Asbestos Religion Thread

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by Alphadrop, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    Eh...kind of, but the Cathars were little more than a popular cult with some really crazy ideas, with 'holy men' essentially exploiting the believers. Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou is a very interesting read about one of those Southern French towns controlled by Cathars.
  2. Gonzalez

    Gonzalez Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Aug 21, 2004
    **PING** :P Just kidding.

    I am not saying I "believe" in spirituality, because I don't. I actually don't even believe in science, and that's because science is not about belief, but quite the opposite, it's about contrasting evidences, so you can't really "believe" in anything science says as in "have faith", you just take the theories that science creates, and you do it with a grain of salt, because you have to be completely open to the possibility that new evidence may appear and completely break an existing paradigm.

    That being said, I do think today's so called scientific approach gets very cocky at times with affirmations like "there is no spirituality whatsoever, I don't believe in imaginary friends" that we often hear, when it should say "there is at this time no evidence whatsoever of a spiritual world therefore we cannot say it exist". In science you must be very careful with your affirmations.

    So while I cannot actually "believe" in spirituality because of my way of reasoning, at the same time I am completely open to the possibility and cannot find myself in a position to deny it's existence. At most I can argue that spirituality has not yet been corroborated by scientific means, and if it's as ethereal as it's supposed to be, like in another plane of existence, I really don't see that happening even if it did existed.

    That's why I hate when people says science is the new religion, or even compares science with religion. Science is not a religion, is a method of reasoning, it has no point of comparison whatsoever at an elemental level, so one does not deny the other or vice versa, they are just two completely separate things.
  3. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    That's not really true at all. Or no more true than it was for Roman Catholicism, anyway. Catharism was a literate sect of Christianity and the majority religion in Languedoc, including both peasants and nobles, before they were exterminated by the Pope. Since every man, woman, and child was eradicated there was no one left to counter the church's propaganda.
  4. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    There have been plenty of credible historical works based on very reliable and largely unbiased works. Not every man, woman and child was eradicated anyway, though the religion was, by and large. Theoretically Catharism was many of those things you mention, but theory and practice are two different things. While they supposedly hated priesthood, Parfaits acted as priests within the Cathar religion - and unsurprisingly frequently took advantage of their position of power and esteem in ways that didn't fit their supposed theoretical roles.

    Again, as I mentioned, see Montaillou by Le Roy Ladurie, which really is an outstanding work of microhistory on the subject.
  5. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    Which means Catharism was the same as any other religion. At least they weren't selling indulgences. :)

    Proclaiming a genocidal crusade against the Cathars doesn't exactly fit the theoretical role of the Pontifex Maximus as earthly vicar of Jesus. IMHO, anyway.
  6. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    I'm not debating that, and that's neither here nor there. My point was that your depiction of the Cathars was much too rosy and not very realistic.
  7. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jul 15, 2008
    Euh, just to chime in on the Cathars.

    Ladurie's Montaillou is, by now, somewhat outdated. It's still a great read, but the original edition is from 1975 and that's not particularly cutting edge. A good work is Malcolm Lambert, The Cathars (Malden 1998).

    If you want a somewhat different take on the Albigensian Crusade and the Cathars, read: Mark Gregory Pegg, A Most Holy War. The Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom (New York 2008). I've actually written a review of the latter during a course on religious violence a few years ago. His position on the Cathars is somewhat shaky, but the evidence allows for his interpretation and his book is otherwise quite well founded, though arguably a bit too evocative. For a short overview of the book read:

    On the subject of religious warfare and violence a very good book is: Norman Housley, Religious Warfare in Europe, 1400-1536 (Oxford, 2008). He makes a very convincing argument on the topic of an apocalyptic fear amongst Christians, the idea that a corruption of one of their members could spread and would thus endanger Christendom as a whole.

    Edit: Heck I've been trying to edit my review into something somewhat shorter but...well, really, if anyone here is interested in Cathars, crusades, and religious warfare, it's actually one of my better pieces and, if I say so myself, quite an enjoyable read. So I've decided to just post the whole damn thing.


    As Dan Brown’s recent book, The Lost Symbol, once again makes clear, uncovering alleged esoteric knowledge remains as popular as ever; at least popular enough to support the tireless churning out of bestseller after bestseller. If we are to follow the reasoning of Mark Gregory Pegg in his latest monograph, A most holy war: The Albigensian Crusade and the battle for Christendom, the academic world has not been able to resist creating a similar stereotype on the subject of the Cathars. A secret Cathar church complete with bishops and its own anti-pope, gnostic beliefs, a Cathar Bible: all such elements are routinely mentioned in writings on the heretics of the Languedoc region.

    Yet their organizational structure, their Manichean dualism, and even their name are, according to Pegg, all based either on evidence tainted by an inquisitorial spirit or on evidence that is dubious in nature and has perhaps even been falsified. Continuing the argument from one of his earlier works, he states that rather than finding these heretics, inquisitors, clerics and crusaders created the Cathars by fitting them into a pre-existing antique model which dictated what constituted a heretic. Those identified as heretics were by their own communities termed as ‘good men’ (bons omes) or ‘good women’ (bonas femnas), people who were living a somewhat more religious and puritanical life, and who were being honoured by their communities through cortezia (courtliness or decorum). Honouring these people was a process of reciprocal giving and receiving holiness, an act that inquisitors subsequently identified with heretical adoration. In short, according to Pegg the Cathars existed only in the minds of those who fought them while they were actually more like a church reform movement.

    Elaborating on this idea, Pegg argues that the most prominent motive for crusaders committing themselves to the Albigensian Crusade was of a religious nature. Fired up by clerics and justified by popes, of whom especially Pope Innocent III was of crucial importance, crusaders became convinced that the Albigensian heresy was a poison spreading through the body of the Christian community. Seen as a gangrene limb that had to be amputated before it could, or rather would infect one’s own lands, heretics were to be killed as a precautionary measure. Being offered to ‘walk like Him’ the crusaders were called on to fight a Holy War for the very survival of Christendom itself. Within this dichotomy of a Christian world either divided and doomed or whole and healthy it was not just the Albigensians who fit the label of heretic. According to Pegg, the catholic cosmology of a sempiternal earth, created by God for Christians, rooted the belief that all time and space were Christian, which would eventually demand that Jews and Muslims were to be consistently classified as heretics as well, as no better than Albigensians. Hereticiziation, religious zeal, and an apocalyptical fear for the survival of Christendom as a whole thus ushered in the first European genocide: the Albigensian Crusade. Winning ground and credibility over time, this mixture became responsible for what Pegg argues to be the genesis of anti-semitism.

    The author thus portrays the Albigensian Crusade as a true pivotal moment in world history. Earlier similar events were either not directed at fellow Christians (the massacre of Jerusalem in 1099) or had not been supported by the Pope (the sack of Zara in 1202, the capture of Constantinople in 1204). The decisions of the Third Lateran Council in 1179 and the subsequent summer campaign against the Albigensian lands in 1181 are considered merely as a prelude to later events. It was only during the Albigensian Crusade and under the guiding auspices of Pope Innocent III that the wholesale slaughter of Christian communities became legitimized by marking them as heretics. The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 codified a set of anti-heretical regulations as canon and went on to specify a dress code for Jews and Muslims.

    All the while politics are not entirely rejected as a motive either. The book carries a cynical undercurrent that frequently alludes to political motives playing a role in the background. There can be little doubt that the French kings ended up as the main beneficiaries by being able to greatly expand their territory southwards, although they are constantly portrayed as reluctant supporters of the Albigensian Crusade. Similarly, Simon de Montfort, mainly depicted as a religious enthusiast, unquestionably had much to gain and little to lose by participating in such a sanctified conquest.

    Although controversial, Pegg’s book fits in well with recent trends of medieval research focused on heretics and religious warfare. For quite a while now it has been popular to problematize the definition of what actually constituted a heretic, moving away from the acceptance of a categorization dominated by the church’s final decision on the matter, and towards comparative analysis of religious movements and the processes that led either to their sanctification or hereticization. Pegg’s work takes this trend to its logical culmination, blurring the borders between the Cathars and other contemporary religious reform movements. Although this line of research is certainly fruitful, Pegg could have placed more emphasis on how this hereticization took place, according to what models the process played out, how these models came to be and changed, and most importantly how these models were used to deem one group heretical while another was sanctified. In that regard, we should certainly not forget or trivialize the doctrinal issues between the Albigensian heretics and the Catholic Church as if it was irrelevant to their hereticization. His work on the inquisitorial interrogation of 1245-1246 supports his argument, but it would be interesting to see a similar in-depth analysis of the period prior to and during the Albigensian Crusade.

    Another trend aims to put religion back into the Middle Ages and, of particular relevance for Pegg’s book, to put religion back into medieval warfare. Crusades have for a long time been interpreted as primarily motivated by political reasons; a view which has been deteriorating for a few decennia now and has had to give more and more room to religious drives. Especially the penitential aspect of a crusade, the Christ-like suffering endured during an armed pilgrimage against heretics has been given much weight by Pegg as well as others. The earlier mentioned apocalyptic anxiety which drove crusaders to fight for a united Christendom has received much attention as well, both with regard to the crusades in particular and as an aspect of religious warfare in general.
    Although the Albigensian Crusade can certainly be singled out as a fascinating process of religious warfare turning inwards, separating this event from the rest of history does not do it justice in light of its broader crusading context. The apocalyptic zeal has not been as exclusive to the Albigensian Crusade as Pegg would make it seem. It has been a consistent element of religiously inspired warfare, recurring before as well as after the Albigensian Crusade, and both within and outside of Christendom. Also, the focus on religious motivation sidesteps the political elements of the conflict. The author certainly does not deny their importance, yet the book would have benefitted from giving the political realm more explicit attention.

    Pegg’s broad assertions, while attractive, sometimes do away with peculiarities that thus remain unexplained. If the Cathars did not differ much from a religious reform movement, and heretics were interpreted in a predetermined antique framework, why was this same framework not used for all the nascent religious communities of this time, such as the Humiliati, the Waldensians, and even the Franciscans? Likewise, the use of the term genocide would require a more consistent crusader policy versus the Albigensian heretics. Why were some castra (fortified villages) slaughtered and sacked, while others escaped a successful siege almost unscathed? Indiscriminate slaughter of heretics and believers alike was defended by reasoning that true Christian victims would merely be sped onwards to heaven by their unfortunate and untimely death, while killing heretics was virtuous, praiseworthy and a necessity. Still, there was a reluctance to exercise this policy in all cases. Pegg makes it clear that much depended on the circumstances, such as the duration of a siege, the mood of the crusaders, and even the environment and weather, but these elements do little to support his insistence to term the Albigensian Crusade as genocide, or even as a string of holocausts.

    The often passionate style of the book makes for a stunning and gripping read, and it will undoubtedly draw the author much praise as well as flak. His use of the narrative comes with the dangers of a double edged sword. Sway too much in one direction, and the narrative cuts into the credibility of the academic argument, sway too much to the other side and the narrative becomes little else but sparkles of source material in a complex methodological structure. Pegg wields his pen with excruciating balance, weaving sources and argumentation together into a seamless account, and he certainly achieves his goal to leave behind a palpable taste of the past. He does however occasionally fill in gaps of information unsupported by source material, such as the exact time span of a conversation, or the mental state of some of his dramatis personae.

    Regardless of arguments over style and focus, Pegg has definitely presented a highly interesting, lucid, and controversial work that will spark off renewed interest and debates on the Cathars, the Albigensian Crusade, and heresy and religious warfare in general. Both entertaining and thought-provoking, readers might not entirely agree with Pegg’s conclusions, but neither will they find it easy to tear away from the book once a few pages have been turned.
  8. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    In the future I'll try and be more critical of cultures that were exterminated 1000 years ago. :roll:
  9. mobucks

    mobucks As a goof Orderite

    May 22, 2010
    I had'nt seen I've been pinged, okay then back to the surface.
    I heard a voice where there shouln't have been one. I was only a little scared when I heard it but immediately explained it in my head as
    That was untill I heard my friend who had been standing on the other side of the room say "Did anyone else just hear that?" I felt my heart sink. Theres a lot more to the story and Im sure the shord description leaves much room for doubt but the one thing that really sealed the deal was having someone there that also had the same experience and fear. . If one day I saw a ghost right there in front of me, I wouldnt say a thing. It would only become real and terrifying to me if another person was with me saying "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"