Friday, February 15, 2013

Cathars and Baptism

 
    Before becoming sidetracked by the Armenian Apostolic Church, the East India Company and how Walking Stewart might have acquired his Armenian Private Soldier's tunic,  I had briefly decided that my current preoccupation with Popes, Saints, understandings of the Christian God and God in general, could be drawn to a constructive conclusion  through a study of Forms of Baptism.  I went so far as to consider listing them, assigning them to particular congregations, or is it denominations. And I thought a place to start might be with the Jewish word "mickveh."  Which I thought would have an equivalence to Christian practice and which suits the ancientness of our relationship with water.  And here I took John The Baptist as the provisional driver along the road toward some sort of end place, or lay by, or rest area, that might enable me to concentrate better upon the more fruitful tree of springtime that will soon be upon us, with its shovel and weeding.  A big mistake on my part, because in matters of the spirit, for those drawn to define it, pretty much everything becomes an exhausting controversy that makes the existentialist appear as a confluence of  good humor and fair dealing.  Interesting to me is the possibility that because theology deals with a belief in the unknowable, and once that belief is stated as fact a certain irrational temper sets in, which then oozes across the boundaries in order for thinking to retain a semblance of cohesion.  One result of this ooze is to make some of us sound a little foolish sometimes, or stubborn perhaps, or maybe a touch deranged, or persuades us to carry banners and utter phrases on the street corner, or feature in unsanctioned videos sounding like a mental patient.

     All the same, if I think of the Cathar attempting to emulate the infinite, and if I place him upon the seat beside me instead of somewhere in the distant past, or another county, I have also to know that within his community of Cathars, it is their opinion of him that he relishes, not mine.  So I guess 'Baptism' should be seen primarily as a moment within a community, and whether it is a moment of purification or of joining, is almost irrelevant.  In other words, it doesn't really matter what form baptism might take, so long as it does service to idea, or provides a physiotherapy of mind as some argue.  The Establishment of a Church within a wider society, sets the rule for how everyone exercises.   The disgruntled can then define themselves by changing the form of something like 'Baptism.'  Which causes rift, founding of colonies and the panoply, or nightmare, depending upon perspective.  I have no memory of it, but I believe I was politely 'sprinkled while an infant.'  Not 'fully immersed' or 'dunked three times.'  Nor did I have to wait until I could 'think for myself,' which of course is something that never really happens, unless you are completely beyond this earth.  Meanwhile, there is John the Baptist.  He'd arrived at a conclusion that an end time was nigh, and to prepare for the big day he started baptizing volunteers in the River Jordan.  It was preparation by a cleansing or repentance of sin or evil deeds, it was a mickveh. There are some who will tell you that one of the volunteers was Jesus. And there are others who will tell you that at the River Jordan on that busy day, there was a debate between Jesus and John as to which one of them should baptize the other.  Me, I'm going out on a bit of a limb, because I've decided John baptized Jesus. I say this, because once upon this earth, whether you are the Son of God or not, you are guilty of something and always will be.  Which makes me a Cathar Novitiate, I'd guess.


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