As this new report confirms, most people accused of heresy by the Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentences suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely left the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Inquisition did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense, not the Church. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.
By the mid 16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. Europe's Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England, may not have been as militarily mighty, but they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous "Black Legend" of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil.
Protestant propaganda that took aim at the Spanish Inquisition drew liberally from the Black Legend. But it had other sources as well. From the beginning of the Reformation, Protestants had difficulty explaining the 15-century gap between Christ's institution of His Church and the founding of the Protestant churches. Catholics naturally pointed out this problem, accusing Protestants of having created a new church separate from that of Christ. Protestants countered that their church was the one created by Christ, but that it had been forced underground by the Catholic Church. Thus, just as the Roman Empire had persecuted Christians, so its successor, the Roman Catholic Church, continued to persecute them throughout the Middle Ages. Inconveniently, there were no Protestants in the Middle Ages, yet Protestant authors found them there anyway in the guise of various medieval heretics. In this light, the medieval Inquisition was nothing more than an attempt to crush the hidden, true church. The Spanish Inquisition, still active and extremely efficient at keeping Protestants out of Spain, was for Protestant writers merely the latest version of this persecution. Mix liberally with the Black Legend and you have everything you need to produce tract after tract about the hideous and cruel Spanish Inquisition.
So, instead we'll have to tell horror stories about Japanese teachers:
He said the boy was taken to the staff room of the school in Fukuoka City, southern Japan, after being caught asleep during a lesson. The 40-year-old male teacher handed the boy a box-cutter and paper and told him to write an apology in blood.
The teacher left the student, who then cut his finger and began to write an apology using his own blood.
In other news, did anyone know that the Jews have saints of a sort? I knew that some Muslim groups had intercessors, but hadn't heard of it amongst the Hebrews:
There was certainly a carnival atmosphere this year, the whiff of a Lourdes for romance rather than healing. Along the sun-baked walk twisting up to the stone-block structure housing the tomb there were vendors, some with prayer fringes, hawking amulets, candles, CD's and kiddush cups. There were panhandlers with a variety of hard-luck stories. There was klezmer music over a loudspeaker, and barbecued food.
Inside the shrine were men and women, crowded into compartments on opposite sides of the tomb, holding battered books of Psalms and swaying and murmuring with fervor, many pressing their fingers tightly against the faded blue velvet covering Rabbi Yonatan's resting place. On the men's side blasts of the shofar cut the air; on the women's side ululations of grief could be heard.
But there was also the plain longing of people who had never found love or had erred in love and hoped still to find it, and of parents who were suffering because their children were alone.
The rabbi seems to have a wicked sense of humor:
She said that although she often dated, she prayed at the grave five years ago, asking simply for marriage, and was rewarded with a husband. They were divorced after a year, though, and now she is back to offer a subtly different prayer. "Now I'll ask to get married to the right one," she said.
Speaking of witty intercessors, with the way the Anglican Communion is going, they might get to ask for the prayers of St. Homer. If Abp. Rowan does appear on the show, I hope he gets to canonize some of the residents. Otherwise, I'm not sure it would be in fitting with the rest of the Anglicans's shenanigans.
And finally, if that's not ridiculous enough for you, try rewriting the OED in limericks.....
With tap dancing a problem is posed
Ditto with picking his nose
He cannot wear rings
Do tip-toes or hand springs
He's adactylous :- no fingers or toes.