a common euphemism for death, and thus makes for a poor reward for this supposed purity. • ....the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God."(Matthew 5:9) Much like mercy and forgiveness, making peace is impossible with those who are violently, aggressively, and remorselessly pursuing hierarchical stratification and hegemonic domination.
This statement encourages a peace process that may be ineffective or inappropriate when applied to ongoing aggressions, in which case organized self-defense may be more urgently needed than diplomatic negotiations, as such peacemaking efforts can only occur effectively when all the involved parties mutually desire to end hostilities. Hierarchical elites often interpret peace as uncontested social stratification oppression, or a status quo of unaddressed inequality and injustice- this is why aggressive and militarized police are labeled as "peace officers" and occupying neocolonial militaries are labeled as "peace-keeping forces".
The S. O. S. should generally realize that the greatest peacemakers are those who dismantle warlike nation-states, hierarchical religious institutions, and corporate military suppliers.
The State is the social mechanism by which modern warfare is declared and defined, the monotheist institution is the social mechanism by which modern warfare is falsely conceptually justified for mass approval, and the military-contracted capitalist corporation is the social mechanism by which modern warfare is materially supported and enabled.
Being referred to as "children of God" is a condescending and insulting projection of immaturity and dependency; it is a poor reward for those who dedicate their lives to greater peace through agitation for greater equality and socio-economic justice.
....those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."(Matthew 5:10) This directly advises persecuted individuals and communities to be complacent and accepting of the circumstances of their persecution, and again promises nonexistent ethereal property ownership as a bribe for this complacency and collaboration with persecutors.
In the final analysis of these beatitudes, they are found to be fraught inconsistencies and paradoxical claims, fraught with apologetics for cowardice in response to socio-economic injustices, fraught with implications approving of private property ownership, and fraught with invocations of death (seeing God and/or owning Heaven) as a reward for this cowardly acceptance of unjust disparities.
In the biblical narrative, Jesus was apprehended by the Roman authorities for the act of overturning tables of moneychangers in the Temple in Jerusalem. This act was a direct challenge to economic norms of the day- a distinct attack on the status quo. After preaching peace and charity and love and forgiveness (and occasionally violence, as evidenced previously) for many years and developing a cult following but not being taken seriously by his rabbinical peers and patriarchs, Jesus (like most humans marginalized and ignored by the authorities of their social order) literally lashed out, producing a whip and flogging (or threatening to flog) the moneychangers while overturning their tables. This is not completely unlike a modern mass shooting, where a marginalized individual commits (or threatens to commit) violent acts in a highly public and vulnerable place of social exchange in order to win the attentions of society at large, regardless if those attentions are positive or negative. After the temple incident, Roman imperial authorities were (according to biblical mythology) influenced by the upset colonized Jewish population into confronting, arresting, and executing Jesus.
Some modern Christians and white supremacists blame Jews (more than the Romans) for the death of Jesus, others will attempt to reduce the impact of the Jewish faith on the formulation of Christianity. However, according to the bible, Jesus commanded his followers to follow the laws set forth in ancient Jewish texts such as Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus (Leviticus is discussed at length in Part 4- The Economy of the Flesh, and Part 11- The Myths of Absolution and Purity). Specifically, Jesus purportedly stated 'Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose' (Matthew 5:17). Similarly, one of the Quran’s main arguments for its own legitimacy is the claim that it 'confirms the earlier monotheist scriptures (the Torah and the Gospels.)' Inspired by this, Muslims occasionally make the argument for the legitimacy of Islam by drawing out similarities between Islamic law and the instructions given in the previous scriptures, specifically in the law of Moses. Muslims often try to claim a continuity between the Mosaic Law, or Torah, on the one hand and the Qur'an and Islamic Shariah law on the other. Though many Christians and Muslims often express hatred towards Jews (either for Jesus' death or for Israeli conquest of Palestine), their religions worship the same fictitious and cruel God.
In the Christian New Testament, the mythological concept of a singular god-of-everything is divided into a trinity to make a human aspect of that God more psychologically accessible. Prior to this, the singular Jewish God was wholly beyond (and not subject to) the human experience- an unknowable, unfathomable divine power. The division of God into three aspects, one of which could endure the human experience, gave Christianity an ability to personalize this mysterious divine power into a terrestrial godhead. The problem is that the concept of a singular God simultaneously existing as a trinity of ‘father, son and holy spirit’ is akin to a singular person existing with multiple personalities- a disorder known as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and other symptoms that cause social or occupational dysfunction. Jesus’ schizophrenic behavior (the delusion that he was God, the hallucinations of hearing God speak to him despite the fact that he believed he was God, the disorganized and sometimes contradictory nature of Jesus’ teachings and actions, and his social and occupational marginalization by his rabbinical peers) results in the transformation of the Jewish singular God into a schizophrenic Trinitarian God with three divergent (but linked) expressions. This God is simultaneously monotheistic and polytheistic, enabling the early Christian faith to have an appeal to both monotheistic Jews and to polytheistic Greeks and Romans, and thus gain footholds in those societies. By creating a faith in a God with multiple expressions/personalities, Christianity is able to play one aspect of this God against another, and (for instance) cite Jesus’ teachings of charity and forgiveness while simultaneously invoking the wrathful judgment and expulsion committed by the Old-Testament father-God.
Jesus himself expresses a desire to avoid crucifixion during his ‘Agony in the Garden’ of Gethsemane, where he is quoted as having said during prayer, “My Father, if it is possible, may this (fate) be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” How can an all-powerful and supposedly perfect divine being harbor opposing wills or unfulfilled desires? This is a near-perfect example of a schizophrenic behavior- during prayer, Jesus vocally disagrees with God even as he harbors the delusion of being God himself. This schizophrenic break enables the concept of God to exist simultaneously in a binary structure of both forgiving and wrathful, both accepting and judgmental, so that the Christian faith can encapsulate a greater sphere of influence among divergent philosophies and cultures. Through appeals to faith in this schizophrenic Trinitarian God, the Christian paves the way for the justification of hypocritical moral contradiction (and the justification of the ensuing social double standards) through this ‘mystery of the faith’ and insulates their moral transgressions against critical analysis.
Christianity itself is founded upon an archetype of religious and political persecution- the execution of Jesus by the Romans. The Christian experience of violence during the Pagan Roman persecutions shaped the ideologies and practices that drove further religious conflicts over the course of the following centuries... the formative experience of martyrdom and persecution determined the ways in which early Christians would experience violence under the Pagan Roman Empire, and the ways in which later Christians would utilize violence under the Christian Roman Empire throughout history up to the modern day. Discourses of martyrdom and persecution formed the symbolic language through which Christians justified or denounced the use of violence. Monotheistic religion has strongly reinforced the concept of a cosmic or ethereal battle between good and evil amongst zealots- this concept engendered a persecution complex, inspiring martyrdom.
Behind every act of Christian martyrdom lay the self-sacrifice of Jesus himself. To be a Christian was (and still is) synonymous with the recognition of a divine power in the act of self-sacrifice, and through this sacrifice, to reveal the catalyst of Jesus’ violent death as the rule of the Roman imperial occupation. However, many modern Christians are fanatical in ways very different from their savior or early predecessors… they sacrifice their minds instead of their bodies. The modern Christian (and most other modern monotheists) merely sacrifice their abilities to reason and use critical thought (instead of sacrificing their flesh) for their faith. Modern Christians also differ greatly from their ancient predecessors in that modern Christians are much more likely to condone the violence inherent in a colonial empire's expansion, as modern Christianity has become the driving force behind much of the colonial expansion of the past several centuries- a legacy which continues today.
At its inception and at its core, Christianity is the assumption of divine revelation through a reverence of glorified suffering and passive endurance of the inherent violence of the state. Without state violence as a catalyst, it is doubtful that Jesus, this supposed rabbi-turned ‘son of God,’ would have ever achieved notoriety, much less had a significant or lasting impact on monotheism. Christianity’s proposed ‘messiah’ and ‘savior’ was only brought to the attention of the world at large through the violent interference of an imperial, colonial authority. In retaliation for the execution of Jesus, early Christians sought suicidal martyrdom by attacking Pagan Roman temples- this is evidence that Christians resorted to and relied on physical violence and terrorist tactics as a tool to spread their faith since Christianity’s earliest days. These Christians who sought martyrdom through suicide attacks on the Pagan temples of their Roman oppressors are a historical reflection of the Muslims who now seek martyrdom through suicide attacks on the social, economic, and militaristic infrastructure of their Christian and Jewish opponents, whom they view as imperial oppressors.
The early Catholic church designed itself as an organization specifically geared towards political expediency within the Roman Empire and had little to do with creating a pretense of a greater understanding of a supposed ‘spirituality’ or improving any quality of life. Understanding Christian teachings was viewed as much less important than submission to the authority of the Catholic church and creating a uniformity of Christian gospels- hundreds of different gospels were circulating at the time. Despite The Catholic church’s prohibitions against researching the origins of the Christian gospels, studies have shown that all four gospels of the Christian bible have been doctored, edited, revised, and translated through countless languages. While the Catholic church claimed that its ‘truth’ was static in nature and had been revealed only once (through Jesus), it continually found cause for editing that ‘truth’ to fit their current socio political needs. Despite these revisions, the Christian gospels still often contradict each other- most notably, all gospels still blatantly disagree upon Jesus’ final words. The simple standards of the early Orthodox Christians (not needing to understand, but simply needing to accept and obey) led Roman authorities to change their view Christianity from a dangerous, fanatical Jewish cult to a means of controlling and managing large numbers of people. The Catholic church’s insistence on blind obedience and uniformity of worship appealed to the Roman emperor Constantine, a man who executed his son and boiled his wife alive. Constantine reportedly dreamt of a cross inscribed with the words: ‘In this sign, thou shalt conquer.’ While he only personally converted to Christianity on his deathbed, Constantine was among the first imperial rulers to appreciate Christianity as a means to suppress dissent and to justify aggressive expansion- he instated it as the Roman Empire’s official religion for the purpose of bolstering his military might and uniting the vast and troubled Roman Empire. Although Jesus was executed by Romans as a result of a lawful Roman decree, the Romans intensified persecution of Jews to deflect blame for Jesus’ death- a convenient means of obscuring Jesus’ political activity against the Romans and disassociating Christianity from political rebellion, while at the same time solidifying the role of Jews in Europe as political scapegoats.
As The Roman Empire collapsed under repeated attacks by the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Huns, and the Vandals, many blamed the empire’s shift towards Christianity. The Eastern Empire, otherwise known as Byzantium, flourished despite the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, until the plague struck around 540. Although an outbreak of Bubonic plague, this was not the ‘Black Death’ of the 1300’s that killed a third of Europe’s population. While the ‘Black Death’ killed an estimated 27 million, the earlier bubonic outbreak in Byzantium killed an estimated 100 million, and the Roman Empire would never recover. However, the plague would have a very different effect upon the Christian church- panicking people flocked to the church in terror. The Church exploited fear of the plague by claiming it was a disease put upon humanity by God as a punishment for disobedience- this tactic of using disease to promote fear of God echos today when modern Christians claim that AIDS is God’s punishment upon people who engage homosexual or non-normative activities, as well as when pharmaceutical corporations are able to find greater profit in treating (exploiting) a disease when they have the capacity to cure and eliminate it instead. As the early bubonic plague ravaged the Eastern Empire, the Christian church declared the advancement of medicinal practices (developed over hundreds of years of Greek and Roman civilization) to be heresy, as it was ineffective at combating the plague. The Christian church replaced centuries of medicinal knowledge with the practice of bleeding- bloodletting and leeching. For ten centuries (between 600 and 1600), bleeding was the most common ‘medical’ practice in Europe- a practice which would kill tens of thousands each year. The Church ushered in the Dark Ages, amassing immense wealth while labeling as heretical many basic elements of civilization. Under the leadership of the Catholic church, activity in the fields of medicine, technology, science, education, history, art and commerce all but completely collapsed. Roman technology of indoor plumbing and heating disappeared. Disease became commonplace as sanitation and hygiene deteriorated. The vast networks of roads and aqueducts created and maintained by the Romans fell into neglect, and would remain so until almost the 19th century. All personal artistic expression was considered heresy, and the only art allowed was that which promoted Christian values- the marble statues of ancient Greece and Rome were torn down and destroyed. Though the Catholic church was incredibly lucrative, economic activity outside monotheistic institutions all but came to a standstill. Avarice and greed were the unspoken rule of the Church’s dominance over European society- at least forty different popes were known to have bought their way into the papacy during the Dark Ages with wealth amassed from the refusal of the Catholic church to pay taxes, collecting tithes and revenues from both serfs and imperial rulers, confiscating property through corrupt court judgements, selling the remission of sins (called ‘indulgences’), selling ecclesiastical offices (called “simony”), and sometimes by simply taking land by force. Alliances with the various emerging nation-states were essential to the Catholic church’s secular influence and wealth. Both church and state profited greatly from these alliances. Imperial rulers provided not only military resources but also lucrative positions for the clergy.
By overseeing the administrative matters of imperial rulers, bishops became vested with both military and civil authority, becoming as powerful, influential and brutal as the most notorious feudal lords. In an age where the belief in the ‘divine’ right of kings prevailed, the Pope’s support of a king was thought to be essential, as was the conversion of imperial subjects to Christianity. The widespread conversions were usually little more than a facade; the Catholic church’s continual admonishments against Pagan practices indicated how insubstantial most conversions to Christianity were. Most new converts to Christianity were ignorant due to illiteracy and had little to no idea of the tenets of Christianity, accepting the religion based upon fear of reprisal, with minimal knowledge of Christian beliefs. The Catholic church played a pivotal role in bringing about the Dark Ages in Europe- its devastating impact was felt in nearly every sphere of human endeavor, but ironically the medieval Catholic church failed to have much impact in the way common people expressed their ‘spirituality’; while most people adopted a Christian veneer, they did not significantly change their understanding or perception of religion.
The losses in science due to Christian leadership in the Dark Ages were monumental. In some cases, the Christian church’s burning of scientific books and repression of intellectual pursuits set humanity back as much as two thousand years in its scientific understanding. Early Greek scientists had already developed the heliocentric theory (that the earth was round and revolved around the sun), invented longitude and latitude, and had accurately measured the circumference of the Earth. It would not be until the 16th century Renaissance that Copernicus would reintroduce the theory that the Earth revolved around the sun and Galileo would be persecuted by the inquisition for promoting heliocentric theory. It was not until 1965 that the Catholic Church revoked its condemnation of Galileo.
In the Dark Ages, the Christian Church burned enormous amounts of literature, stifling education and creating a historical vacuum of knowledge in which it attempted to rewrite much of sociopolitical and scientific history. Christians burned entire libraries, including the legendary library of Alexandria which is said to have housed more than 700,000 ancient documents, and yet this was only a small fraction of the Christian path of destruction in regards to invaluable sources of knowledge that were not compatible with their falsely constructed ideologies. Latin classics, largely lost in Europe under Christian rule, would later be translated from Arabic back to Latin. Ancient academies of learning were closed by the Church, many of these being razed to the ground by the faithful. Education for anyone outside the Church came to an end. Common people were even forbidden to read the bible, the only book readily available under the Church’s domination. What little education remained within the hierarchy of the Church resulted in clergy becoming the only capable administrators of the governments of European kingdoms and empires, embedding monotheistic value systems within systems of governance.
Weakened over hundreds of years by a gradual conversion to Christianity (and many other outside forces), the Roman Empire was split in half- the Western Empire and the Eastern Empire, or Byzantium. As time went on, the Eastern Empire began to lose its domination over the ‘Holy Lands’ (modern day Israel/Palestine) to a growing Islamic influence, and eventually requested that the Western Empire assist it in reclaiming these lands- thus began the Crusades. The Crusades were a series of wars in which European Christians sought to end Islamic rule of the ‘holy land.’ The term ‘crusade’ is sometimes used to describe religiously motivated campaigns conducted between 1100 and 1600 in territories outside the Middle East, usually against Pagans, Jews, heretics, and excommunicated peoples for a mixture of religious, economic, and political reasons.
However, more often this term refers to nine separate (but sometimes overlapping) campaigns of invasion of the Middle East by Western Empire Christians during this period. Some of these military campaigns met with limited and temporary successes (which only embittered the victims of these wars and deepened sectarian divides in the region), while other campaigns were met with complete failure and massacre. Pope Urban II, the instigator of the crusades on behalf of the Western Roman Empire, promised material rewards for the crusaders, including feudal fiefdoms, land ownership, wealth, power, and prestige, all at the expense of the Arabs and Turks. In doing so, the Pope (who represents the mouthpiece of God on Earth for devout Catholics) promoted theft on a continental level. Pope Urban II told the crusaders that the Muslims and Turks could be defeated very easily by the Christian forces- an ignorant lie that led many gullible Christians to disaster and death. Pope Urban II's speech (addressing the council of Clermont in 1095) ranks as one of the most influential speeches ever made- it launched the ‘holy wars’ which would consume the minds and hearts of Western Europe for the next two hundred years.
During the Crusades, even Christian children were given swords and instructed to murder in the name of their God. The children’s crusade was a call to arms in France and Germany for prepubescent, adolescent, and teenage Christians, more ‘pure of sin’ than their adult counterparts, to march to and capture Jerusalem- most didn’t make it past Italy where their fellow Christians sold the exhausted and starving children into slavery (instead of helping them on their way to murder in God’s name).
Other crusades were much more traditional in their inception and undertaking, like those depicted in the book of Deuteronomy- lengthy sieges employing starvation tactics, rampant arson and rape, torture of prisoners, and the intentional spreading of communicable disease. In these encounters, entire cities of people were slaughtered.
The first crusade began with opportunistic mass exterminations of Jews as crusading Christians marched towards Jerusalem- this encounter ignited a long tradition of organized violence against Jews in European culture, culminating in the Holocaust of Nazi Germany. During this first crusade, Christians celebrated their capture of the city of Ma’arra with cannibalism- the crusaders, affected by their lack of provisions and frustrated by the lack of valuables to loot from the city, boiled Pagan adults in cooking-pots, and impaled Pagan children on spits to devour them grilled. During the fourth crusade, western (Roman Catholic) Christians turned on eastern (Greek Orthodox) Christians, laying siege to Constantinople and eventually burning and looting the city, which was the capital of the Eastern Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire). The tradition of Christian-on-Christian violence began with this attack and this tradition still continues today, most easily observable in the ongoing, sporadic sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics in the legacy of ‘The Troubles’ of Northern Ireland. (Interestingly, British military intelligence agents in Northern Ireland used fears about demonic possessions, black ma...