Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Cathars - by b

I was up earlier than everybody over the weekend in carcassonne so i thought i'd google a bit about the very cute (too-cute-for-me-but-i-understand-why-people-like-it) town.

i wasn't looking for a history lesson. as it is, i'm in the middle of a more-than-heavyish book about spanish history during and since the civil war... so i was thinking maybe i'd read about a place to have some lunch or see some art or something. something, you know, light.

thanks to wikipedia though i realized that we were staying in a region that some consider to be the site of the worst atrocity of the catholic church.

the cathars lived in this region of france. (emphasis on livED.. the last one was burnt at the stake in 1321). i'd never heard of them.. but i suppose if you pronounce my last name with a lisp.......

they were gnostics which is a term i'd heard but never read up on. now i did read about it -- and the basic tenet resonates with me in a certain way... the idea is that there are two gods... a totally pure peace- and love-loving "godhead" and a "demiurge" or a god of matter. it is the god of matter that created the world and human beings and, therefore, the power structures that we as humans have created. gnostics see love and power as totally incompatible. and they see humans as being trapped in the "prison of matter" until we can eventually work towards a pure spiritual place.

the pope (actually popes) at the time weren't too fond of gnostics. it was a theological thing (think about it.. if matter is a bad thing, what's that make jesus?).. but also it was a power thing. cathars in this region were numerous enough and, despite their ascetism, plugged in with the nobility.

successive popes were pissed,  especially Innocent III (who was nothing but)

a couple popes had failed to convert the cathars to a more acceptable form of christianity through kinder and gentler means -- including the creation of the dominican order to seemingly meet the cathars on their terms... dominic himself said "zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility" .. of course he went on to say "false sanctity by real sanctity". i guess the cathars saw thru the guy

anyway.. innocent III would have none of this.. it'd been going on for too long

so he got a crusade going --- and also an inquisition

neither were particularly good things to be on the receiving end of

if you were even rumored to be a heretic you could be called in front of the inquisitor ... and then you were in a catch 22 (that is a great understatement).. you were either guilty or guilty... you either were either killed (burned at the stake to show you (reallly to show everybody watching) the fires of hell and how heretics go directly there) or you were made to repent...



one of these...

yellow signs

on your...


how's your lisp?