Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cathars and Separatists

     Cathars, who in Southern France were known as Albigensians, held the view that the universe comprised a duality.  But unlike Pythagoreans, Cathars thought the earth, or material things, were the creation of Satan, or an Evil One, rather than moments of harmony within the infinite that were possibly open to manipulation, improvement or some form of better understanding.  For Cathars, God was pure spirit.  He was unspoiled by matter, or earthliness, passion, lust and so on.  Nor did he eat meat, or procreate.  Cathars claimed that we people, being comprised of matter, where essentially all bad, rotten and pointless and so was everything else upon our planet.  Our object, therefore, was to become perfect, or as much like God as possible.  Believing as they did that matter was the creation of Evil, the Cathar view of the Eucharist, the bread and wine of communion with God, quickly put them at odds with the Established Church.  No way for a Cathar, could either wine or bread be conceived of as spirit, and such was the Cathar concept of dualism they felt  Jesus himself had to have been more like an Angel than a Son of God.  During crusades against Cathars, it was possible to avoid being burnt at the stake if you could prove to your inquisitor that you were married.  But so far as I can tell, the diet of a suspected Cathar, was not taken into consideration, so I guess things like platefuls of Pork Sausage and a mustard pot never entered the interrogation chamber. 


    In Southern France Cathars became extinct not as a result of a strict adherence to their peculiar beliefs, but because they became associated with a nationalistic fervor that sought independence from the French Crown. The crusade against the Albigensian Cathars, became a political matter that suited both the Established Church and French Kings and Profiteers.  Worth  recalling that before the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United Sates (around 1791) former colonies had their own Established Churches.  All except the colony dominated by Quakers and the colony of Rhode Island, which was founded by a preacher called Roger Williams who had been exiled by the Congregationalist colony of Massachusetts after being tried and convicted of sedition and heresy.  Kind of like Socrates, he'd been broadcasting 'diverse, new and dangerous opinions.'  The Meeting House where Roger Williams preached, which was his own home in Providence Rhode Island, became what is most likely the  first 'Six Principle Baptist Church' in the American Colonies.  The year was 1652 and Roger Williams would have been considered a Liberal, an Abolitionist and a Free Thinker.  He was also a "Separatist" in matters of spirit, which means that he wanted a "wall of separation" between "the garden of Christ" and the "Wilderness of the World."  And worth wondering whether something like a Bible in a bank would have earned a rebuke from him.


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