The Christianizing of Europe

The Closing Mind

The Insanity Begins

Jesus Never Existed – The Criminal History of the Christian Church


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Kenneth Humphreys

 


30.10.11

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"We Don't Need No Education"

"In the person whose mind is sound there is no need for letters."

St Anthony – Christian fanatic from the Egyptian desert – rejects education.

 

 

 

Better Days

Kids at school in pre-Christian Egypt

A bit of a Slap?

"per molestias eruditio" ("true education begins with physical abuse")

– St Augustine (Cahill, p65)

 

 

 

No Choice

"Heresy is named in the Greek from its meaning of choice, since each at his own will chooses what he pleases to teach or believe.

But we are not permitted to believe anything of our own will, nor to choose what someone has believed of his.

We have God's apostles as authorities ... And so, even if an angel from heaven shall preach otherwise, he shall be called anathema."

– Isidore of Seville, 6th/7th century Church Father, Bishop and Saint. (Etymologies – On heresy Chapter 3)

 

 

 

Inmates Running the Asylum

Up the Pole – Simeon Stylites (390-459)

Simeon left a monastery near Antioch to live on a 6' pillar. He moved on to ever-higher structures, until eventually he took up residence on a 60' column.

He supposedly spent 30 years on top this pillar – fed by his adoring fans. His groupies collected offerings and sold his excrement.

Simeon impressed the slightly less insane with the 'piety of suffering.'

"Twice daily Simeon would interrupt his prayer to listen to individuals or to address the crowds. He pronounced on problems of orthodoxy and heresy and his opinions were sought at the ecumenical councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. Empress, elites and peasants alike wanted his advice, prophecies and judgments,"

– Kevin Butcher, Roman Syria, p392,

The pillars of the stylites – yes, Simon's antics inspired other nutters – may have influenced the minarets of Islam.

 

 

 

 

Bird Brained superstars

"Some ascetics became boskoi, 'grazers', living in the open without proper clothing, eating grass, nuts, berries and roots, like animals.

Others loaded themselves with heavy chains. The Mesopotamian 'dendrite' David perched like a bird in a tree at Thessalonica in Greece.

The unusual behaviour could lead to iconic, superstar status."

– Kevin Butcher, Roman Syria, p392,

 

 

 

 

"Important Discoveries in Theology ..."!

447: Council of Toledo ratifies Devil as "a large black monstrous apparition with horns on his head, cloven hoofs ... an immense phallus and sulphurous smell".

Council Edict from Toledo, Visigothic Spain

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

The Reign of Ignorance

“Scripture gives no false information.”
St Augustine
Lets see:

• speaking serpent?
• woman made of rib?
• worldwide flood covering mountain tops?
• Methuselah living 969 years?
• Israelite population going from 70 to several million in 400 years? Suggests an awful lot of fornication ...!
• Sun standing still so Joshua can get all his killing done before night fall?
• Samson ripping a lion apart?
• Goliath 10 feet tall?
• Amalekites "utterly destroyed" three times?
• Giants, unicorns, dragons and satyrs?
• Devils cast out of men and into pigs?

– and that's just for starters!
 

 

 

 

 

Iconoclasm ...

The god Min gets an adjustment
Before ... and After Christ!

 

 

 

 

 

Wisdom Shall Perish

"Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder : for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid."

Isaiah, 29:14

 

 

 

Last of the Line



Flavius Cassiodorus (490-585) praetorian prefect in Italy during the quasi-Roman reign of Theodoric.

A classically educated rhetorician, Cassiodorus pleaded the cause of the Gothic kingdom for 30 years (Chronica, Variae).


Despairing of the ruin of Italy by Justinian, Cassiodorus withdrew into 'religious reflection'.

His 'school of Christian studies' at Rome was a short-lived failure, and a 'monastery' (Vivarium) – inspired by the Nestorian seminary at Nisibis – on his family estates at Squillace on the Ionian Sea scarcely survived his death.

 

 

 

 

 

No Books Needed

"You will find more in forests than in books. Woods and stones will teach you more than any master."

– St. Bernard of Clairvaux – Inspiration behind the Second Crusade (1090-1153).

 

 

 

 

Devil in disguise?

The glowing eyes and nocturnal behaviour of the cat were interpreted by the medieval Church as clear proof of the hapless moggy's diabolic affinity.

Wholesale destruction of cats hastened the spread of plague-carrying rats.

 

 

 

 

Christianity grew in a world noted for its intellectual speculation. The pagan empire of Rome – with its great cities, its roads, the peace protected by its legions, made many things possible, including Christianity – a 'Divine Providence' the Church Fathers were pleased to acknowledge. The arts, philosophy, law, science and technology – all attained remarkable levels of development, thanks to the Pax Romana and its vibrant Hellenic culture.

But the same fertile environment also favoured the proliferation of 'magic and mysteries' – charlatanism, cults, sooth-saying and nonsense. The very richness of this cosmopolitan world, which enthusiastically assimilated so many diverse cultures, meant that even a movement known by the general rubric of 'Christianity' – to the disgust of the intolerant St Augustine – emerged as 'eighty three heresies'. Sadly, each rival variant held itself to be the one 'truth'.

 

St Paul's Celebration of Ignorance

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ ...
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness ...
But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant ... For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise."

– Colossians 2.8, 1 Corinthians.

 

Constantine Imposes 'Truth'

Part of the tragedy for humanity was that the disingenuous Constantine thought that he could impose a single 'truth' or 'Faith' on the empire in the same manner that he could impose a tax law.

For a century after Constantine's revolution, the 'battle of ideas' was waged yet secular tolerance ultimately could be no match to a fanatical intolerance.

"What purpose does knowledge serve – for as to knowledge of natural causes, what blessing is there for me if I should know where the Nile rises, or whatever else under the heavens the 'scientists' rave about?"


Thus wrote Lucius Lactantius (Freeman, p322), the first Latin 'theologian' and propagandist for Constantine. Appointed tutor to the emperor's son Crispus – a job he lost when Constantine had his son executed for adultery with his stepmother – Lactantius recorded that Constantine was "a model of Christian virtue and holiness" (De Mortibus Persecutorum).

In the Brave New World of the Christian empire, in which scientific rationalism was to be condemned as demonic, Constantine's despotism and Lactantius's sycophantic lies were indeed 'model' for what was to come.

 

Like Father, Like Son

Under the influence of a fanatic from Alexandria, Bishop Athanasius, Constantine's youngest son Constans I (337-350) extended state-sanctioned intolerance by banning pagan sacrifice in Italy and waging a campaign against the Donatists in Africa. It ignited a civil war which would wreck the prosperity of Rome's North African provinces.

The Donatist doctrines were declared illegal. Their crime? – resisting the centralising authoritarianism of Catholicism. Proscribed in 405 and again in 411 they remained a subversive 'true church' until the 7th century arrival of Islam, even spinning off an armed resistance movement – the Circumcellions.

"What has the Emperor to do with the Church?" asked the doomed Donatus.

Meanwhile, in the east, Constantius II, a fool terrified of sorcery and manipulated by a succession of rival bishops – Eusebius, Macedonius, Ursacius – waged a campaign against 'soothsayers and Hellenists'. In the 340s the banishment of pagan intellectuals began, followed by the first burning of books of 'magic.'

In 353 Constantius ordered the closure of 'heathen' temples and made pagan sacrifice a capital offence. Close by the abandoned temples workshops were established to reduce the holy architecture of the pagans to lime. In gratitude for their destruction of 'idols' Constantius exempted monks from taxation.

 

Vicious: The Death of Tolerance

"What does it matter by which wisdom each of us arrives at the truth?
It is not possible that only one road leads to so sublime a mystery."

– A plea from one of the last pagan senators, Aurelius Symmacus, to the boy emperor Valentinian II in 383, asking for freedom of thought.

"What you are ignorant of, we know from the Word of God. And what you try to infer, we have established as truth from the very Wisdom of God."

– Bishop Ambrose replies on behalf of the emperor.

(Charles Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind, p234)

 

Thrown into disarray by Christianity's 4th century civil war (Arian vs. Catholic) and the renaissance of paganism inspired by Emperor Julian, the Catholic theocracy re-established by Emperor Theodosius and Bishop Ambrose was determined to quash any and all opposition.The brief reign of Julian (360-3) had seriously alarmed Church hierarchs. It had raised the spectre of their worst fear – a successful pagan 'counter-revolution.'

A resurgent, intolerant orthodoxy condemned out of hand contrary opinion and the rule of Christian fanatics narrowed ever-tighter the focus of human enquiry. On 27th February 380, Christianity was declared the exclusive religion of the Roman empire.

With the renewed triumph of Christ, the age of intellectual speculation drew to a close. Over the course of the next twenty years Theodosius issued a raft of draconian anti-pagan laws in which any disagreement with Christian dogma was declared "insane" and subject to harsh penalty. Libraries were looted and burned. Recalcitrant pagans lost their employment and property. Throughout the empire, officially sanctioned mobs attacked anything – human or material – that might harbour the possibility of rekindling non-Christian thought.

From the Church, austere demagogue John Chrysostom attacked not only secular intellectuals (sophia ellenike), pagans and Jews but also sex, music and 'worldliness.'

The 'philosophers' – the teachers and scholars of the pagan intelligentsia which had schooled the Church Fathers and given them the very language in which they hammered out the theology of Christ – were castigated and condemned.

He went too far - he was banished for offending the indulgences of the court – but his intolerant fanaticism (in his youth he had been an anchorite, living in a cave) – had followers in Cappadocia.

 

Silencing the East: The Cappadocian Fathers

'It should be enough for you to know that there is a good shepherd who gave his soul for his sheep ... How big God is, what His limits are, and of what essence ... such questions are dangerous ... they shall be taken care of with silence.' – St Basil


The Godfathers of CappadociaGregory of Nazianzus, and the bothers from Nyssa, Basil and Gregory – initially spearheaded the attack on the Arian faction. With the rout of the Arians at the Council of Constantinople in 381, the Cappadocian brotherhood slammed shut the door of further theorising. Their call was for silence.

"God was unknowable"; a difference of opinion from the Church – merely thinking for oneself – was 'the Sin of Pride.'

 

Rare photograph of the Cappadocian Godfathers

The Cappadocian Fathers

Pacifiers of the Eastern Church


Basil 'the Great', Bishop of Caesarea (329-379); his brother, Gregory of Nyssa (died 385); and Gregory of Nazianzus (325-389), who made patriarch in Constantinople.

All came from wealthy families and had a privileged education in Athens (where they were fellow students of the future emperor Julian!) They saw off the challenge from Antioch to produce a sterile 'Orthodoxy' in the eastern Roman empire.

'Let us Christians prefer the simplicity of our faith to the demonstrations of human reason ... For to spend much time on research about the essence of things would not serve the edification of the Church.'

– St Basil.


Basil was the 'Ambrose' of the eastern church, challenging secular authority and building a power base upon a network of monasteries. Basil did more than anyone to get the Holy Spirit promoted to God, trouncing the efforts of the so-called "Pneumatomachi."

Basil's younger brother Gregory was a bit of a lightweight. His writings include a treatise "On Virginity", written about 370 AD and a doctrine on the temporary nature of hell ("Apocatastasis") – not one that went down well with the management. He disappeared shortly after being sent to repress ecclesiastical disorder in Arabia.

Gregory of Nazianzus, son of a bishop, refused to visit the see to which Basil had appointed him and secured the top job in Constantinople. He successfully campaigned for the Trinity and against the Arians in the city and then retired to his country estates where he wrote a great deal of poetry.

 

 

The Closed Mind

"All the volumes that move God to wrath and that harm the soul we do not want to come to men's hearing."

– Thus declared Emperor Theodosius II (408-450) (Grant, The Fall of the Roman Empire, p162).

Secular learning was on trial. It distracted the human mind from a proper reverence for the 'sublime mystery of God'; it put the 'immortal soul' in jeopardy. Moreover, it posed a danger to the stability of God's order on earth. Secular study was condemned and sentenced to death. With its execution, the scientific principles known to the ancients, rationalised and formulated over centuries, were discarded, replaced by crude superstition and a mean, sterile dogma.

The worst excesses of human psychosis were realised in a new, elaborate "demonology" and mythology of "witchcraft" which emanated from the fanatic minds of churchmen. The Christians believed in the old gods – they simply metamorphosed them into demons.

 

Greek Pan (Roman Sylvanus) – god of flocks and herds.

This goat-man god was fond of his shepherd's pipe, music and dance.

Far too lusty for a Christian empire – chosen as role model for Old Nick himself.

In June of 423 Empress Pulcheria, elder sister of Theodosius, and in the thrall of her bishops, declared that the practices of the pagans were nothing more than “demon worship” and ordered that all those who persisted be imprisoned and tortured. The mere possession of a work of classic literature ran the risk of being taken as proof that the possessor was a 'witch' or a 'necromancer'.

 

The Thumb Screws Tighten

The Emperors Justin and Justinian ...

It is our intention to restore the existing laws which affect the rest of the heretics of whatever name they are, and we label as heretic whoever is not a member of the Catholic Church and of our Orthodox and Holy Faith; likewise the pagans who attempt to introduce the worship of many gods, and the Jews and the Samaritans ...

We forbid any of the above-mentioned persons to aspire to any dignity or to acquire civil or military office or to attain to any rank.”

(Codex Justinian 1i,5,12 - 527 AD)


Justinian's long reign (527-565) marked the tortured end of the late Roman Empire. His own peasant origins, and the ferocious determination of his empress wife - the ex-prostitute Theodora – gave a particular vicious edge to his policies. Nephew of a career soldier who had himself made guard commander and emperor (Justin), Justinian followed the same route (murdering his nearest rival Vitalian along the way.)

Early targets of the pious monarch were the Samaritans and Manichaeans; a law ordered their synagogues destroyed and took away their right to bequeath property to the non-orthodox. A revolt followed, brutally suppressed, and 20,000 Samaritans were sold into slavery. Soon after, a similar law was enacted against the Jews themselves.

Recalcitrant pagans also felt the whip. Pagans were barred from the civil service, baptized Christians who lapsed back into paganism were to be put to death, as were any persons caught making secret sacrifice to the gods. Pagan teachers were denied stipends from the imperial treasury and if they would not accept baptism, they lost their property and were exiled.

The closure of the pagan stronghold – the School of Athens – inevitably followed (529). The last of the philosophers fled to the court of Persian King Chosroes I (founder of a medical school at Gondeshapur) with one happy consequence, that all of Plato's works were translated into Persian.

In his treaty of "Endless Peace" with Justinian in 532 Chosroes stipulated that these philosophers should have the right to practice their religion unmolested within the empire. It seems they were.

But in the Empire of Christendom, the intellectuals had been silenced.

 

Whitewashing the Dark Ages

Some Common Christian Apologetics

DENIAL – 'The Dark Ages were not actually that gloomy at all.'

Christian apologists try to have it both ways.

Firstly they blame the 'barbarian hordes' for the collapse of civilization – and then argue that there was no real collapse anyway!

The artistry of the pagans is claimed for Christendom – yet at the same time, their fantasy has noble Christian lords and jolly peasants in sunny, rural idylls – not abandoned cities, pestilence and millions sunk in ignorance and suffering (Into the Darkness)


FALSEHOOD – 'Christianity preserved literacy and learning.'

'Pious monks in remote fastnesses copying the Classics'?

Do not believe a word of it! Remote they may have been, pious perhaps. Illiterate and indolent for the most part, they re-used (and thus 'preserved') ancient parchments because of the scarcity of new parchment.

Washing off ancient wisdom, and copying without understanding their biblical fables, they excelled at adding pictures and calligraphy based on pre-Christian tribal motifs. Actually, it was the neglected archives of Byzantium and the schools of Islam that preserved much of classic learning, which trickled into western Europe, particularly after the 13th century. (Christianizing the Heathen)


FANTASY – 'A Renaissance occurred around 800 AD under Charlemagne.'

The glorification of the murderous warlord from Aachen is scandalous.

Charlemagne waged continuous warfare to establish a tenuous hold on lands all the way from Barcelona to the Elbe but evidence of Carolingian civil society is 'miniscule' to say the least! The 'empire' disintegrated shortly after the warlord's death. (Withering of Culture)


AUDACIOUS NONSENSE – 'Christianity actually fostered and encouraged science.'

This particular deceit is based upon the Church's monopoly of medieval schooling.

Pioneers of science were nearly always in religious orders simply because without the possession of private wealth no avenue for study existed outside of the Church. Usually heretical in their opinions, 'monkish scientists' often lost their sinecures and fell foul of the Inquisition.

But the ridiculous contention conceals a much bigger truth: it was the works of Islamic scholars which provided the catalyst for the European Renaissance. (Civilization)

 

 

Sources:
Charles Freeman, The Closing of The Western Mind (Heinemann, 2002)
Keith Hopkins, A World Full of Gods (The Free Press, 2000)
Peter Roberts, In Search of Early Christian Unity (Vantage, 1985)
Friedrich Heer, The Fires of Faith (Newsweek Books, 1973)
Alan Alford, When the Gods Came Down (Hodder & Stoughton, 2000)
Frank Delaney, A Walk in the Dark Ages (Fontana, 1990)
John Julius. Norwich, Byzantium, The Early Centuries (Viking, 1988)

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2004 by Kenneth Humphreys.
Copying is freely permitted, provided credit is given to the author and no material herein is sold for profit.