Categories
Journal

Journal Entry 12.13.19

It is 10:49 AM on Friday December 13th, 2019. I finally have time to take a breath as the past two weeks have been a complete blur of work and events.

Last week was our national sales meeting and holiday party in Texas. Including travel time that takes up a big 4 day chunk and is a very busy affair. I had made the mistake of scheduling a bunch of meetings on the Monday and Tuesday this week which meant I had to get the preparation done before our sales meeting. Then from Wednesday until today was spent digging myself out of the work that had accumulated.

I always have in my mind that the holidays will be a relaxing time but they never are: they are actually busier times than usual!

In addition to work we had our usual karate, a school concert and went to see the Nutcracker last night. It has been most likely a decade since I last saw the show and my kids had never seen it. This production was extra special as the daughter of our family friends was in it! She did a great job and is becoming a fantastic ballerina.

It was a nice night out as we never go out on the town. We first went to pick up my wife’s renewed passport which meant we had to be in the center of SF during rush hour. We had plenty of time so there was no stress but I really do not see how people who work there could put up with such congestion everyday. I would move and do any type of work elsewhere to not have to deal with that mess all the time.

We were meeting our friends at 5:00 for ramen but were very early so went to city hall to have a look around and take a picture or two. We then went to Nojo ramen and it was certainly one of the best ramen shops in San Francisco. After that it was to the Nutcracker which ended around 9:00 PM and meant we didn’t get to bed until 11. That is very late for all of us so we’re a bit sluggish today.

It is nice to take a moment here at the end of the year to reflect on another year almost over and how quickly time goes. We passed by our old street (Bush St.) in San Francisco yesterday and I realized it has been about 10 years since we lived there. Today I am 42 and tomorrow I will be 52. Life goes too quickly and with the fast paced society we live in we need time to reflect.

Part of my reflection is how much the Trump presidency has influenced my own thinking. Reading the news always brings negative thoughts and for a guy who was once proudly American I know realize the truth. America is a business, we are not a team and the purpose of this country is to gain profit at all costs be damned the consequences. To realize how much my thinking has changed in a relatively short time is incredible to me.

I’m still very much confused about how many of my countrymen (now understood to be competitors) can support such a nasty person for President. I think about this but then my confusion lessened when I look at our society. This is the society of Jerry Springer, the society where shows like Desperate Housewives can thrive. A good chuck of the conversation centers around sports. How many times some guy put a ball somewhere is a serious matter and can cause heated tempers!

Then I think about religion and what a farce that is. There are a lot of mangers going up this season and they depict a splendidly white Jesus who could easily pass for an American! God forbid their depictions of Jesus were historically accurate. No, the Americans want a white Jesus while the Mexicans prefer a darker Virgin of Guadalupe. That is much more preferable than a white image of a man who looks like a conquistador who came and decimated their way of life hundreds of years ago.

Historically Accurate Jesus

I don’t want to get into all of the history. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to travel and learn as much as I have. But in doing so I also now feel more alone, unable to talk with most people about anything of substance. Guys my age mostly want to talk sports or business.

But I do have this blog, where I can record my thoughts and feelings. In summary, two of the primary influences in life, politics and religion, seem to have gone off the rails. President Orange, the billionaire, cheater, narcissist is President and half of Americans love him. Meanwhile they go to their churches to worship a white Jesus, who preached against all the things President Orange does, while simultaneously disliking groups from where Jesus lived.

This is such a stupid time in America.

Side note. In the paper today there was a “Worship Directory” where different churches are advertised. It is really something to think that everyone in all those different churches think their faith is the correct one. It is like Americans can be completely rational people except when it comes to religion and politics.

“Come to the Mountain of Blessings!” one of the advertisements said. First of all this little church is located on some podunk street without a mountain in sight. And blessings? Yes, some magical benefits that will come raining down from the sky if you just come and listen to Pastor Hayseed from small town Ohio tell you all of the divine secrets. I swear churches make up the most ridiculous slogans. I once saw a slogan to “Wear Jesus Christ.” I poked a bit of fun at it and a nun decided to explain to me in all seriousness what it meant. I used to think the church was beyond reproach and priests and nuns were wise and all knowing. Now they are like lost little children to me playing make believe as much as they like.

I truly am alone in a culture such as this. Praise the Spaghetti Monster I live near San Francisco where although there is plenty of nonsense, it is of a different sort.

Before I go, one of my old high school acquaintances posted on social media that if you do not believe in Jesus then why celebrate Christmas? I responded that he should first remove his Christmas tree which has origins in a pagan tradition. Secondly scholars do not know when Jesus was actually born. Finally, in order to convert people Christianity incorporated then modified the many mid-winter festivals. So really, it makes more sense to celebrate the ancient mid-winter festivals than a guy whose birth date we do not even know. But this is too much information. Better get back to sports and worshiping a white Jesus that looks like he came from Wisconsin.

Categories
Politics

Authority!

At 42 years of age my understanding of authority has evolved and I wanted to get these thoughts down.

When you’re a kid there are people you just have to obey without question. This would include: your parents, teachers, priests, adults and now that I think about it, just about everyone except other kids. We are programmed to bow to authority from a very young age. This programming changes somewhat as we grow older. We realize we don’t need to obey everyone anymore but many ‘authority figures’ still hold much power over adults whether they consciously accept it or not.

In my line of work I deal with people who hold positions of authority in large, well-known companies. In the business world these relationships are mostly cordial but there are times when the ‘authority’ aspect starts to creep in to negotiations. These take the form of something like this.

“I work for so and so famous company, I’ve done it for decades, negotiations like these are done in my sleep and due to all of my incredible experience I know what I’m doing and you will need to do this because I am the expert!”

When I was younger this might have been intimidating and I would have been unsure of myself. This approach might work with a lot of adults but with 13 years of experience and having a lifetime of learning, world travels and other character building activities, this type of power play doesn’t have much of an effect on me anymore. I simply state my case with plenty of numbers to back it up, in a nice, cordial way. I offer to help where I can while putting a stake in the ground to let them know I’m not budging and have the data to show why.

I’m going through this type of interaction this week and it made me think about other parts of life where people put on a stance of authority in the belief it will make a person acquiesce to their will. It make me think about the nature of authority as well. The truth is spelled out beautifully by a Game of Thrones quote.

“Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick. A shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow

Lord Varys

This is true in the philosophical sense and on the scale of society as a whole but not so for the individual.

Let’s back up and talk about childhood again. When you’re a kid everyone is an authority figure except kids the same age. Everyone holds power over you. You live with your parents and they feed, clothe and shelter you. They are the foundation of the power structure, the providers and protectors in a world you know very little about. You have to go to school everyday and must do what they say as well otherwise they can kick you out. If they kick you out then you’re in trouble with the parents. Even older kids are authority figures because they have more life experience and are physically stronger. They can make you do something and if you don’t could make your life very difficult.

As adults we start to question ‘authority,’ yet this programming is very hard to undo and ‘authority’ still very much retains influence over the majority of adults.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Religious leaders – Adults for the most part will still do what their religious leaders tell them to. It is as though their common sense is checked at the door when they enter a church. Here they are, fully grown thinking adults worshiping some unseen, unknown “God” because religious leaders told them too since birth. God is the ultimate authority and these religious folk are the representatives of God. The laypeople need guidance and you must get that through the priest! Don’t think you can just do it on your own, you need to be at church, tithe 10% of your salary and don’t mess up or you could be excommunicated aka not allowed to talk to God anymore. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? That is because it is ridiculous. And it is absolutely depressing how many adults (albeit older adults) still believe in this nonsense.
  2. Political Leaders – This has changed in the past decade. Political leaders held much more authority before but it depends on which ‘team’ you’re on now. People will more fiercely obey the leaders of their own team while ridiculing everything about the leaders of the other team. This is evident in having a con-man like Trump in the Presidency. He could beat up a woman in the oval office and his supporters would probably say how it was totally acceptable to do so and pull out an example from the Old Testament. I bet if he told his followers to boycott flower shops because flowers are for Liberals that half his base probably would!
    But on a more sinister note, just look at every time America goes to war. The reasoning doesn’t really matter, it is the authority figures that said we have to go to war so a large portion of Americans will be all for it. Hell, ask any American on the street if they are in favor of bombing (insert made up foreign sounding country) and a good amount would enthusiastically agree!
  3. Doctors – In the past, most people would follow the advice of the doctors and this still holds true. However, with the vast corruption of money and profits into the profession we’re seeing a backlash. The most visible form of this backlash is in the anti-vaccine movement. Authority figures (aka doctors) are telling people they must take vaccines. The anti-vaccine crowd sees it all as corporate greed and like religious folk entering a church, check their common sense and thinking capabilities at the door. They are smart now because they went on The Internet and read some stuff! Just like Republicans went on Fox News and learned some news!!! These are the C students from high school ladies and gentlemen.
  4. Police – You still need to do what a police officer commands you to do because he/she can put you in jail or even shoot and kill you. But what is different as an adult and understanding how the world works realizes that the police department is not an ultimate authority as many think. Police departments are held accountable by political leaders. I just read a story of how the vice squad on Sullivant Ave. in Columbus, Ohio was disbanded after an officer shot a prostitute. As it turned out he was using his position for sex by threatening to arrest the prostitute if she didn’t have sex for free with him.
    As an adult I see that police do not have absolute power and the individual police person is just a human with a very difficult and necessary job that really isn’t making much money. Police are a vital part of any functioning society but again, their authority isn’t absolute.
  5. Priests – The priest used to be he top authority figure in the community I grew up in. Nobody questioned the priest and if they did, they did so quietly. Now that I’m 42 I am very disappointing that adults before me gave the priests such unquestioning power. I’m now the same age as many priests and there is something wrong with all of them. They are aberrations of men, something that should be done away with. There are so many different churches, so many religious leaders and the majority of humanity follows them like sheep. They can even abuse kids and the sheep will cover it up all the while still going to church on a weekly basis. These are adults who not only have bent to authority but are completely broken by it. We could compare them to Trump supporters. Trump supporters will support him no matter what he does. Religious folks will support their church and priests even if they molest children, start wars, and cling to ancient beliefs even when science has proven otherwise.

Getting back to the quote about power residing where men believe it resides, this is absolutely true for society as a whole. As an individual however, I have to follow the rules or someone could come arrest me and even put me to death. However, if the majority of society decides to strip authority from an institution this can be done but might involve some bloodshed as humans in power do not like to lose control. If all of California were to rise up and want to leave the USA Trump would probably send in the military and take out the leaders.

But when we take a look at what authority inherently is, we see that it is all just a state of mind. More often than not, other humans hold authority over us because we have allowed them to do so. In my own small world I’ll deal with many others who will be wearing their business suits, put on a business face and talk to me in a stern voice all with the intention of trying to make me believe they have authority over me. They do this to gain some advantage in upcoming negotiations. It doesn’t work anymore.

Categories
Journal

Catholic Church – Pedophile Priests

I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school throughout elementary and high school. Catholicism is what I was taught and what I knew. I am no longer Catholic and as an adult am in complete disbelief at how everyone just looked and still looks the other way when it came to pedophile priests.

I write about this now because, yet another, priest was outed just yesterday as a pedophile in my hometown and this is the second I knew and had contact with when I was a kid.

Page from my ’84 – ’85 yearbook. Two pedophile priests.

The picture above is from my elementary school yearbook and so far two out of the four priests are known pedophiles. The woman, who I won’t name was a nun (is no longer) and was caught stealing from the local supermarket.

The priest that was outed yesterday is Pedophile Lutz for abuse at St. Christopher’s Church from 1982 to 1986. It was in multiple news outlets but here is the one from 10 TV.

The second one is Pedophile Hanrahan who is already on the list of “Credibly Accused Clergy” and was convicted of gross sexual imposition back in 1984.

Source from the Columbus Dispatch: Link
 Hanrahan was convicted of gross sexual imposition and sentenced to four years in prison in 1994 after admitting to sexual misconduct with a boy during the 1980s while serving at St. Ladislas and St. Christopher parishes in Columbus. Allegations by other boys were not prosecuted as part of a plea deal. According to court records, Hanrahan admitted fondling the boy, who was 11 and 12 at the time, and lying naked next to him when the boy slept over at his home. Hanrahan resigned from the priesthood in 1993 and moved to Connecticut to seek psychological treatment. Three victims later filed civil lawsuits against Hanrahan. Those lawsuits included allegations of abuse of a child who worshiped at St. Mary’s Church in Columbus. At least two of the civil lawsuits were dismissed.

Bishop Accountability Website: Link
Columbus Diocese Clergy Credibly Accused: Link

Now that I’ve got the facts and links down I want to get to the main point of this post. At 42 years old and a parent myself I am in complete shock, disbelief, bewilderment that this was allowed to happen and EVERYONE looked the other way. Cover it up, shuffle the priests along, don’t talk about it, we don’t want to look bad now do we!

When yet another priest is outed Catholics will say it is another “bad apple,” or they’ll say priests should be allowed to marry. A new priest will be installed and they’ll all shuffle back to church just like a “flock of sheep.” It is in fact a sad comedy that makes me want to laugh.

“Oh dear, Father Dick got caught piddling little Tommy. Bad Father Dick, such a bad apple. Oh look, we now have Father Stiff, here Father Stiff have some children, go on to Father Stiff little children.

Two months later.

Oh dear, Father Stiff touched little Sammy’s balls. Such a bad apple. Oh look we’ve got a new priest,, here priest have some children!

And on and on it goes.

I cannot believe there isn’t outrage, people pulling out of that seriously dysfunctional religion left and right. Instead they are silent, and whisper among themselves.

We’re not talking about one bad apple here, just look at my own example. We’re talking about three out of six people in positions of authority in my elementary school! And guess what, more pedophiles came after them. And the congregation still goes and shakes the new priest’s hands and bows to their authority.

I don’t like priests. At 42 years old many of them are now in my age bracket. These are not the types of people I’d be friends with. What kind of man would want to be a priest? I’ll tell you, a closeted one with unnatural sexual desires. If not quite that then one who wants to run from the world. Or perhaps they want to please Mommy and Daddy who expect this of them. Or perhaps they are just FUCKING WEIRD!!! How could the adults not see this when I was a kid?? Why do they submit to priests authority over and over again when a very high percentage are known pedophiles???

I’ll tell you why. The Catholic church is a cult. It is an extremely large cult that has been around for a very long time and people cannot break free from past tradition. Their parents were Catholic and thus they are Catholic. If you go back far enough, the invading armies were Catholic and forced the natives they were conquering to be Catholic. Rulers found this religion to be very useful in subduing the natives and it worked. It continues to work even today with President’s talking in simple terms such as good vs. evil, evildoers, and so on. No need to get into difficult details my flock of sheep, just know we’re the good guys and God loves us while that other group is the bad guys and God hates them. So why can they not see it when things have gotten very strange? Because they don’t want to see it. The church is what they know, it is what they’ve known their entire lives. You can ditch a priest but you cannot ditch what you’ve known and believed in your entire life. One apple after another could go bad, in fact, half of the entire barrel might spoil but the solution is to just rearrange the apples and never look at the barrel itself as a cause for spoilage.

But going back to priests just being weird I remember Father Lutz and having to go to his choir practice. It was up on the balcony in back of the church where the was an organ. It would just be a bunch of boys and we’d have to sing songs in Latin. I remember one word from one song and it was Erebus. I had no idea what it meant but now a wry smile forms as I’ve just looked it up and it is “personification of darkness in Greek mythology.” How wonderfully poetic, it fits into my story so well!!

For fuck’s sakes, who gets a bunch of young boys together to sing songs in Latin to organ music??? It seems to me life is an absurd comedy where from time to time people wake up and realize, “Hey, this thing we’ve been doing for hundreds of years and thought was completely normal is absolutely ridiculous isn’t it!”

Slavery, genital mutilation, wearing high heels (shoes designed to shoot arrows from horseback, not to walk in) painting the face (aka makeup), seeing breasts not as food providers for infants but making people cover them up because guys think they are sexual, wearing burkas because, again, men cannot control themselves, believing in a religious book that is full of silly stories, portraying Jesus as white when he would have been dark, electing Trump (examples are seemingly infinite, just open the news), bigotry because another human is a different color, mental gymnastics required to continue believing in religion in a modern world, thinking that we’re an important species and that God looks like us with an incomprehensible universe right in front of our face if we just look up at the stars and so on and so on.

A bunch of boys singing in Latin to organ music played by a single male adult all dressed in black. Life is an absurd comedy indeed.

Let’s do a comparison for fun to show how the mind doesn’t quite work as it should when it comes to the Catholic congregation.

Let’s say we’re at the ocean on the beach and the waves are perfect for surfing. However, there are a couple of sharks out there. Danger for sure although it is really rare for a shark to attack a surfer. There will be about 2 deaths per year but that is to drowning. In the 10 years I’ve lived next to an ocean there was only one shark attack which bit a kayak. Nobody has died, maybe not ever, I cannot be sure. But would the parents let their kids go surfing knowing sharks are lurking out there? No, probably not.

Well, what about spending time with a priest when almost HALF OF THE PRIESTS IN THE PAST DECADE FOR THEIR PARISH ARE KNOWN PEDOPHILES???? No problem then, go on little Timmy, get out there and be with that priest!

Here is another story to illustrate how dark the environment truly is. There was a kid in my parish whose mother had him play the organ during mass. He was young, maybe 12 or so and very good at the organ. He was the perfect little Catholic boy. But there was an issue. This little boy was gay. His mother was your model Christian, always dressed nice, saying her prayers, couldn’t ask for more from a Catholic. But she really didn’t want her child to be gay. Well, as I learned many years later this little boy grew up and committed suicide.

Does anyone blame the church for an absolutely awful environment that teaches a little kid there is something wrong with him to the point where he kills himself? Nope. It is just forgotten, some words are said and the flock shuffles to church the next Sunday.

Well, I’ve written enough. I want to enjoy my Sunday and dwelling on this topic brings me down. I’m glad I’ve got it written however as I want my descendants to know how I feel on this topic and also simply for reference in this journal of my life.

Categories
Journal Politics

Journal Entry – 12.15.2018

It is 2:55 AM on Saturday December 15th, 2018.  I’m still trying to get into the Christmas mood but it is hampered by a couple of things.  The first is probably the news and the dire picture it paints about the state of the world.  First and foremost we have a complete idiot of a President along with his gold digging, nude picture publishing, cheated on with porn stars wife.  Trump and Melania are both a disgrace but what is worse is that half of America voted Trump into office.  

It is not just a simple mistake that is going to correct itself when Trump leaves office.  What millions of people voting for someone like him means is that our society is a complete mess.  In a few short words we are a Jerry Springer society and America is finally getting exactly what it deserves for a President.  America is a business, not so much a country.  The overriding ties that bind society together is the chance to make money and purchase things, everything else such as patriotism, religion, and so in is nothing more than veneer.

The monkeys have been let loose in the White House and boy are they causing an incredible amount of damage for the future of the USA.  It plays out slowly with each episode seemingly getting worse than the last.  If you’re reading this in the far future and wonder how we could be so idiotic this is the fault of the Republican party who have been willing to burn down not only the USA but also the planet just so they could have power.  

Yes, the planet is heating up and the Republicans want to hasten the process.  Yes the President cheated on his third wife with porn stars and the Republicans, who claim to be religious, look the other way (hypocrites).  The wife of the President wears coats that say “I really don’t care, do you?” when visiting children in cages on the border.  This is all so surreal but real it is.  Our leaders have become a farce.  

The only saving grace seems to be states such as California who are driving ahead without the nonsense from the federal government.  Innovation continues, the drive towards renewable energy continues, things still look relatively bright so long as we go our own way with a stiff arm to the White House and their stupid policies.  

So yes, that hampers my Christmas spirit.  There is also the pressure from work which puts a little damper on things.  It is pretty much self imposed as things look pretty good but there are a lot of expectations.  

Also, Christmas, which I used to celebrate as the birth of Jesus, has completely changed.  I am no longer a Christian but most of the people I grew up with are.  One of them posted a rant about Christmas and why are people celebrating if not for the birth of Jesus?  I had to set him straight in that the birth year of Jesus is unknown, the Christmas tree is a pagan symbol, and the Winter Solstice has been a major event (where light begins to triumph over darkness) for millennia.  It was the Christians who co-opted the pagan celebrations (and not just Christmas!) for their own use.  

Christianity to me now looks so very strange.  We live in a modern, technological and scientific era but a good part of humanity cannot break free of the superstition and traditions that are based on a “hearsay of a hearsay of some non-event.”

But I’m still fine with calling it Christmas, not because I believe in the story about the magical birth of some kid in a stable to a virgin – sound so strange to any rationally thinking person doesn’t it? – but rather that Christianity is a major part of human history and it is a part of who I am since I was raised in that faith. 

Anyway, I need to force some Christmas spirit upon myself.  The trick this year would be to completely shut out the news and nonsense and focus on the positive aspects of life.  I cannot control the news or what occurs out there in the world but I can control what I pay attention to and how I want my mindset to be.  Time to get working on it.   

Categories
Books

Montaillou – Life in a Medieval Village

I just finished Montaillou by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie.  This took me over half a year to finish not because it wasn’t great, but because I have two young boys and thus free time is non-existent.

I learned of this book in a Reddit post and quickly bought it as it is right up my alley.  Montaillou is simply a study of medieval life in a small mountain town (Montaillou) in southern France around the year 1300.  The records are drawn from the Inquisition which was very active in the region trying to put a stamp on the Cathar beliefs which were spreading.  The Inquisitor, Jacques Fournier kept excellent records and thus have given us a peek into the normal, everyday life of the residents of this small village.

What fascinates me about the book is it is not a history book but rather, as Michael Ratcliffee of The Times” puts it, “A classic adventure in eavesdropping across time.”

Here are my favorite entries:

Escaunier of Arques, elaborated as if it were and article of faith his hatred for tithes, mingled with other heretical propositions:  The priests and the clerks, he cried, because they are wicked, extort and receive from the people the first-fruits and the titles of products for which they have not done the smallest stroke of work.

A really rich man was not a wage-earner like himself but a farmer and landowner with enough wealth to be able to use others to work for him.

– It looks like not much has changed in how to become really rich.  Although we’ve moved from an agrarian society to an information/technology one the basics are the same.  You must own the product and have people do the work for you.  However, in this age it is the CEO who must guide the ship to keep the enterprise from smashing on the rocks.

‘With the riches Satan shall give you will never be satisfied, however much you possess.  He who has will always want more.  And you will have neither pause nor end, for this world is not the realm of stability; and all that is of Satan is only passing and doomed to destruction.’

– This is as true today as it was back then and was quoted in Game of Thrones which I’m watching.  People will always want more and never be satisfied.  Should that cease to occur our Capitalist society would no longer function.  We are ‘consumers’ which in this age of greed is like a bacteria which consumes and devours until nothing is left at all, our society cannot stop.  The best solution I’ve found to this comes from Buddhism and meditation.  You have to stop the “grasping mind.”  The mind is always grasping for something else but through meditation one can control it, let those thoughts simply pass through and then you will be at peace.

‘Three times the house of my father and mother were destroyed for heresy; and I myself cannot cure myself of heresy, for I must hold the faith my father held.’

  • This is also very true today:  people will follow the religions of their fathers and that is why we call entire countries either Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish and so on.  If humans were an intelligent species you would imagine these beliefs would change over time but they do not.  Technology and knowledge may increase but the stubborn persistence of religion, of beliefs thousands of years old stay strong.  For me I was raised Catholic and it was only until I left the Church but came for a Mass that I really listened and understood how bizarre it all was.  Here are people living in an age of technology and science yet they believe that bread and wine change into a living God and consume it.  The priest tells God what we know, what to do and when to do it.  “We know, You are, We ask…..”  We don’t know as much as we think we do about the universe, we’re completely lost and have made up religion in order to stomp out that fear of the unknown, of what this reality actually is.

Pierre Maury’s sense of fate was thus not vulgarly magical but loftily philosophical.  In him as in others it is simply a very old peasant idea quite natural in societies where there is no growth and, where people literally have no choice.

Fate, which underlies this phrase as it does so many others, is thus seen as the shepherd’s vocation; and mountain liberty is the happy counterpart of the migrant’s destiny, even if he has to sleep under the trees, to freeze almost to death in winter and be soaked to the skin by autumn showers.

  • Complete freedom, this is a dream for the entire human race.  Here in America we believe we are ‘free,’ yet we are living in a system in which we must get into our cars, drive to an office and work the vast majority of our lives so as not to starve and die.  True freedom would be the ability to live life exactly as you wish.  However, we are programmed from birth to believe in certain ideas, to work within the system, to follow the rules.  This is also portrayed in Game of Thrones by the ‘Wildlings’ who live north of the wall, separate from the various kings in the south who rule over their subjects and make them behave in a certain way.

Behind the commonplace idea that a man is the product of his education lies the more complex notion of a physical link with the bread which built the body, and, through the bread, with the land which produced the grain and to which the man will one day return.  The soul of man is bread. 

– “Man is the product of his education.”  We are not born with inherent knowledge and thus taught what to believe, that is ‘programmed’ to use technological terminology.  I just spoke of this in my previous comment so nothing further to add.  But in this quote I like the relationship between the land, the body and the importance of bread.  Perhaps this is the link in why bread is featured so prominently in the Bible.  Bread gives us life in the physical sense since it provides nourishment and so religion has given it a spiritual link as well since without it we would die in both the literal physical sense as well as in the spiritual sense.

So Maury chose instead to desire few objects, and to transfer his wants to other kinds of wealth, which for him took the place of family:  temporary unions with mistresses in the pastures or the taverns; a full network of human relationships based on both artificial and natural fraternity, on compaternity, on pure friendship or friendship through association  He liked this life-style, based on fate freely accepted – but is this not the very definition of Grace?  His destiny was a destination.  For him, sheep meant liberty.  And he would not trade that liberty for the plate of gritty lentils often held out to him by friends, employers or parasites, offering to marry him, to help him settle down, to have him adopted into a rich family.  But he saw his destiny as travelling over hill and dale, with friends everywhere and temporary sweethearts.  Material wealth would have been literally a burden to him.  Maury had few possessions, but he was not destitute.  And when he lost those few possessions he lost them with a smile, for he knew that by working he could easily get them back again.  Well shod for his long journeys in a pair of good shoes of Spanish leather – the only luxury he allowed himself – detached from the goods of this world, careless of the almost inevitable certainty of being arrested at some time by the Inquisition, leading a life that was both passionate and passionately interesting, Pierre Maury was a happy shepherd.

  • Maury is free and he lives in grace.  To me living in grace is to not ‘try’ or perhaps a better word is ‘fight.’  He glides through life shaping it to his wants and desires all without much effort.  I feel that the same is true for my life:  once I stop fighting and just let life run its course while remaining positive I find that things start to go my way, that I’m successful.  Yes, I do work but instead of always pushing I just find that perfect current that takes me where I want to go.  Should I wish to change the direction of my life I climb out of the river and find a new one that is going where I wish to go.  There is some effort required in changing streams but once it is done life becomes easy again.  The stream of course is a metaphor for my mental state and provided I’m in the right one, life is grand and things in the physical realm begin to go my way.

As late as the eighteenth century, many people considered that to emit an odor of unwashed body was a sign of personal virility, at least in men.

– They still do in Europe!  Here we are, a conscious organic organism which is comprised mostly of bacterial cells!  We perspire, emit odors, excrete waste, shed all while applying chemicals to make us smell and look better.  Aside from the occasional bath isn’t all of this just a fight against our natural state?

Many people were of the opinion that pleasure in itself was without sin, and if it was agreeable to the couples concerned it was not disagreeable to God either.  As for the idea that to pay for one’s pleasure was to be without sin, it was long to remain widespread in this region.  Detailed records of the Inquisition have revealed this attitude unaltered among many Spanish peasants in modern times.

– And then came the Christians which taught that humans are inherently bad through original sin.  We must live a life of misery, abstaining from many of the pleasures of life to atone for this made up ‘sin.’ Through reading this book and the thoughts and ideas of adherents centuries ago we learn that religion has been shaped and transformed through the ideas of men, not necessarily of God.  There are many ways to interpret ancient texts and is the reason we have so many religions and sects today.

Towards a lover ‘patient, complimentary and discreet’, offering both respect and temptation.

  • This quote helps me expound on my previous point; is it a sin to have a lover in our society today?  Of course it is, that is the legacy our puritan fore-bearers have given us.  I think this quote is referring to a mistress instead of a wife since it says ‘discreet.’  You’re in trouble with the law should it be a financial transaction and with religion as well due to their rules on adultery.  To take on other lovers seems to be a normal, human inclination which is suppressed by religious ideas which always make their way into laws of the state.

But in the institution of marriage as it then was, the woman was regarded as an object – an object loved or an object beaten, as the case might be.

Like the troubadours, they regarded real love as something outside legal marriage.

  • Marriage is a societal contract which helps keep things stable.  Our ideas are unlike those of the ‘savages’ which roam in tribes and many of which had no such ideas to stick with one lover throughout their lives. Marriage is mostly a religious idea.

Every married woman could expect a fair amount of beating some time or other.

  • This is unfortunate and I’m glad no longer the case with most relationships and laws against this practice in place.  At least we’ve made some progress as a species.

As Georges Duby has said, the Christ of the Roman age was the hero of the Parousia, ‘Jesus returning on the Last Day, in all his glory, to judge the living and dead.  In the thirteenth century there appeared the more learned figure… of Jesus the wise man.  But the preaching of St. Francis emphasized the Passion, and the theme of suffering developed throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, so that the royal crown was replaced by the Crown of Thorns.

– Again, religion is being transformed to the ideas of men who interpret the old texts in their own ways.

Paradoxically, one of the most striking examples of the general respect for the body of Christ is the attitude of Raymond de Laburat, an anti-clerical peasant of Sabarthes.  He said he would be glad to see all the clergy, from the Pope to ordinary priests, go ff to the Crusades to be destroyed by the Saracens.  He would be even more delighted to see the churches razed to the ground.  Then Mass would be celebrated on the land and in the fields, and the peasants who, like him, had been excommunicated and driven out of the churches, would at last have the great happiness of seeing the body of their divine Master in open air.

  • Take religion out of the stone buildings under control of the priests.  Get out into actual creation and appreciate what was created by God, not constructed by man.

Throughout the high Middle Ages, men of the Church, including St. Bernard and S. Dominic, had passionately promoted devotion to the Virgin Mary.  In 1254 the Council of Albi raised the Ave Maria to rank with the major prayers, the Credo and the Lord’s Prayer, which were theoretically taught to everyone over the age of seven.

  • Again more modification of religion by man.

Fertility cults both human and agricultural, which at first sight seem conspicuous by their absence, were unspoken rather than non-existent and, in fact, incorporated in the cult of the Virgin.

– I’ve learned that many of the customs and traditions in Christianity (of which I’m most familiar) have their origins in pagan beliefs and rituals.  These ideas were incorporated by the Church to convert these ‘pagans’ more easily to the Christian belief.

We have already seen the privileges a priest might enjoy with his female parishioners.  It may be that immoral priests were only a minority among the clergy of Sabarthes, but they were numerous enough, and very much in evidence.

  • The liaisons with females might have decreased in our day and age but as the news has shown illicit relationships with young boys has not.  What normal, healthy man would decide to take a vow of celibacy?  At age 41 the priests are now in my age group and I can easily see there is something wrong with them.  They are not the sort I’d associate nor have anything to do with.

The Pope devours the blood and sweat of the poor.  And the bishops and the priests, who are rich and honored and self-indulgent, behave in the same manner…whereas Saint Peter abandoned his wife, his children, his fields, his vineyards and his possessions to follow Christ. 

They call themselves little or ‘minor’, and they are big.  Instead of saving the souls of the dead and sending them to heaven, they gorge themselves at banquets after funerals.  And then they own too many silks.  And do you think that their great houses were built by the labor of their own hands?  No, these friars, they are wicked wolves!  They would like to devour us all, dead or alive.

  • An entry to show that a good majority of these priests are depraved.  Yes, there are some good ones who are truly trying to live a good and spiritual life but that is not the majority of them.

The people of Montaillou were fond of having a nap, of taking it easy, of delousing one another in the sun or by the fire. Whenever they could, they tended to shorten the working day into a half day.

  • This is another natural human inclination.  We should enjoy this creation we find ourselves in but the lords, CEOs, stockholders and so on wish to work us to death in order to increase their own personal wealth.  That is the system we are in.  In a perfect society and through the work of our ancestors in building cities, creating technology life should get easier for all of us.  But even with the clothes, cars and material wealth created we find ourselves with higher rates of mental illness, of drug addiction and overdose and of general discontent.  The system we live in is very bad in consideration of where it could be if love and mutual respect prevailed instead of greed.

Moreover, magic was especially a feminine province, and in the mountain villages of the early fourteenth century the cultural gap between men and women which was introduced by parish schools in the sixteenth century did not exist.  Later, segregation by schooling made some boys literate but left most girls completely ignorant.  They thus became, more than ever, the preservers of natural, non-scholastic culture, and also more and more suspect to the men.  And mistrust of women soon turned into suspicion of witchcraft.

– Excellent point and something I did not consider as to the origins of witchcraft.

So, after a certain time spent in penitential wandering from church to church, the dead prepared for their second death.  This meant their entry into the ‘place of rest’, which was also on earth, in a place which was agreeable but vague or even unknown.  This ‘second death’ took place at All Saints.

  • The Chinese also have this idea and even a kanji for it.  I’ve written about this in the past and will place it here:
  • Not too many people know this, but I think it’s called 聻, an ancient character… Yes in Chinese culture, a ghost can die too, when a ghost dies, the form and spirit disappear 形神俱灭,never comes back to another life 永不超生。Chinese culture believe that after people die, they can become something/someone else in another life 投胎。But a 聻 wont. Of course those could be some kind of superstition 迷信 in the culture, not everyone believes it”

Ghosts!

Once they reached the place of rest, they were no longer in contact with the messenger of souls, and thus lost touch with the living.

Man had not only a soul, which most people believed to be immortal, but also a spirit.  When someone was asleep and dreaming, the spirit might escape from his body.

The soul, he told them, remains in the man’s body all the time; but a man’s spirit or mind goes in and out, just like the lizard which went from the sleeper’s mouth to the ass’s head and vice versa. 

in the 1970s there was still a Clergue in the local telephone directory.  Now its people are abandoning the fields up in the mountains, and so threatening the stability of an ancient habitat which neither repression nor contagion was able to destroy.

Not much to say on those last few quotes so I’ll leave them as they are.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book because in learning about the past I can better understand our present circumstances and why things are the way they are.  My main takeaway is that although we’ve progressed in science, economics, technology and many other areas we as human beings remain much unchanged.