The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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Moist Towelette

May 25th, 2007 · No Comments · christianity, history, ritual

I haven’t given myself the time to really study anything in a while. Riding on airplanes provides a lot of time to read, and it’s really sparked a further round of heretical research better than anything I’ve really done in a while. I had to go back to my original notes, but now I’m hip on the Petrobruisians, the Waldenseans, and a whole mess of Ebionites, like the Elcasaites, the Ossaeans, and the Sethians.

Previous to this, I had thought that the nonsense regarding the ‘true nature of Christ’ was the apex of Christian debate. Now, I’m convinced that the efforts to wipe out the stain of the antipedobaptists represents the real high water mark. Critics of the medieval church looked to scripture and noticed a lack of precedent for infant baptism. There was a question of church principle involved regarding whether the act of baptism itself redeemed the soul, or rather the person must have first achieved a state of faith beforehand. Since the church was in the business of uniformly absorbing whole communities, they preferred to get ’em while they were young. Early reformers would refuse to baptise children, and would re-baptise adults upon confirmation of their faith.

The Catholics were insulted by the repeated baptisms, and would promptly drown anyone who admitted to have been baptised more than once. Unbaptised children, in the Medieval Catholic mind, were in danger of falling straight into hell at any moment, and they liked to sprinkle on that holy water upon them as soon as possible. Thus, “Who’s gonna save the children?!”, became an early Catholic cry for unity, and an excuse for a whole complex of ritual and taxation.

Currently, I’m fascinated by Peter the Venerable, and in my mind, there’s a germ of an idea about a film script involving him, Peter of Bruys, and Henri the monk in a web of intrigue between the Cathars and the Muslims, under the noses of the Medieval Catholic church. “Don’t worry Cardinal. The monk will be at Pete’s. Everybody comes to Pete’s.”

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