Category Archives: Christian

Yes Virginia, There Is a Christian Catholicism

One of the most bizarre things about own homegrown rightwing Christian Protestant fundamentalists is that they subscribe to the belief that somehow the very first Christians of all, the Catholics, are not Christians. Whether the Papists are apostates or simply heretics is not clear, not that it matters since crazy is crazy. Some of these kooks even push philosophies that say that all evil today is coming out of Catholic Central in the Vatican.

Of course this is scriptural madness. There is no such thing as Catholics and Christians. Catholics are Christians, and I do not care how many times these schismatic born-again nuts insist that they are not.

In fact, they are the very first real Christians of all, ignoring the original Christians who were so Jewish that no Christian today in their right mind would practice their religion though many insist that they do. Yes, you ask one of these Protestant nutcases what sort of Christianity they practice and they all say that they practice “the original Christianity” of say 60 AD or so. Well they don’t practice Judaism, so no they don’t.

But in going back to what they see as the original pure untainted ideal from 2,000 years ago, these Protestant fruitcakes are the equivalent of Muslim Salafists, and when they excommunicate everyone else, they are as bad as Muslim Takfiris like ISIS. So our modern Protestant fundies are sort of a Christian ISIS without all the head-chopping. Wonderful.

Anyway, yes, Christianity and Catholicism were the same thing for 1,500 years until Martin Luther, ignoring a few heretical Catholic splits like the Cathars, who were my ancestors by the way).

The first actual church, the Syrian Orthodox Church founded in 60 AD, now being destroyed and genocided by the “Christian” United States, UK, and  EU, in addition to the jihadist Muslim Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was a Christian or Orthodox church. Catholicism and Orthodoxy are the same thing. One looks to Rome and the other to the east, formerly to Antioch but now to wherever the head of their local branch resides, as there is no Vatican of Orthodox since the Hagia Sofia was turned into a mosque by those lovely Muslims.

It’s all one church. The Western branch is headquartered in Rome, and the eastern branch is headquartered in various nations in Eastern Europe and the Near and Middle East. Even though love to slaughter each other in the modern era, it’s still all one big church. Cain and Abel if you will.

When these fruitcakes say that Catholics are not Christians, they are actually saying that there no Christianity for 1,500 years!

According to our modern evangelical loons, apparently there was some sort of primal Christianity in the Levant in the 1st Century (which was really just ultra-Reform Judaism). These incipient “Christians” kept kosher! Since when do Christians keep kosher? See how retarded these millenarian charismatic boneheads are?

Then apparently “Christianity” went away for 1,500 years. How likely is that?

I guess the real deal was crucified or something just like its prophet. Anyway in both cases, the Romans did it.

And then in re-run of the original, in imitation once again of its prophet, Christianity somehow rose from the dead, came back from extinction, shoved the Catholic Stone aside and strode out powerfully into the glaring sun of the brand new day. The man who resurrected the church and created Zombie Christianity or Protestantism is named named Martin Luther.

Nope. Catholicism in all of its baffling forms is the real deal – the original Christianity, and it doesn’t matter how many modern Protestant Flat Earthers say it’s not true. Historical facts are historical facts, and in this case, revisionism is just lying and some very stupid and transparent lying at that.

The first World Christian Church was headquarted in Rome in the 300’s with the conversion of the crumbling Roman Empire. Those who used to feed the heretics to the lions embraced the same heresy they once persecuted so savagely. That was the shot in the arm that the religion needed, and it was smooth sailing from then on. It mattered not that Christian Rome fell because soon enough the German pagans of Rome were automagically Christians themselves. Soon afterwards, a rival Catholic Church was established in Antioch in Christian Turkey and a rather restrained rivalry was on. All attempts to marry the two ends of the compass failed, but all in all it was an amicable divorce.

If anyone is a splitter or God forbid a heretic, it is the Protestants who frankly began their journey as blood-soaked Catholic heretic genocide victims. Tortured and murdered by the million for a century, the heretics became schismatics became a bona fide branch of Christianity not long after Luther died. The two branches of Western Christianity kept slaughtering each for a while, but familial homicide is actually one of the most common types, so the massacres go are not as counterintuitive as you would think.

Anyway if you have read this far, you can see that the point of this post that anyone who says, “No, I’m not Catholic. I’m Christian,” as you hear so often around my intellectually blighted environs, is a certified idiot and a delusional lunatic.

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Paris, France, January 21, 1535

As with Sunni versus Shia, previously we had Catholic versus Protestant. The cruelties of ISIS’ modes of execution actually resemble the increasingly cruel ways that Catholics sought to kill blasphemers and other criminals during those times.

In Paris on January 13, 1535, placards appeared all over Paris denouncing the Roman Mass. The initial incident happened several months before on October 17, 1534 i what is known as the Affair of the Placards. On that day, placards denouncing the Catholic Mass were distributed all over Paris and several other cities on doorsteps. One of the pamphlets was actually posted on the door of King Francis I’s bedchamber in a breach of security that severely shook the king.

The king previously tried to protect the Protestants of France from the persecutions of the Parlement of Paris. But the placard affair ended these conciliatory policies. On January 21, a massive Catholic procession was held in Paris, one of the largest the capital had ever seen. at the end of the procession was a funeral pyre. The king, the rest of the royalty and Catholic hierarchy all sat in attendance before the pyre.

The pyre faced the royal platform at a convenient distance, in order that the noble assemblage be annoyed neither by the heat nor smoke of the fire, and yet could follow closely the cruel details of the tragedy. The pyre consisted of a heap of fagots from fifteen to twenty feet long, and about six or seven feet high.

Close to the pyre rose six machines. Each consisted of a perpendicular beam, the bottom driven into the earth and the top furnished with an iron clamp in the socket of which a cross-beam was attached. This beam could be made to tip forward over the fagots.

At the forward extremity of the cross-beam, and hanging from chains, was an iron chair provided with a back and foot-board after the fashion of a swing. To the rear extremity of the cross-beam ropes and pulleys were attached, holding it down to the ground.

Sue, Eugène, 1865. Mystères du peuple; ou, Histoire d’une famille de prolétaires a travers les ages. Bruxelles, Leipzig, A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven. English translation by Daniel De Leon, 1910. The Pocket Bible; or, Christian the Printer: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century. New York: New York Labor News Company.

At the head of the march were six heretics:

Etienne Laforge led; behind them came St. Ernest-Martyr supporting the architect Poille. The wretched man had his tongue cut out. Blood streamed from his mouth, and dyed his long white shirt red. Mary La Catelle and Hena, called in religion Sister St. Frances-in-the-Tomb.

Ibid.

Two Catholic clergy spoke in the crowd, wondering what was afoot:

The Franc-Taupin contemplated with horror those implements of torture, while he gave his support to poor Odelin, who shook convulsively. The Superior of the Mathurins, who happened to stand near Josephin, addressed him with a smile:

“Perhaps you do not understand the value of those machines which we shall shortly see put into operation?”

“No, dear brother, you are right. I have no idea of what those machines are for in this affair.”

“They are an invention due to the genius of our Sire the King, to whom the men put to the torture for coining false money already owe the rack on which they are executed. To-day the application of these new machines, which you are contemplating with so much interest, is inaugurated in our good city of Paris. The process is very simple, besides ingenious.

“When the pyre is well aflame, the patient is chained fast to the chair which you see there, dangling from the end of that cross-beam; then, the beam acting as a lever, he is, by slacking and pulling in the ropes at the other end, alternately sunk down into the flames and pulled out again, to be re-plunged, and so on, until, after being plunged and re-plunged, death ensues. Do you now understand the process?”

“Clearly, my reverend. Death by fire, as formerly practiced, put too speedy an end to the patient’s torture.”

“Altogether too speedy. A few minutes of torture and all was over, and the heretic breathed his last breath—”

“And now,” broke in the Franc-Taupin, “thanks to this royal invention by our Sire Francis I, whom may God guard, the patient is afforded leisure to burn slowly—he can relish the fagot and inhale the flame! How superb and meritorious an invention!”

“It is that, my dear brother! Your expressions are correct—quite so—relish the fagot—inhale the flame. It is calculated that the agony of the patients will now last from twenty to thirty minutes.

“There are to-night three such pyres raised in Paris,” the Superior of the Mathurins proceeded to explain. “The one before us, a second at the market place, and the third at the Cross-of-Trahoir. After our good Sire shall have assisted at the executions in this place, he will be able to visit the two others on his way back to the Louvre.”

Ibid.

The King gave a speech.

“…Some wicked blasphemers, people of little note and of less doctrine, have, contrary to the honor of the holy Sacrament, machinated, said, proffered and written many great blasphemies. On account thereof I have willed that this solemn procession be held, in order to invoke the grace of our Redeemer.

“I order that rigorous punishment be inflicted upon the heretics, as a warning to all others not to fall into the said damnable opinions, while admonishing the faithful to persevere in their doctrines, the wavering to become firm, and those who have strayed away to return to the path of the holy Catholic faith, in which they see me persevere, together with the spiritual prelates.

“Therefore, messieurs, I entreat and admonish you—let all my subjects keep watch and guard, not only over themselves, but also over their families, and especially over their children, and cause these to be so properly instructed that they may not fall into evil doctrines. I also order that each and all shall denounce whomsoever they may happen to know, or to suspect, of being adherents to the heresy, without regard to any bonds, whether of family or of friendship.

“As to myself,” added Francis I in a thundering voice, “on the same principle that, had I an arm infected with putrefaction, I would cause it to be separated from my body, so if ever, should it unhappily so befall, any child of mine relapse into the said damnable heresies, I shall be ready to immolate, and to deliver him as a sacrifice to God.”

Jean Bouchet. 1557. Exhortation of the King of France against the Heretics, in-folio, p. 272. Poitiers.

Ibid.

The heretics were then led to the stage. Six chairs suspended by chains hung above the pyre. A pulley was attached to each of them.

The heretics, to the number of six, marched two by two, bareheaded and barefooted, holding lighted tapers in their hands. John Dubourg and his friend Etienne Laforge led; behind them came St. Ernest-Martyr supporting the architect Poille. The wretched man had his tongue cut out. Blood streamed from his mouth, and dyed his long white shirt red. Mary La Catelle and Hena, called in religion Sister St. Frances-in-the-Tomb, came next.

Their feet were bare, their hair hung down loose upon their shoulders. They were clad in long white shifts held at the waist with a cord. Hena pressed against her heart a little pocket Bible which Christian had printed in the establishment of Robert Estienne, and which she was allowed to keep. It was a cherished volume from which the Lebrenn family often read together of an evening, and which recalled to Hena a whole world of sweet remembrances.

Hervé recognized his sister among the condemned heretics. A thrill ran through his frame, a deadly pallor overcast his countenance, and, turning his face away, he leaned for support on the arm of Fra Girard. The executioners had set fire to the fagots, which soon presented the sight of a sheet of roaring flames.

As the prisoners arrived at the place of their torture and death, and caught sight of the seats swaying over the lambent flames, they readily surmised the cruel torments to which they were destined. In her terror, poor Hena began to emit heartrending cries, and she clung to the arm of Mary La Catelle. The taper and the little pocket Bible which she held rolled to the ground.

The holy book fell upon a burning ember and began to blaze. One of the executioners stamped out the fire with his heels and threw the book aside. It fell near the Franc-Taupin. Josephin stooped down quickly, picked up the precious token and dropped it into the pocket of his wide frock. Petrified with terror, Odelin only gazed into space. The frightful cries of his sister were hardly heard by him, drowned as they were by the buzz and throb of the arteries in his own temples.

The executioners were at work. Hena and the other five martyrs were seized, placed in their respective seats, and chained fast. All the six levers were then set in motion at once, and dipped over the fire. It was a spectacle, an atrocious spectacle—well worthy of a King! The victims were plunged into the furnace, then raised up high in the air with clothes and hair ablaze, to be again swallowed up in the flaming abyss, again to be raised out of it, in order once more to be precipitated into its fiery embrace!

Odelin still gazed, motionless, his arms crossed over his breast, and rigid as if in a state of catalepsy. The Franc-Taupin looked at his unhappy niece Hena every time the lever raised her in the air, and also every time it hurled her down into the abyss of flames. He counted the plungings, as the Superior of the Mathurins humorously called them. He counted twenty-five of them.

At the first few descents poor Hena twisted and writhed in her seat while emitting piercing cries; in the course of a few subsequent descents the cries subsided into moans; when she disappeared in the burning crater for the sixteenth time she was heard to moan no more. She was either expiring or dead.

The machine continued to dip twenty-five times—it was only a blackened, half naked corpse, the head of which hung loose and beat against the back of the seat. The Franc-Taupin followed also with his eyes Ernest Rennepont, who was placed face to face with Hena. The unhappy youth did not emit a single cry during his torment, he did not even utter a wail. His eyes remained fixed upon his bride.

Etienne Laforge, John Dubourg and Mary La Catelle gave proof of the sublimest courage. They were heard singing psalms amidst the flames that devoured them. Of these latter, only Anthony Poille, whose tongue had been cut out, was silent. The death rattle finally silenced the voice of the heretics. It was but charred corpses that the executioners were raising and dropping.

– Ibid

Sue comments on these executions in a footnote:

These monstrosities seem to exceed the boundaries of the possible. Let us quote literally the text of the historians:

“On the evening of the same day (January 21, 1535) the six culprits were taken to the parvise of Notre Dame, where the fires were prepared to burn them. Above the pyres rose a sort of scaffolding on which the patients were tied fast.

“The fire was then lighted under them, and the executioners, gently slacking the rope of the lever, allowed the miscreants to dip down to the level of the flames, in order that they be caused to feel the sharpest smart; they were then raised up again, kept hanging ablaze in midair, and, after having been several times put through that painful torment, they were dropped into the flames where they expired.”

– Father Daniel of the Society of Jesus. 1751. History of France, vol. IV, page 41. Paris.

“On the said day (January 21, 1535) in the presence of the King, the Queen and all the court, and after the aforesaid remonstrances, the six heretics were brought forward to make the amend honorable before the church of Notre Dame of Paris, and immediately after they were burned alive.”

– Jean Bouchet. 1557. Acts and Deeds of the Kings of France and England, in-folio, pp. 271-272. Poitiers.

“In order to purge their sin, the said heretics were burned to death on the said day (January 21, 1535) at several places, as the King passed by, while in vain the poor sufferers cried and implored him for mercy.”

– Jean Sleidan. 1557. History of the State of Religion,  vol. IX, p. 137.

“Among those burnt at Paris that day, January 21, 1535, were: John Dubourg, a merchant-draper of Paris, living in St. Denis Street, at the sign of the Black Horse; Etienne Laforge, of Tournay, but long an inhabitant of Paris, a man very rich and very charitable; a schoolmistress named Mary La Catelle; and Anthony Poille, an architect formerly of Meaux, and blessed of God in that he carried off the palm among the martyrs, for having been the most cruelly treated. He had his tongue cut out, as more fully it is set forth in the book of the martyrs.”

– Theodore of Beze. Ecclesiastical Chronicles, vol. I, p. 1.

Ibid. Footnotes, 43 and 46.

As you can see, at one time, the Catholic Church was as cruel as ISIS, and for much the same reasons. Both were devising crueler and crueler tortures to be used against heretics, among others.Both are ultra-fundamentalist institutions devising crueler and crueler ways to kill dissenters, including heretics, the purpose of which being to terrorize people into submission.

In fact, ISIS recently executed several Shia spies in almost this same way, by dangling them just above a slowly creeping flame that moved towards them in a line to where it ended up just under them, where it burst into a large fire, which they dangled in and out of in a similar fashion to the way that these Protestant heretics were killed. Incredible that the Catholic Church hierarchy itself was involved in making these torture-executions crueler and crueler. Note the sadistic glee with which the high-ranking priest above laughs as he describes the method of execution with relish.

More on this fascinating period of history here.

References

Elwood, Christopher. 1998. The Body Broken: The Calvinist Doctrine of the Eucharist and the Symbolization of Power in Sixteenth-Century France. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sue, Eugène, 1865. Mystères du peuple; ou, Histoire d’une famille de prolétaires a travers les ages. Bruxelles, Leipzig, A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven. English translation by Daniel De Leon, 1910. The Pocket Bible; or, Christian the Printer: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century. New York: New York Labor News Company.

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Filed under Catholicism, Christian, Christianity, Europe, European, France, History, Islam, Modern, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Shiism, Sunnism

“Hitler’s Pope” – Anatomy of a Calumny – The Case of Pope Pius XII

From Pius XII and the Jews, by David Dalin. Published in the Weekly Standard, February 26th, 2001, pp. 31-39.

Even before Pope Pius died in 1958, the charge that his papacy had been friendly to the Nazis was circulating in Europe, a piece of standard Communist agitprop against the West.

It sank for a few years under the flood of tributes from Jews and gentiles alike that followed the Pope’s death only to bubble up again with the 1963 debut of The Deputy, a play by a left-wing German writer and former member of the Hitler Youth named Rolf Hochhuth.

The Deputy was fictional and highly polemical, claiming that Pius XII’s concern for Vatican finances left him indifferent to the destruction of European Jewry. But Hochhuth’s seven-hour play nonetheless received considerable notice, sparking a controversy that lasted through the 1960’s. And now more than thirty years later, that controversy has suddenly broken out again for reasons not immediately clear.

Indeed, “broken out” doesn’t describe the current torrent. Just recently, nine books that treat Pius XII have appeared: John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope, Pierre Blet’s Pius XII and the Second World War, Garry Wills’ Papal Sin, Margherita Marchione’s Pope Pius XII, Ronald J. Rychlak’s Hitler, the War and the Pope, Michael Phayer’s The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965, Susan Zuccotti’s Under His Very Windows, Ralph McInerny’s The Defamation of Pius XII, and, most recently, James Carroll’s Constantine’s Sword.

Since four of these — the ones by Blet, Marchione, Rychlak, and McInerny — are defenses of the pope (and two, the books by Wills and Carroll, take up Pius only as part of a broad attack against Catholicism), the picture may look balanced. In fact, to read all nine is to conclude that Pius’s defenders have the stronger case, with Rychlak’s Hitler, the War and the Pope the best and most careful of the recent works, an elegant tome of serious, critical scholarship.

Still, it is the books vilifying the Pope that have received most of the attention, particularly Hitler’s Pope, a widely reviewed volume marketed with the announcement that Pius XII was “the most dangerous churchman in modern history,” without whom “Hitler might never have…been able to press forward.” The “silence” of the pope is becoming more and more firmly established as settled opinion in the American media: “Pius XII’s elevation of Catholic self-interest over Catholic conscience was the lowest point in modern Catholic history,” the New York Times remarked, almost in passing, in a review last month of Carroll’s Constantine’s Sword.

Curiously, nearly everyone pressing this line today, from the ex-seminarians John Cornwell and Garry Wills to the ex-priest James Carroll is a lapsed or angry Catholic. For Jewish leaders of a previous generation, the campaign against Pius XII would have been a source of shock. During and after the war, many well-known Jews — Albert Einstein, Golda Meir, Moshe Sharett, Rabbi Isaac Herzog, and innumerable others — publicly expressed their gratitude to Pius.

In his 1967 book Three Popes and the Jews, the diplomat Pinchas Lapide (who served as Israeli consul in Milan and interviewed Italian Holocaust survivors) declared that Pius XII “was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands.”

This is not to say that Eugenio Pacelli — the powerful churchman who served as Nuncio in Bavaria and Germany from 1917 to 1929, then as Vatican secretary of state from 1930 to 1939, before becoming Pope Pius XII six months before World War II began — was as much a friend to the Jews as John Paul II has been.

Nor is it to say that Pius was ultimately successful as a defender of Jews. Despite his desperate efforts to maintain peace, the war came, and despite his protests against German atrocities, the slaughter of the Holocaust occurred. Even without benefit of hindsight, a careful study reveals that the Catholic Church missed opportunities to influence events, failed to credit fully the Nazis’ intentions, and was infected in some of its members with a casual anti-Semitism that would countenance — and, in a few horrifying instances, affirm — the Nazi ideology.

But to make Pius XII a target of our moral outrage against the Nazis and to count Catholicism among the institutions delegitimized by the horror of the Holocaust reveals a failure of historical understanding. Almost none of the recent books about Pius XII and the Holocaust is actually about Pius XII and the Holocaust. Their real topic proves to be an intra-Catholic argument about the direction of the Church today with the Holocaust simply the biggest club available for liberal Catholics to use against traditionalists.

A theological debate about the future of the papacy is obviously something in which non-Catholics should not involve themselves too deeply. But Jews, whatever their feelings about the Catholic Church, have a duty to reject any attempt to usurp the Holocaust and use it for partisan purposes in such a debate, particularly when the attempt disparages the testimony of Holocaust survivors and spreads to inappropriate figures the condemnation that belongs to Hitler and the Nazis.

The technique for recent attacks on Pius XII is simple. It requires only that favorable evidence be read in the worst light and treated to the strictest test, while unfavorable evidence is read in the best light and treated to no test.

So, for instance, when Cornwell sets out in Hitler’s Pope to prove Pius an anti-Semite – an accusation even the pontiff’s bitterest opponents have rarely leveled – he makes much of Pacelli’s reference in a 1917 letter to the “Jewish cult” — as though for an Italian Catholic prelate born in 1876, the word “cult” had the same resonance it has in English today and as though Cornwell himself does not casually refer to the Catholic Cult of the Assumption and the Cult of the Virgin Mary. The most immediately helpful part of Hitler, the War and the Pope may be the thirty-page epilogue Rychlak devotes to demolishing this kind of argument in Hitler’s Pope.

The same pattern is played out in Susan Zuccotti’s Under His Very Windows. For example, there exists testimony from a Good Samaritan priest that Bishop Giuseppe Nicolini of Assisi, holding a letter in his hand, declared that the Pope had written to request help for Jews during the German roundup of Italian Jews in 1943. But because the priest did not actually read the letter, Zuccotti speculates that the bishop may have been deceiving him, and thus that this testimony should be rejected.

Compare this skeptical approach to evidence with her treatment, for example, of a 1967 interview in which the German diplomat Eitel F. Mollhausen said he had sent information to the Nazis’ ambassador to the Vatican, Ernst von Weizsecker, and “assumed” that Weizsecker passed it on to Church “officials.”

Zuccotti takes this as unquestionable proof that the Pope had direct foreknowledge of the German roundup. A fair reading suggests Pius had heard rumors and raised them with the Nazi occupiers. Princess Enza Pignatelli Aragona reported that when she broke in on the Pope with the news of the roundup early on the morning of October 16, 1943, his first words were: “But the Germans had promised not to touch the Jews!”

With this dual standard, recent writers have little trouble arriving at two preordained conclusions. The first is that the Catholic Church must shoulder the blame for the Holocaust: “Pius XII was the most guilty,” as Zuccotti puts it. And the second is that Catholicism’s guilt is due to aspects of the Church that John Paul II now represents.

Indeed, in the concluding chapter of Hitler’s Pope and throughout Papal Sin and Constantine’s Sword, the parallel comes clear: John Paul’s traditionalism is of a piece with Pius’s alleged anti-Semitism; the Vatican’s current stand on papal authority is in a direct line with complicity in the Nazis’ extermination of the Jews. Faced with such monstrous moral equivalence and misuse of the Holocaust, how can we not object?

It is true that during the controversy over The Deputy and again during the Vatican’s slow hearing of the case for his canonization (ongoing since 1965), Pius had Jewish detractors. In 1964, for example, Guenter Lewy produced The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, and, in 1966, Saul Friedlander added Pius XII and the Third Reich. Both volumes claimed that Pius’s anti-communism led him to support Hitler as a bulwark against the Russians.

As accurate information on Soviet atrocities has mounted since 1989, an obsession with Stalinism seems less foolish than it may have in the mid-1960s. But, in fact, the evidence has mounted as well that Pius accurately ranked the threats.

In 1942, for example, he told a visitor, “The Communist danger does exist, but at this time the Nazi danger is more serious.” He intervened with the American bishops to support lend-lease for the Soviets, and he explicitly refused to bless the Nazi invasion of Russia. The charge of overheated anti-communism is nonetheless still alive: In Constantine’s Sword, James Carroll attacks the 1933 concordat Hitler signed for Germany by asking, “Is it conceivable that Pacelli would have negotiated any such agreement with the Bolsheviks in Moscow?” — apparently not realizing that in the mid-1920s, Pacelli tried exactly that.

In any case, Pius had his Jewish defenders as well. In addition to Lapide’s Three Popes and the Jews, one might list A Question of Judgment, the 1963 pamphlet from the Anti-Defamation League’s Joseph Lichten, and the excoriating reviews of Friedlander by Livia Rotkirchen, the historian of Slovakian Jewry at Yad Vashem. Jeno Levai, the great Hungarian historian, was so angered by accusations of papal silence that he wrote Pius XII Was Not Silent (published in English in 1968), with a powerful introduction by Robert M.W. Kempner, deputy chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg.

In response to the new attacks on Pius, several Jewish scholars have spoken out over the last year. Sir Martin Gilbert told an interviewer that Pius deserves not blame but thanks. Michael Tagliacozzo, the leading authority on Roman Jews during the Holocaust, added, “I have a folder on my table in Israel entitled Calumnies Against Pius XII…Without him, many of our own would not be alive.” Richard Breitman (the only historian authorized to study U.S. espionage files from World War II) noted that secret documents prove the extent to which “Hitler distrusted the Holy See because it hid Jews.”

Still, Lapide’s 1967 book remains the most influential work by a Jew on the topic, and in the thirty-four years since he wrote, much material has become available in the Vatican’s archives and elsewhere. New oral-history centers have gathered an impressive body of interviews with Holocaust survivors, military chaplains, and Catholic civilians. Given the recent attacks, the time has come for a new defense of Pius — because, despite allegations to the contrary, the best historical evidence now confirms both that Pius XII was not silent and that almost no one at the time thought him so.

In January 1940, for instance, the Pope issued instructions for Vatican Radio to reveal “the dreadful cruelties of uncivilized tyranny” the Nazis were inflicting on Jewish and Catholic Poles. Reporting the broadcast the following week, the Jewish Advocate of Boston praised it for what it was: an “outspoken denunciation of German atrocities in Nazi Poland, declaring they affronted the moral conscience of mankind.”

The New York Times editorialized: “Now the Vatican has spoken, with authority that cannot be questioned, and has confirmed the worst intimations of terror which have come out of the Polish darkness.” In England, the Manchester Guardian hailed Vatican Radio as “tortured Poland’s most powerful advocate.”

Any fair and thorough reading of the evidence demonstrates that Pius XII was a persistent critic of Nazism. Consider just a few highlights of his opposition before the war:

Of the forty-four speeches Pacelli gave in Germany as Papal Nuncio between 1917 and 1929, forty denounced some aspect of the emerging Nazi ideology.

In March 1935, he wrote an open letter to the bishop of Cologne calling the Nazis “false prophets with the pride of Lucifer.”

That same year, he assailed ideologies “possessed by the superstition of race and blood” to an enormous crowd of pilgrims at Lourdes. At Notre Dame in Paris two years later, he named Germany “that noble and powerful nation whom bad shepherds would lead astray into an ideology of race.”

The Nazis were “diabolical,” he told friends privately. Hitler “is completely obsessed,” he said to his long-time secretary, Sister Pascalina. “All that is not of use to him, he destroys;…this man is capable of trampling on corpses.” Meeting in 1935 with the heroic anti-Nazi Dietrich von Hildebrand, he declared, “There can be no possible reconciliation” between Christianity and Nazi racism; they were like “fire and water.”

The year after Pacelli became secretary of state in 1930, Vatican Radio was established, essentially under his control. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano had an uneven record, though it would improve as Pacelli gradually took charge (extensively reporting Kristallnacht in 1938, for example). But the radio station was always good — making such controversial broadcasts as the request that listeners pray for the persecuted Jews in Germany after the 1935 Nuremberg Legislation.

It was while Pacelli was his predecessor’s chief adviser that Pius XI made the famous statement to a group of Belgian pilgrims in 1938 that “anti-Semitism is inadmissible; spiritually we are all Semites.” And it was Pacelli who drafted Pius XI’s encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, or With Burning Concern, a condemnation of Germany among the harshest ever issued by the Holy See. Indeed, throughout the 1930s, Pacelli was widely lampooned in the Nazi press as Pius XI’s “Jew-loving” cardinal, because of the more than fifty-five protests he sent the Germans as the Vatican secretary of state.

To these must be added highlights of Pius XII’s actions during the war:

His first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, rushed out in 1939 to beg for peace, was in part a declaration that the proper role of the papacy was to plead to both warring sides rather than to blame one. But it very pointedly quoted St. Paul, “There is neither Gentile nor Jew,” using the word “Jew” specifically in the context of rejecting racial ideology. The New York Times greeted the encyclical with a front-page headline on October 28, 1939: Pope Condemns Dictators, Treaty Violators, Racism. Allied airplanes dropped thousands of copies on Germany in an effort to raise anti-Nazi sentiment.

In 1939 and 1940, Pius acted as a secret intermediary between the German plotters against Hitler and the British. He would similarly risk warning the Allies about the impending German invasions of Holland, Belgium, and France.

In March 1940, Pius granted an audience to Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister and the only high-ranking Nazi to bother visiting the Vatican. The Germans’ understanding of Pius’s position, at least, was clear: Ribbentrop chastised the Pope for siding with the Allies. Whereupon Pius began reading from a long list of German atrocities. “In the burning words he spoke to Herr Ribbentrop,” the New York Times reported on March 14, Pius “came to the defense of Jews in Germany and Poland.”

When French bishops issued pastoral letters in 1942 attacking deportations, Pius sent his Nuncio to protest to the Vichy government against “the inhuman arrests and deportations of Jews from the French-occupied zone to Silesia and parts of Russia.” Vatican Radio commented on the bishops’ letters six days in a row — at a time when listening to Vatican Radio was a crime in Germany and Poland for which some were put to death. Pope Is Said to Plead for Jews Listed for Removal from France, the New York Times headline read on August 6, 1942. Vichy Seizes Jews; Pope Pius Ignored, the Times reported three weeks later.

In retaliation, in the fall of 1942, Goebbels’s office distributed ten million copies of a pamphlet naming Pius XII as the “pro-Jewish Pope” and explicitly citing his interventions in France.

In the summer of 1944, after the liberation of Rome but before the war’s end, Pius told a group of Roman Jews who had come to thank him for his protection: “For centuries, Jews have been unjustly treated and despised. It is time they were treated with justice and humanity, God wills it and the Church wills it. St. Paul tells us that the Jews are our brothers. They should also be welcomed as friends.”

As these and hundreds of other examples are disparaged, one by one, in recent books attacking Pius XII, the reader loses sight of the huge bulk of them, their cumulative effect that left no one, the Nazis least of all, in doubt about the Pope’s position.

A deeper examination reveals the consistent pattern. Writers like Cornwell and Zuccotti see the Pope’s 1941 Christmas address, for example, as notable primarily for its failure to use the language we would use today. But contemporary observers thought it quite explicit. In its editorial the following day, the New York Times declared, “The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas….In calling for a ‘real new order’ based on ‘liberty, justice, and love,’…the pope put himself squarely against Hitlerism.”

So, too, the Pope’s Christmas message the following year — in which he expressed his concern “for those hundreds of thousands who, without any fault of their own, sometimes only by reason of their nationality or race, are marked down for death or progressive extinction” — was widely understood to be a public condemnation of the Nazi extermination of the Jews. Indeed, the Germans themselves saw it as such: “His speech is one long attack on everything we stand for….He is clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews….He is virtually accusing the German people of injustice toward the Jews, and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals,” an internal Nazi analysis reads.

This Nazi awareness, moreover, had potentially dire consequences. There were ample precedents for the Pope to fear an invasion: Napoleon had besieged the Vatican in 1809, capturing Pius VII at bayonet point; Pius IX fled Rome for his life after the assassination of his chancellor; and Leo XIII was driven into temporary exile in the late nineteenth century.

Still, Pius XII was “ready to let himself be deported to a concentration camp rather than do anything against his conscience,” Mussolini’s foreign minister railed. Hitler spoke openly of entering the Vatican to “pack up that whole whoring rabble,” and Pius knew of the various Nazi plans to kidnap him. Ernst von Weizsecker has written that he regularly warned Vatican officials against provoking Berlin.

The Nazi ambassador to Italy, Rudolf Rahn, similarly describes one of Hitler’s kidnapping plots and the effort by German diplomats to prevent it. General Carlo Wolff testified to having received orders from Hitler in 1943 to “occupy as soon as possible the Vatican and Vatican City, secure the archives and the art treasures, which have a unique value, and transfer the Pope, together with the Curia, for their protection, so that they cannot fall into the hands of the Allies and exert a political influence.” Early in December 1943, Wolff managed to talk Hitler out of the plan.

In assessing what actions Pius XII might have taken, many wish that explicit excommunications had been announced. The Catholic-born Nazis had already incurred automatic excommunication for everything from failure to attend Mass to unconfessed murder to public repudiation of Christianity. And, as his writings and table-talk make clear, Hitler had ceased to consider himself a Catholic — indeed, considered himself an anti-Catholic — long before he came to power. But a papal declaration of excommunication might have done some good.

Then again, it might not. Don Luigi Sturzo, founder of the Christian Democratic movement in wartime Italy, pointed out that the last times “a nominal excommunication was pronounced against a head of state,” neither Queen Elizabeth I nor Napoleon had changed policy. And there is reason to believe provocation would, as Margherita Marchione puts it, “have resulted in violent retaliation, the loss of many more Jewish lives, especially those then under the protection of the Church, and an intensification of the persecution of Catholics.”

Holocaust survivors such as Marcus Melchior, the chief rabbi of Denmark, argued that “If the Pope had spoken out, Hitler would probably have massacred more than six million Jews and perhaps ten times ten million Catholics, if he had the power to do so.” Robert M.W. Kempner called upon his experience at the Nuremberg trials to say in a letter to the editor after Commentary published an excerpt from Guenter Lewy in 1964, “Every propaganda move of the Catholic Church against Hitler’s Reich would have been not only ‘provoking suicide,’…but would have hastened the execution of still more Jews and priests.”

This is hardly a speculative concern. A Dutch bishops’ pastoral letter condemning “the unmerciful and unjust treatment meted out to Jews” was read in Holland’s Catholic churches in July 1942. The well-intentioned letter — which declared that it was inspired by Pius XII — backfired. As Pinchas Lapide notes: “The saddest and most thought-provoking conclusion is that whilst the Catholic clergy in Holland protested more loudly, expressly, and frequently against Jewish persecutions than the religious hierarchy of any other Nazi-occupied country, more Jews — some 110,000 or 79 percent of the total — were deported from Holland to death camps.”

Bishop Jean Bernard of Luxembourg, an inmate of Dachau from 1941 to 1942, notified the Vatican that “whenever protests were made, treatment of prisoners worsened immediately.” Late in 1942, Archbishop Sapieha of Cracow and two other Polish bishops, having experienced the Nazis’ savage reprisals, begged Pius not to publish his letters about conditions in Poland. Even Susan Zuccotti admits that in the case of the Roman Jews, the Pope “might well have been influenced by a concern for Jews in hiding and for their Catholic protectors.”

One might ask, of course, what could have been worse than the mass murder of six million Jews? The answer is the slaughter of hundreds of thousands more. And it was toward saving those it could that the Vatican worked. The fate of Italian Jews has become a major topic of Pius’s critics, the failure of Catholicism at its home supposedly demonstrating the hypocrisy of any modern papal claim to moral authority. Notice, for example, Zuccotti’s title: Under His Very Windows. But the fact remains that while approximately 80 percent of European Jews perished during World War II, 80 percent of Italian Jews were saved.

In the months Rome was under German occupation, Pius XII instructed Italy’s clergy to save lives by all means. A neglected source for Pius’s actions during this time is the 1965 memoir But for the Grace of God, by Monsignor J. Patrick Carroll-Abbing, who worked under Pius as a rescuer. Beginning in October 1943, Pius asked churches and convents throughout Italy to shelter Jews. As a result — and despite the fact that Mussolini and the Fascists yielded to Hitler’s demand for deportations — many Italian Catholics defied the German orders.

In Rome, 155 convents and monasteries sheltered some five thousand Jews. At least three thousand found refuge at the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. Sixty Jews lived for nine months at the Gregorian University, and many were sheltered in the cellar of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Hundreds found sanctuary within the Vatican itself. Following Pius’s instructions, individual Italian priests, monks, nuns, cardinals, and bishops were instrumental in preserving thousands of Jewish lives. Cardinal Boetto of Genoa saved at least eight hundred. The bishop of Assisi hid three hundred Jews for over two years. The bishop of Campagna and two of his relatives saved 961 more in Fiume.

Cardinal Pietro Palazzini, then assistant vice rector of the Seminario Romano, hid Michael Tagliacozzo and other Italian Jews at the seminary (which was Vatican property) for several months in 1943 and 1944. In 1985, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, honored the cardinal as a righteous gentile — and, in accepting the honor, Palazzini stressed that “the merit is entirely Pius XII’s, who ordered us to do whatever we could to save the Jews from persecution.” Some of the laity helped as well, and, in their testimony afterwards, consistently attributed their inspiration to the Pope.

Again, the most eloquent testimony is the Nazis’ own. Fascist documents published in 1998 (and summarized in Marchione’s Pope Pius XII) speak of a German plan, dubbed “Rabat-Fohn,” to be executed in January 1944. The plan called for the 8th Division of the SS Cavalry, disguised as Italians, to seize St. Peter’s and “massacre Pius XII with the entire Vatican” — and specifically names “the papal protest in favor of the Jews” as the cause.

A similar story can be traced across Europe. There is room to argue that more ought to have been attempted by the Catholic Church — for the unanswerable facts remain that Hitler did come to power, World War II did occur, and six million Jews did die. But the place to begin that argument is with the truth that people of the time, Nazis and Jews alike, understood the Pope to be the world’s most prominent opponent of the Nazi ideology.

As early as December 1940, in an article in Time Magazine, Albert Einstein paid tribute to Pius: “Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly.”

In 1943, Chaim Weizmann, who would become Israel’s first president, wrote that “the Holy See is lending its powerful help wherever it can to mitigate the fate of my persecuted co-religionists.”

Moshe Sharett, Israel’s second prime minister, met with Pius in the closing days of the war. Sharett wrote, “I told him that my first duty was to thank him, and through him the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish public for all they had done in the various countries to rescue Jews.”

Rabbi Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Israel, sent a message in February 1944 declaring, “The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion, which form the very foundation of true civilization, are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of Divine Providence in this world.”

In September 1945, Leon Kubowitzky, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, personally thanked the Pope for his interventions, and the World Jewish Congress donated $20,000 to Vatican charities in recognition of the work of the Holy See in rescuing Jews from Fascist and Nazi persecutions.

In 1955, when Italy celebrated the tenth anniversary of its liberation, the Union of Italian Jewish Communities proclaimed April 17 a “Day of Gratitude” for the Pope’s wartime assistance.

On May 26, 1955, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra flew to Rome to give in the Vatican a special performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony — an expression of the State of Israel’s enduring gratitude to the Pope for help given the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

This last example is particularly significant. As a matter of state policy, the Israeli Philharmonic has never played the music of Richard Wagner because of his well-known reputation as “Hitler’s composer,” the cultural patron saint of the Third Reich. During the 1950’s especially, the Israeli public, hundreds of thousands of whom were Holocaust survivors, still viewed Wagner as a symbol of the Nazi regime.

It is inconceivable that the Israeli government would have paid for the entire orchestra to travel to Rome to pay tribute to “Hitler’s Pope.” On the contrary, the Israeli Philharmonic’s unprecedented concert in the Vatican was a unique communal gesture of collective recognition for a great friend of the Jewish people.

Hundreds of other memorials could be cited. In her conclusion to Under His Very Windows, Susan Zuccotti dismisses as wrong-headed, ill-informed, or even devious the praise Pius XII received from Jewish leaders and scholars, as well as expressions of gratitude from the Jewish chaplains and Holocaust survivors who bore personal witness to the assistance of the pope.

That she does so is disturbing. To deny the legitimacy of their gratitude to Pius XII is tantamount to denying the credibility of their personal testimony and judgment about the Holocaust itself. “More than all others,” recalled Elio Toaff, an Italian Jew who lived through the Holocaust and later became Chief Rabbi of Rome, “We had the opportunity of experiencing the great compassionate goodness and magnanimity of the Pope during the unhappy years of the persecution and terror, when it seemed that for us there was no longer an escape.”

But Zuccotti is not alone. There is a disturbing element in nearly all the current work on Pius. Except for Rychlak’s Hitler, the War and the Pope, none of the recent books — from Cornwell’s vicious attack in Hitler’s Pope to McInerny’s uncritical defense in The Defamation of Pius XII — is finally about the Holocaust. All are about using the sufferings of Jews fifty years ago to force changes upon the Catholic Church today.

It is this abuse of the Holocaust that must be rejected. A true account of Pius XII would arrive at exactly the opposite to Cornwell’s conclusion: Pius XII was not Hitler’s Pope but instead was the closest Jews had come to having a papal supporter and at the moment when it mattered most.

Writing in Yad Vashem Studies in 1983, John S. Conway, the leading authority on the Vatican’s eleven-volume Acts and Documents of the Holy See During the Second World War, concluded, “A close study of the many thousands of documents published in these volumes lends little support to the thesis that ecclesiastical self-preservation was the main motive behind the attitudes of the Vatican diplomats. Rather, the picture that emerges is one of a group of intelligent and conscientious men seeking to pursue the paths of peace and justice at a time when these ideals were ruthlessly being rendered irrelevant in a world of ‘total war.’”

These neglected volumes which the English reader can find summarized in Pierre Blet’s Pius XII and the Second World War “will reveal ever more clearly and convincingly” as John Paul told a group of Jewish leaders in Miami in 1987 “how deeply Pius XII felt the tragedy of the Jewish people and how hard and effectively he worked to assist them.”

The Talmud teaches that “whosoever preserves one life, it is accounted to him by Scripture as if he had preserved a whole world.” More than any other twentieth-century leader, Pius fulfilled this Talmudic dictum when the fate of European Jewry was at stake. No other Pope had been so widely praised by Jews, and they were not mistaken. Their gratitude, as well as that of the entire generation of Holocaust survivors, testifies that Pius XII was, genuinely and profoundly, a righteous gentile.

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“Russia’s Western Frontier Has Become a Desert”

Another great piece from the Saker. He has an excellent point. It’s time to give up on the Ukies. They are determined to marry into the West and become the West’s newest colony. It will ruin them economically, but they don’t care. Ukraine no longer has any connection with Russia. There are no more two brother peoples. That’s all over. Time to let them go. They’re Nazis anyway. Let the Europeans have them!

He makes some excellent points about Western Ukraine. As you can see, every time Russia was invaded, the invaders came through the Western Ukraine. Since 1600, Western Ukraine was chopped off Russia by various Catholic Western powers to be used a foothold inside Russia and a base for attacking Russia.

This started around 1600 when it was conquered by the Polish-Ukrainian Commonwealth. Around this time, the Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church split off and joined the Eastern Catholic rite, aligning themselves with Rome, the West and as we shall see, the perennial enemies and invaders of Russia. The Russians have never forgiven the Ukrainians for what they see as the heresy and treason of this schism.

Later Western, Catholic Napoleon moved into Russia via the Ukraine. Then the Austro-Hungarian Empire carved off the Western Ukraine and made it a part of that Western Catholic Empire. During WW1, the Ukrainians rounded up tens of thousands of Russians in their land and sent them to a concentration camp in Romania where many of them died.

This region and especially the Rusyn region to the south, has been the scene of many Russianizer-Russiaphobe battles since the last half of the 1800’s. One part of the population wanted to Russianize and maintain a close relationship with, or even annex themselves to, Russia and the other group saw themselves as Ukrainians and wanted to become an independent state.They spent a good part of the time from 1850-1921 persecuting each other.

In World War 2, once again, the Western Catholic invaders, this time the Germans again in the form of the Nazis, moved into Russia via the Ukraine. Many Western Ukrainians greeted them with flowers and gleefully assisted in the Jew- and Commie-killing. Their leader was a man named Bandera, who allied himself closely with the Nazis.

During WW2, there was a short-lived pro-Nazi Vichy-like regime in Western Ukraine. Bandera’s group not only killed many Jews, but they also slaughtered many Poles. The reason for this is uncertain but perhaps it was a Ukraine for Ukrainians thing. Bandera is still the hero of the Western Ukrainians who are also voracious anti-Semites. Many Western Ukrainian militias openly use Nazi memorabilia. During Western Ukrainian protests, Nazi graffiti often appears on the nearby buildings. Swastikas in particular are favored.

And with the birth of the Maidan, as we can see, once again the anti-Orthodox West has once again captured the Ukraine, installed another fanatical anti-Russian government, and had plans to use the Western Ukraine once again as a base to attack Holy Mother Russia. So you can see why Russians are alarmed, to put it mildly.

Russia’s Western Frontier Has Become a Desert

Warning: the following is not an analysis, it is a “cri du coeur” !

Looking at the photo of the three stooges oh so proud of having “prevailed” over that evil Russia I have very mixed feelings. On one that, I have a sense of immense disgust. No, not for the the Eurobureaucrats or for Poroshenko – they are true to character.

No, my disgust is directed at that sorry pseudo-ethnicity called “the Ukrainians” and which now has fractured into two mutually exclusive groups: the real “Ukrainians” – the Russians from “core Russia” (which is the real meaning of the expressions “Malorossia” or “Small Russia”) who live on Russia’s western frontier (the real meaning of the word “u-krainy“) and the pseudo-Ukrainian ex-homo sovieticus (I call them Ukies) who mutated into pseudo-Europeans and who now fancy themselves as “Europeans” just because they volunteered to become the next Anglo-Zionist colony.

These are the folks who traded a 1000-year old history for the (imaginary) prize which the capitalists have been dangling in front of their collective noses like a carrot before a donkey. Two things characterize these folks: they are phenomenally ignorant of pretty much everything, but especially of their own history, and their credulity is quite literally infinite. In other words – they are terminally stupid. As for their spiritual or cultural values, they don’t extend beyond what is shown on a typical commercial on TV.

It is at this point my thinking that I move from disgust to relief. Relief that modern Russia will not have to deal with such a morally degenerate and spiritually corrupt population.

I am Russian. My family roots go far back into the Russian middle-ages and for me each phase in Russian history – whether good or bad – has its own spiritual significance.

From the birth of Russia at the baptism of Saint Vladimir, to the heroic resistance of Saint Alexander Nevsky, to the gradual formation of a new Russia under Ivan III, to the tragic period of Ivan IV, the Stoglav, the tragic Old Rite Schism, the spiritual desert of the reign of Peter I, to the rebirth of Russia through the times of Alexander II and Alexander III and to the martyrdom and final transition form an earthly empire to a spiritual reality under the Czar-Martyr Nicholas II – each of these moments in history can only be understood through spiritual eyes and not by means of materialistic categories.

And even though modern Russia is still spiritually sick, very sick, I clearly perceive the signs of a spiritual revival, or a gradual shedding of the materialistic delusions which had been imposed upon the Russian people during the 20th century.

What some (correctly) call a “clash of civilizations” between Russia and the West is a reality. Likewise, when the Ukrainian propaganda speaks of a “civilizational choice” it is inadvertently expressing a profound spiritual truth. Russia is barely standing up, still shaking and in many ways confused, but already it is resisting the capitalist rot which is corroding the western civilization and Russia is already (correctly) perceived as a threat by the western plutocracy. If this is what a weak and still confused Russia is capable of, just imagine what it could do if it fully recovered its true spiritual and cultural identity and strength!

So this for me is a crucial question: does the slowly healing Russia really need to live under the same cultural/civilizational roof with the kind of folks which brought Iatseniuk or Poroshenko to power? I say let Europe deal with them! In fact, the Ukies and the EU richly *deserve* each other.

Yes, I know, Kiev is the cradle of the entire Russian civilization, but did Christ Himself not say:

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

(Matt. 5:29).

I don’t want Russia to perish for the Ukraine, much less for for the pseudo-Ukraine I call “Banderastan”.

The Pope’s Crusaders came from the West. Napoleon’s Masons came from the West. The German and Austro-Hungarian imperialists came from the West. Then the Nazis came from the West. Now the Anglo-Zionists are coming from the West. In the past, each time the “outer-Russians” (the correct translation of “Grand Russians”) came and saved the Ukraine from these invaders and they did that a a huge cost for Russia.

But at least in the past the real Ukrainians never confused the occupier and the liberator. Nowadays this has changed. In fact, the modern “Ukrainians” think that they are feeling a deep kinship with the invader, they even identify with him. I think that Russia should stop pretending that this is not happening and that these two are “brother” nations. Okay, maybe they were brothers in the past, but now all they share is the brotherhood of Cain and Abel.

There is no continuity between Saint Vladimir and Poroshenko and what we are observing in Kiev today is what the Scripture call the “the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place“. And the Ukies like it that way. They have no use for holiness. I say let them have it!

Yes, of course, there is Novorussia which Russia cannot and will not abandon. And Crimea will forever remain part of Russia. And there are still real Russians in Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Mariupol, Nikolaev, Odessa and even in Kiev. But these Russians either cannot or don’t want to fight to free their land from the current western occupier and they need to live with the consequences of this choice.

As for the rest of Russia, I hope to see it turn to the North and the East were its real future lies. Let the EU deal with Banderastan, let Banderastan deal with the EU and let them jointly enjoy their role as faithful servants of the plutocratic elite which administers the European Anglo-Zionist protectorate on behalf of the USA. Let the Ukies, the Balts and the East-Europeans all race each other to see who will get the title of “employee of the month” from Uncle Sam. Let them bask in their new-found pride to have finally become full members of the civilization of Walmart and McDonald’s.

And let them keep on digging a deep trench all along the Russian-Ukrainian border. While it is, of course, militarily useless (what in the world are the Ukie generals thinking?!) is a a fantastic symbol of what the ex-Ukraine now “EU-associated Banderastan has become”. Russian kids should be bussed in from their schools and shown this trench while their teachers explain to them what kind of people dug this trench and why.

Russia’s western frontier has become a desert. It is high time for Russia to accept this reality and act on it.

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The Catholic Church Has Had Its Own Reformation

I asked commenter Atheist Indian whether the Catholic Church had gone through any reformations. He replied that the Church had gone through a reformation of its own:

With the advent of Renaissance in Europe and the subsequent loss of its authority and hold on public life, the Catholic church had to evolve to survive in a world where intellectualism could flourish, without being able to prosecute what it felt where ‘heretic’ thoughts and ideas.

Feudalism, which enjoyed the support and patronage of the church, waned and wore off in a post-Renaissance reality where “all men are born equal” (or as equal as can be, in those times). The church and Christianity as a religion went from an infallible public authority to something that is a lifestyle choice, like whether to wear skirts or not.

I agree with him about Catholicism. The Church stopped burning heretics, quit interfering in science, and in the 20th Century, has moved much further towards socialism than Protestants ever have. Even hardcore “traditional Catholic” types are quite socialist on economics. Typically they support producerism and distributism and rail against both capitalism and socialism as evils. It’s quite obvious that laissez faire capitalism is a profoundly anti-Christian doctrine. It doesn’t take much thinking to figure that out.

Of course, liberal Catholics have been socialist minded forever now. Here in the US, the Church heirarchy always supports “the preferential option of the poor” as they call Liberation Theology in Latin America. Meanwhile, Liberation Theology is a huge trend in Latin America.

No such obvious trend is visible anywhere in Protestantism, and in fact, fundamentalist Protestantism promotes a profoundly reactionary, feudalist, and anti-equality doctrine in Latin America. It’s pie in the sky when you die and kill the Catholic Commies. Rios Montt murdered 10-20,000 Guatemalan civilians in less than a year while Reagan cheered. He did this all in the name of “kill the Commie Catholics” doctrine.

Curiously, in Colombia, Protestants have long been regarded as possible Commies as they were not Catholic, and all good Colombians are Catholics. Suffice to say though that fundamentalist Protestantism is the leading edge of reaction in Latin America the same way it is the US, Canada and everywhere else on Earth. Protestantism is so reactionary nowadays that one could be forgiven if you thought that Catholicism was the reform movement and Protestantism was the backwards feudalist form from the Middle Ages. It’s as if Luther was never born.

In recent years, the Vatican has launched far ahead the Protestants in many ways. The Vatican settled their beef with the Jews to their credit. Papal encyclicals actually lent credence to Liberation Theology while exposing schisms in the Church. Recently, the Church stated that both alien life and evolution were completely compatible with Catholic teaching.

The Church has even stated that it is normal and acceptable for some persons to have homosexual impulses and feelings. The real reactionary elements in Christianity anymore are the Protestants – only Protestants oppose evolution.

In most Catholic countries, the Left is either in power or very powerful. Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Austria and Poland all have or have had a strong Left. The Left is strong and armed in the Philippines, mostly because of Catholicism.

The Latin American Left is very strong in El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela and Ecuador. Here you have priests running around with machine guns fighting with armed guerrilla bands. Former priests are Leftist leaders in Haiti, Nicaragua and Paraguay.

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“Drunk and Disorderly: The Joys of Ranterism and Other Topics,” by Jacob Bauthumley

For white English or American readers of this blog, a question.

Who went to church this morning? Go on, own up. Nobody?

Coming home on the bike I passed the Catholic church on the corner of my block (West Earlham). Everyone was of Indian origin, speaking Indian languages! In white Norwich! Not a white Caucasian in sight.

This morning I was up extremely early, and at first light I was worshipping at the church of my allotment, delighting in the alchemy of all life. Yes really! Just enjoying it.

Then, I went scrumping windfall apples, and gathered 150lb of different varieties, which I moved on my bike trailer in an old plastic cistern back to my friend Ruth’s place. I am so knackered now that I have to go back to bed. I’ve been up since 4am, and I’ve had three hours’ sleep. What the hell. Sleep it off, baby. It’s a Sunday!

I rang a friend, a local poet, and he put me in touch with a local cider maker with a press, out in rural Norfolk, in Old Buckenham. My friend John and I plan to turn the apples into ten gallons of cider and sour the cider to make ten gallons of cider vinegar.

Religious views are a very tricky area, aren’t they? The two things you are not supposed to discuss in polite English society are religion and politics. It is clear that I do not have the manners of an Englishman, since I talk about both.

My nom de guerre Abiezer Coppe gives his views on the Christian religion at the end of the piece.

I have been at times an Marxist atheist, an Marxist agnostic, and a Marxist with Christian leanings. In the next phase of my life I shall settle for a Marxist gnosticism, marrying the rational materialist dialectic of Marx, to the otherworldly insights of the Christian Gnostics, starting with Valentinus (3rd Century AD). I am in good company. Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) was also a kind of Marxist gnostic. True, he was a Stalinist, too, but Stalinism is not the main thrust of his remarkable magnum opus on Hope, Das Prinzip Hoffnug, or of his biography of the 15th Century revolutionary peasant leader, Thomas Munzer, which I found in French translation.

Spiritual search: should I give it up entirely? I have tried the Cheshire Cat Buddhists at the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (I swear they all had the same smile) but they gave me the creeps, as every religious group does.

Experiential spirituality is the only type I can connect to: I learned Vipassana meditation once. Ten day silent retreats in Herefordshire, no speaking, no eye contact: it takes a lot to discipline a wild mind. I’ve always been poor, and even the poor can afford it: I gave service instead of cash, and went back and worked in the kitchens on another retreat.

Vipassana was good, and it works, but who wants to spend two hours a day sitting on their arse meditating? It certainly chills you out like nothing else does, the ten day retreat. You come out feeling clean, really clean. A good friend of mine called L–a came on a Herefordshire retreat with me (I drove my totally illegal French taxed, French MOT’d and French insured Citroen BX from Norwich to Herefordshire and back, and around on the roads of the UK for 2 years, and the police never stopped me once). She’d smoked dope and tobacco, and drank alcohol all her life. After the 10 day retreat she just stopped, without even a struggle. No alcohol, no drugs, no tobacco. She just didn’t want them anymore.

Buddha was really onto something, then. Buddhism is a practical spirituality centered on the practice of compassion, and the meditative practices of Buddhism actually renders one more compassionate. It can’t be a bad thing.

I’ve met atheists and Marxists who are – or seem – spiritual, and plenty of Christians who are not. It’s about the being, the beingness of the person, the kind of love they put forth into the world. I’ve met Muslims with a spiritual energy to die for.

Spirituality is? – taking the risk in every moment to be honest, to connect with other beings (it might be a frog, my favourite amphibian) and live and love from my deepest sense of whom I am, from my wild and untamed self. And damn the consequences. It’s difficult. We are English. We are fairly shy. We like dissimulation and subterfuge; it is what, as a nation, we are more comfortable with. At least the chattering classes, the bourgeois, the middle classes. I can only speak for my own class, and I am not Jay Griffiths, though I admire her guts. I am more comfortable with Latins, personally, than the emotionally repressed public school Englishman (I did that. I went to a small private boarding school in Suffolk for six years).

WYSWYG: What You See Is What You Get, in my experience with people of Latin  extraction.

If they don’t like you they come straight out with it. I respect that. In fact, seriously, who would WANT to live any other way once the inner wild being in each of us is brought to light? Who then would settle for the psychic equivalent of suburbia?

Read Wild: An Elemental Journey, by Jay Griffiths, to get an idea of what we have lost touch with, our mammalian, our animal nature, our inner wild being. Once we were wild beings, too.

Wild: An Elemental Journey is a magnificent book, and the woman has bags of courage, lots of cojones, as the Spanish say. Maybe we need to “re-wild” ourselves a bit (if a return to barbarism is all that’s in the offing, barring a socialist revolution: Socialism or Barbarism, Rosa Luxemburg), like Jay, sing from the rooftops, dance naked, and masturbate on a rock in the sun, as Jay describes doing in her book: she was doing a bit of Deep Ecology that day, connecting with nature, worshipping the sun and giving her all to the big O. Her account is in the book.

People are rarely so frank. In fact she was intensely lonely, in a wild place, far from human company. The orgasm brought her back to her sense of self, and reconnected her with her surroundings. Orgasm as sacramental act; I like it. Spirituality is not about going to church, it is not about which imaginary friend you have: it’s about love, love and respect for yourself, love and respect for your neighbours too, even the little frogs who come and visit me when I am harvesting vegetables I have grown.

Social revolutions are carnivals of bacchanalia, festivals of the spirit and festivals of the oppressed (Lenin), explosions of creativity and joy (it is not nice being oppressed, is it? It is often fearful, too): or they are boring barracks socialism, and end in Five Year Plans, the Fulfillment of Quotas, the Meeting of Production Targets, and the ruination of nature. And ultimately, a return to capitalism, consumerism, conformity and fear: China now. So revolutionary politics must include this spirit, as it will inspire the people of this land to rise against their oppressors.

Leftist political parties can be hard work emotionally! I didn’t see much joy and revolutionary fun in the 1970’s British Communist Party: it was a bit dour, a bit too serious, and very English. Yet there was also a real warmth among the comrades. We were en route for a better future, or so we thought…And when we stood up at District meetings and sang Jerusalem, by William Blake, it warmed my heart to sing the words of the greatest English gnostic poet, just as singing the Internationale in French to anyone who will listen does now.

Which Communist country kills 600,000 workers a year from overwork, and has a flexible working day of anything between 20 and 35 hours? China, the West’s new slave empire that produces all our electronic goodies. Someone died of exhaustion on a production line somewhere in China making my laptop…that thought does cross my mind (more here on Chinese workers).

I still identify as a Marxist, but as a Marxist Feminist Gnostic, which is totally unacceptable to the comrades! I’ve done the Communist Party (CPGB, PCF), done the Socialist Workers (SWP), but I couldn’t hack it, organised male Marxist politics (yawn…), so these days I work for the Green Party, campaign for them, but I won’t join. I’ve stopped being a joiner.

At least the UK Green Party do not have the one thousand hang-ups about the Soviet Union that the Communists had, and all that bloody coded language… They mean the things they say, too….it’s prefigurative politics, of the type I’ve always believed in. You carry the changes you want to see into your personal life. If you’ve rubbed shoulders with Stalinists for several years, as I have without ever being one of them, you’ll know how refreshing that is.

Where’s the Libertarian Marxist Feminist Gnostic Party?

That’s what I want to know. I haven’t seen one yet. When I do I’ll sign up.

I struggle with the materialist epistemology of Marxism. I have had a go at being a philosophical materialist, read the books (back in the day it was Maurice Cornforth, now completely and deservedly forgotten, and Emile Burns)  but found it kind of miserable…back in the day I read a lot of Marxists. The only ones I could go for were the outliers, the non-conformists like Ernst Bloch, a German Marxist who wrote a thousand page book about dreams, day dreams, hope and the place of utopia in the human imagination (Hope The Principle, 3 vols). Bad Marxists, utopian dreamers. William Morris and his News From Nowhere. Nowhere is where I live – the name of Utopia!

Philosophical materialism, in the forms in which I have encountered it, rules out as nonexistent that which palpably exists!

I have yet to meet a Marxist, for example, who takes homeopathic medicine at all seriously, and I trained as a homeopath, so I know it works!  They parrot the standard line. One would think that a revolutionary would have had a little more insight than that. If I had breast cancer, for example, a homeopath would be my first port of call. See Dr A U Ramakrishnan’s work in that area: consistent success across many types of cancer, with five year follow-ups, and none of the extreme toxicity and immune devastation of chemotherapy.

Mr Abiezer Coppe was, I imagine, a Christian gnostic sans le savoir, and inspired William Blake, who I think knew he wrote in the gnostic tradition (see historian E P Thompson’s last book, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law, which is a brilliant study).

That is why I identify with Blake, too, and especially with The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793), a text on the dialectic before Marx and Hegel. It is a lot more fun to read than Karl Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach, too!

The English Ranters rejected all forms of spiritual, sexual and religious authority, and insisted that the only church was the human body. They were good chaps, religious anarcho-communists before communism, and more libertarian than Gerard Winstanley’s more puritanical Diggers, the only other Commies on the block at the time.

The Ranters had a endearing habit of preaching naked (if their enemies are to be believed) in the open air, on heaths, and drinking ale and fornicating at religious meetings. Very endearing. The Ranters did not believe in sin. Ranter women are said to have looked for sin in men’s codpieces, and on being unable to find any, declared there was none. That’s a kind of healthy materialism I like. So they didn’t believe in that superstitious shit the Church teaches, either, the Virgin Birth, Original Sin, or the sexual perversions resulting from the Christian, especially Catholic, strictures on the priesthood.

The Ranters were not feminists, but you can’t have everything, and in any case, who was a feminist in 1650? Ranters believed everything should be held in common, including women; they weren’t keen on the legal union of marriage and, I guess, just as in the 1960s, these 17th Century anarcho-hippie Ranter men enjoyed their sexual revolution and their sexual libertarianism while Ranter women got pregnant, had the babies, and were left holding them on the heaths of England, bereft of the men who had sired them. Maybe the Ranter males were indeed “only around for the conception”. Nothing new there, then!

So much for sexual liberation in 1650s England. Did they know about satisfying a woman in bed?

Funnily enough a feminist historian (Alison Smith) of early modern England told me that that there was a generally held view at the time that if a woman did not have an orgasm during sex with a man, then she could not conceive. So, in the beliefs of the time, no female orgasms equaled no babies…Quite progressive really, but did condoms exist then? I doubt it – condoms came in later…18th century, I think. Any condom historians here?

English Ranterism and the Digger movement represented a political dead end. With the Cromwellian Thermidor of the English Revolution after 1649, and the general persecution and ostracism of the Ranters, a lot of them recanted their beliefs, including Abiezer Coppe, stopped railing against the rich (one of their specialties!) and settled down to become Seekers, or Quakers (who are very much in the Gnostic lineage – no priests, no service, no dogmas, no crap, just the Inner Light of Not-God, etc…) or even Muggletonians…see E P Thompson’s book on William Blake (1993) for more. He interviewed the last surviving English Muggletonian. How about that?

More on the Ranters below:

Discussion of the Ranter historical context, and Ranter views.

– Extracts from the writings of Abiezer Coppe

My comments, writing as Abiezer Coppe, on Christianity and gnosticism:

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Has Catholic Theology Always Believed Life Begins at Conception?

The answer to that question is apparently not! Most people don’t know this, but for many centuries, official Catholic doctrine held that abortion was allowable up until “quickening.” That’s when mother senses the fetus kicking in her stomach. Quickening occurs around the third or fourth month of pregnancy, around the end of the first trimester in modern phrasing. So the Church allowed abortion until the first trimester.

At that point, it was assumed to be alive, or human, or something. Thing was, abortion was rare back in those days, just like Hillary Clinton wants it to be. Before the age of antibiotics and disinfectants, abortion was not common, it was quite dangerous, and women often died during the procedure. Nevertheless, it was done. The era of surgery began long before the 20th Century.

I don’t have access to any Church doctrine from those days, so I’m not sure what they based it on.

But if you read Dante, you get some glimpses into what they may have been thinking. Dante, writing in the early 1200’s, was not a Pope or a Church father, but he was an extremely religious Catholic. That is clear in all of his writings. He lived his life this way too, and after he moved away from Florence to the east, he was well-known for cursing and throwing stones at fellow citizens who he thought were sinning for some reason or another.

Hence, Dante’s works are good for glimpsing Church doctrine in the early days, since Dante won’t support any teachings not sanctioned by the Church.

In Dante, there are passages which discuss the development of human life and the soul. They are very interesting for a peek into what the early Church felt about human life and its beginnings. Dante’s version, like much of his thinking, is very Aquinian – via St. Thomas Aquinas, the great early Christian philosopher who wrote in the 1100’s.

Dante’s version of the beginnings of human life (and the development of the human soul) is not exactly in accord with modern science, but nevertheless, it is straight from Aquinas. Early peoples had some knowledge of conception and the development of the fetus in the womb. Women miscarried back then, and when you look at the material, you can see the fetus in the rejected uterine matter. From there, they could postulate various things.

First of all, soon after conception, the beginnings of human life take shape.

******
Stage 1: Dante says that in the beginning, the fetus is animate, but it is not even yet an animal. It is more like a plant; it is “vegetative.” This seems strange, but what he means is in terms of consciousness. To say it is like a plant means it is alive, but it can’t think. Plants are alive, but they don’t seem to think. In other words, it has the soul of a plant. I assume that killing a fetus at this stage would be as sinful in Church terms as killing a plant.

Stage 2: Later the fetus changes into a form that is part-animal and part-plant. This seems odd again, but he’s again speaking in terms of consciousness, or soul. Dante describes this fetus as being like a sea anemone, or as having the soul of a sea anemone. A sea anemone is an animal that looks and somewhat acts like a plant. It probably has a brain, but clearly it’s none too bright. It’s nearly transitional between plant and animal metaphysically speaking.

It’s vegetative (alive) and it has elementary sensory abilities, but not much beyond that. Killing a fetus at this stage would be as sinful in Church terms as killing a sea anemone.

Stage 3: After that, the fetus changes into an animal. But it is a non-human animal. Once again he speaks metaphysically. This means that it can’t really reason or think intellectually, or that it has no consciousness. It’s like a dog or a cat, or it has the soul of a cat or a dog. Killing a fetus at this point would be as sinful in Church terms as killing a dog or a cat.

Stage 4: Finally, at some point, the fetus is touched by God through some sort of mechanism and it is given a soul. At that point, it becomes a human being, since non-human animals lack souls.
******

It follows from this that the Church believed that in Stages 1-3, the fetus was not yet a human being. It was presumably for this reason that abortion was allowed until quickening.

The Catholic Church is derided as reactionary, but in some ways it is more progressive than at least fundamentalist Protestantism. Recall that the original Protestants rebelled because they thought that the Church had drifted too far away from Biblical teaching. They were a back to basics movement sort of like the Salafists in Islam.

There is a corollary between the Muslim Shia and Catholicism and between the Muslim Sunni and Protestants. The Sunni are also, like Protestants, a back to basics faction, this time of Islam, that traditionally believes that everything we need to know about Islam was codified in the Quran and Hadiths back in 800 or so. Anything else is deviation at best, heresy at worst. The Shia, on the other hand, feel that Islam is open to continuous interpretation by the high priest caste, which are the Ayatollahs or mullahs.

Ayatollah is derided as a reactionary, but he made some interesting judgments. One was that transsexualism is compatible with Islam, but homosexuality is not. Homosexuality was felt to be a choice and hence a sin, while transsexuals were created by God. There is a top Ayatollah who used to be a man and turned into a woman. Some other big Ayatollah has married her and they are now man and wife.

There is also the phenomenon of temporary marriage. In the religious city of Qom in Iran, there are many institutes of Islamic studies. Religious students come there from all over Iran to study. The city is teeming with female prostitutes. In some areas, the prostitutes gather, and young male students hook up with them. Then they go find a friendly neighborhood Ayatollah who gives them a temporary marriage of one or two days. Then they go off to do the deed in the local cemetery or some such place.

In Lebanon, the Ayatollah Fadlallah is said to be rather progressive as these fellows go. He issued a famous ruling that said that female masturbation was allowed by Islam that caused quite a stir in Lebanon.

It’s things like temporary marriage and the transsexual Ayatollah that drive Sunnis up the wall. The Sunnis, like Protestants, have no religious leaders who make official interpretations or reinterpretations of doctrine. There’s nothing to be interpreted. All the interpretation has already been done.

Sometimes mullahs issue rulings of clarification, mostly to say that this or that is a sin, or to condemn this or that. Some of these come out of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. They carry a lot of weight, but most Sunnis don’t pay much attention to such rulings. A lot of fatwas get issued, but those are just condemnations. And most of the folks issuing fatwas, like Osama bin Laden, have no right to do so. Mr. bin Laden is no scholar of Islam, hence he’s not allowed to issue fatwas, and if he does, they carry no weight.

The Catholic Church is similar to the Shia in that they also have church leaders who reinterpret doctrine for the faithful. In this case, it is the Papacy. The Catholic Church reserves the right to reinterpret religious doctrine as times change. Hence they changed course and endorsed Galileo after initially opposing him.

And recently the Pope declared that evolution is compatible with Catholicism, whereas tens of millions of Protestants are still Creationists. Catholic Creationists probably don’t even exist. Why are there so many Protestant Creationists? There’s nothing in Protestant doctrine telling them it’s nonsense, and there’s not much, if any, official Protestant doctrine anyway.

So neither the Shia or Catholics are necessarily as reactionary as they are often made out to be.

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Do the Yezidis Worship the Devil?

Repost from the old site. This is a very, very long piece, so be warned. But the subject, the Yezidi religious group, is extraordinarily complex, as I found out as I delved deeper and deeper into them.

They are still very mysterious and there is a lot of scholarly controversy around them, mostly because they will not let outsiders read their holy books. However, a copy of their holiest book was stolen about 100 years ago and has been analyzed by scholars.

I feel that the analysis below of the Yezidis (there are various competing analyses of them) best summarizes what they are all about, to the extent that such an eclectic group can even be defined at all. The piece is hard to understand at first, but if you are into this sort of thing, after you study it for a while, you can start to put it together. There are also lots of cool pics of devil and pagan religious art below, for those who are interested in such arcana.

See also the companion piece, The Yezidis, a Mysterious Kurdish Religious Sect. This piece was written two years after that one when I realized that the prior piece had barely touched the surface of this very strange religious sect.

The Yezidis, a Kurdish religious group in Iraq practicing an ancient religion, have been accused of being devil worshipers by local Muslims and also by many non-Muslims. I wrote about the Yezidis in depth in a previous post; see them for more background on these interesting people.

The Yezidis appeared in Western media in 2007 due to the stoning death of a Yezidi teenage girl who ran off with a Muslim man. The stoning was done by eight men from her village while another 1000 men watched and cheered them on. Afterward, there has been a lot of conflict between Muslim and Yezidi Kurds.

As Western media turned to the Yezidis, there has been some discussion here about their odd religion. For instance, though the local Muslims condemn them as devil worshipers, the Yezidis strongly deny this. So what’s the truth? The truth, as usual, is much more complicated.

The Yezidis believe that a Creator, or God, created a set of deities that we can call gods, angels or demons, depending on how you want to look at them. So, if we say that the Yezidis worship the devil, we could as well say that they worship angels. It all depends on how you view these deities.

In the history of religion, the gods of one religion are often seen as the devils of another. This is seen even today in the anti-Islamic discourse common amongst US neoconservatives, where the Muslim God is said to be a demonic god, and their prophet is said to be a devilish man.

Christian anti-Semites refer to the Old Testament God of the Jews as being an evil god. Orthodox Jews say that Jesus Christ is being boiled alive in semen in Hell for eternity.

At any rate, to the Yezidis, the main deity created by God is Malak Taus, who is represented by a peacock. Although Yezidis dissimulate about this, anyone who studies the religion closely will learn that Malak Taus is actually the Devil.

On the other hand, the Yezidis do not worship evil as modern-day Satanists do, so the Satanist fascination with the Yezidis is irrational. The Yezidis are a primitive people; agriculturalists with a strict moral code that they tend to follow in life. Why do they worship the Devil then?

First of all, we need to understand that before the Abrahamic religions, many polytheistic peoples worshiped gods of both good and evil, worshiping the gods of good so that good things may happen, and worshiping the gods of evil so that bad things may not happen. The Yezidis see God as a source of pure good, who is so good that there is no point in even worshiping him.

In this, they resemble Gnosticism, in which God was pure good and the material world and man were seen as polluted with such evil that the world was essentially an evil place. Men had only a tiny spark of good in them amidst a sea of evil, and the Gnostics tried to cultivate this spark.

This also resembles the magical Judaism of the Middle Ages (Kabbalism). The Kabbalists said that God was “that which cannot be known” (compare to the Yezidi belief that one cannot even pray to God), in fact, the concept of God was so ethereal to the Kabbalists that mere men could not even comprehend the very concept. A Kabbalist book says that God is “endless pure white light”. This comes close to my own view of what God is.

Compare to the Yezidi view that God “pure goodness”. The Yezidi view of God is quite complex. It is clear that he is at the top of the totem pole, yet their view of him is not the same as the gods of Christianity, Islam, Judaism or of the Greeks, although it is similar to Plato’s conception of the absolute.

Instead, it is similar to the Deists. God merely created the world. As far as the day to day running of things, that is actually up to the intermediary angels. However, there is one exception. Once a year, on New Years Day, God calls his angels together and hands the power over to the angel who is to descend to Earth.

In some ways similar to the Christian Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, the Yezidis believe that God is manifested in three forms.

An inscription of the Christian Trinity, the father, or God, as an old man with a beard; Jesus, a young man, and the Holy Ghost, here depicted as a winged creature similar to Malak Tus, the winged peacock angel. Compare to Yezidi reference for Šeiḫ ‘Adî, Yazid and Malak Tus (Father, Son and Holy Ghost)

The three forms are the peacock angel, Malak Tus; an old man, Šeiḫ ‘Adî (compare to the usual Christian portrayal in paintings of God as an old man with a long white beard); and a young man, Yazid (compare to the usual Christian paintings of Jesus as a healthy European-looking man with a beard and a beatific look – a similar look is seen in Shia portraits of Ali).

Since there is no way to talk to God, one must communicate with him through intermediaries (compare to intermediary saints like Mary in Catholicism and Ali in Shiism). The Devil is sort of a wall between the pure goodness of God and this admittedly imperfect world.

This is similar again to Gnosticism, where the pure good God created intermediaries called Aeons so that a world that includes evil (as our world does) could even exist in the first place. On the other hand, Malak Tus is seen my the Yezidis as neither an evil spirit nor a fallen angel, but as a divinity in his own right.

One wonders why the Malak Tus is represented by a bird. The answer is that worshiping birds is one of the oldest known forms of idol worship. It is even condemned in Deuteronomy 4: 16, 17: “Lest ye corrupt yourselves and make a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air.”

More likely, the peacock god is leftover from the ancient pagan bird-devil gods of the region. The ancient Babylonians, Assyrians both worshiped sacred devil-birds, and carvings of them can be seen on their temples. The Zoroastrians also worshiped a sort of devil-bird called a feroher.

A winged demon from ancient Assyria. Yezidism appears to have incorporated elements of ancient Babylonian and Assyrian religions, making it ultimately a very ancient religion. Note that devils often have wings like birds. Remember the flying monkey demons in the Wizard of Oz?

The pagan Phoenicians, Philistines and Samaritans worshiped a dove, and the early monotheistic Hebrews condemned the Samaritans for this idol-worship. The pagans of Mecca also worshiped a sacred dove. Pagan Arabian tribes also worshiped an eagle called Nasar.

What is truly odd is that peacocks are not native to the Yezidi region, but instead to the island of Sri Lanka. The Yezidis must have heard about this bird from travelers and incorporated it into their religion somehow.

In the Koran, both the Devil and the peacock were thrown out of Heaven down to Earth, with the Devil and the peacock both suffering similar punishments. So here we can see Islam associating the peacock with the Devil also.

In popular mythology, peacocks tend to represent pride. Note that the Koran says that the Devil was punished for excessive pride (compare with a similar Christian condemnation of excessive pride). Peacocks are problematic domestic fowl, and tend to tear up gardens, and so are associated with mischief.

The Yezidis revere Malak Tus to such a great extent that he is almost seen as one with God (compare the Catholic equation of Mary with Jesus, the Christian association of Jesus with God, and the Shia Muslim association of Ali with Mohammad).

Malak Tus was there from the start and will be there at the end, he has total control over the world, he is omniscient and omnipresent and he never changes. They do not allow anyone to say his name, as this seems to imply that he is degraded. Malak Tus is the King of the Angels, and he is ruling the Earth for a period of 10,000 years.

They also superstitiously avoid saying an word that resembles the word for Satan. When speaking Arabic, they refuse to use the Arabic shatt for river, as it sounds like the word for Satan. They substitute Kurdish ave instead. Compare this to the Kabbalist view of God as “that which can not even be comprehended (i.e., spoken) by man.

In addition to Malak Taus, there are six other angels: Izrafael, Jibrael, Michael, Nordael, Dardael, Shamnael, and Azazael. They were all at a meeting in Heaven when God told them that they would worship no one other than him. This worked for 40,000 years, until God mixed Earth, Air, Fire and Water to create Man, as Adam.

God told the seven angels to bow before Adam, and six agreed. Malak Taus refused, citing God’s order to obey only Him. Hence, Malak Taus was cast out of Heaven and became the Archangel of all the Angels. Compare this to the Christian and Muslim view of the Devil, the head of the angels, being thrown out of Heaven for the disobedience of excessive pride.

In the meantime, Malak Taus is said to have repented his sins and returned to God as an angel. So, yes, the Yezidis do worship the Devil, but in their religion, he is a good guy, not a bad guy. They are not a Satanic cult at all. In Sufism, the act of refusing to worship Adam (man) over God would be said to be a positive act, one of refusing to worship the created over the creator, as in Sufism, one is not to worship anything but God.

The Yezidis say that God created Adam and Eve, but when they were asked to produce their essences, Adam’s produced a boy, but Eve’s was full of insects and other unpleasant things. God decided that he would propagate humanity (the Yezidis) out of Adam alone, leaving Eve out of the picture. Specifically, he married Adam’s offspring to a houri.

We can see the traditional views of the Abrahamic religions of women as being sources of evil, tempters, sources of strife, conflict and other bad things. The Yezidis see themselves as different from all other humans. Whereas non-Yezidis are the products of Adam and Eve, Yezidis are the products of Adam alone.

Eve subsequently left the Garden of Eden, which allowed the world to be created. So, what the Abrahamic religions see as man’s greatest fall in the Garden, the Yezidis see as mankind’s greatest triumphs. The Yezidis feel that the rest of humanity of is descended from Ham, who mocked his father, God.

Compare this to the Abrahamic religions’ view of women as a source of corruption. Christians say that Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden, causing them to be tossed out. In Islam, women are regarded as such a source of temptation and fitna (dissension) that they are covered and often kept out of sight at all times. In Judaism, women’s hair is so tempting to men that they must shave it all off and wear wigs.

The Yezidis say they are descended directly from Adam, hence they are the Chosen People (compare to the Jewish view of themselves as “Chosen People”).

Yezidism being quite possible the present-day remains of the original religion of the Kurds, we must acknowledge that for the last 2000 years, the Yezidis have been fighting off other major religions. First Christianity came to the region.

As would be expected, the Nestorian Christians of Northern Iraq, or “Nasara” Christian apostates, as an older tradition saw them, hold that the Yezidis were originally Christians who left the faith to form a new sect. The Nestorians and other ancient Christian sects deny the human or dual nature of Jesus – instead seeing him as purely divine.

This is in contrast to another group also called “Nasara” in Koran – these being the early Jewish Christian sects such as the Ebionites, Nazarenes and Gnostics, who followed Jesus but denied his divine nature, believe only in the Book of Matthew, and retained many Jewish traditions, including revering the Jewish Torah, refusing to eat pork, keeping the Sabbath and circumcision.

Mohammad apparently based his interpretation of Christianity on these sects. The divinity of Jesus was denied in the Koran under Ebionite influence. The Koran criticizes Christians for believing in three Gods – God, Jesus and Mary – perhaps under the influence of what is called the “Marianistic heresy”. At the same time, the Koran confused human and divine qualities in Jesus due to Nestorian influence.

Finally, the Koran denied the crucifixion due to Gnostic influence, especially the apocryphal Gospel of Peter. The local Muslims, similarly, hold that the Yezidis are apostates, having originally been Muslims who left Islam to form a new religion.

There is considerable evidence that many Yezidis were formerly Christians, as the Christian story holds. Šeiḫ ’Adî, one of the tripartite of angels worshiped by the Yezidis, was a Sufi Muslim mystic from Northern Iraq in the 1100’s. He attracted many followers, including many Christians and some Muslims who left their faith to become Yezidis. Yezidism existed before Šeiḫ ’Adî, but in a different form.

Šeiḫ ’Adî also attracted many Persian Zoroastrians, who were withering under the boot of Muslim dhimmitude and occasional massacre in Iran. Šeiḫ ‘Adî (full name Šeiḫ ‘Adî Ibn Masafir Al-Hakkari) was a Muslim originally from Bait Far, in the Baalbeck region of the Bekaa Valley of what is now Eastern Lebanon.

He came to Mosul for spiritual reasons. He was said to be a very learned man, and many people started to follow him. After he built up quite a following, he retired to the mountains above Mosul where he built a monastery and lived as a hermit, spending much of his time in caves and caverns in the mountains with wild animals as his only guests.

His followers were said to worship him as a God and believed that in the afterlife, they would be together with him. He died in 1162 in the Hakkari region near Mosul. At the site of his death, the Yezidis erected a shrine and it became one of the holiest sites in the religion. However, Šeiḫ ’Adî is not the founder of Yezidism, as many believe. His life and thought just added to the many strains in this most syncretistic of religions.

The third deity in the pseudo-“Trinity” of the Yezidis is a young man named Yezid. They say they are all descended from this man, whom they often refer to as God, as they sometimes refer to Šeiḫ ’Adî. In Šeiḫ ’Adî’s temple, there are inscriptions to both Šeiḫ ’Adî and Yezid, each on opposing walls of the temple. In a corner of this temple, a fire, or actually a lamp, is kept burning all night, reminiscent of Zoroastrianism.

There is a lot of controversy about what the word Yezid in Yezidi stands for. The religion itself, in its modern form, probably grew out of followers of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan, the 2nd Caliph in the Umayyad Dynasty of Caliphs. Yazid fought a battle against Mohammad’s grandson, Hussayn, in a battle for the succession of the Caliphate.

Hussayn’s followers were also the followers of Ali, the former caliph who was assassinated. The followers of Hussayn and Ali are today known as the Shia. The Sunni follow in the tradition of the Umayyads. In a battle in Karbala in 680, Hussayn and all his men were killed at Kufa and the women and children with them taken prisoner.

To the Shia, Yazid is the ultimate villain. Most Sunnis do not view him very favorably either, and regard the whole episode as emblematic of how badly the umma had fallen apart after Mohammad died.

Nevertheless, there had been groups of Sunnis who venerated Yazid Ibn Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan and the Umayyads in general in northern Iraq for some time even before Šeiḫ ’Adî appeared on the scene. Šeiḫ ’Adî himself was descended from the Umayyads.

Reverence for Yazid Ibn Muawiyah mixed with the veneration of Šeiḫ ’Adî in the early Yezidis. It was this, mixed in with the earlier pagan beliefs of the Semites and Iranians discussed elsewhere, along with a dollop of Christianity, that formed the base of modern Yezidism. But its ultimate roots are far more ancient. Yezidism had a base, but it was not yet formed in its modern version.

Here we turn to the etymology of the word Yezidi. It is possible that the figure of “Yezid”, the young man-God in the Yezidi trinity, represents Yazid Ibn Muawiyah. By the mid-1200’s, the local Muslims were getting upset about the Yezidis excessive devotion to these two men. In the mid-1400’s the local Muslims fought a large battle against the Yezidis.

To this day, the top Yezidi mirs are all related to the Umayyads. Muslim scholars say that Yezid bin Unaisa was the founder of the modern-day Yezidis. Bin Unaisa was one of the early followers of the Kharijites, an early fanatical fundamentalist sect that resembled our modern-day Al Qaeda and other takfiri Salafi-jihadi terrorists. Bin Unaisa was said to be a follower of the earliest Kharijites.

These were the first Kharijites. Early split-offs from Ali’s army, they took part in the Battle of Nahrawan against Ali’s forces outside Madaen in what is now the Triangle of Death in Iraq. In 661, the Kharijites assassinated Ali, one of the penultimate moments in the Sunni-Shia split.

At some point, bin Unaisa split from the Kharijites, except for one of their early followers who were following a sect Al-Abaḍia, founded by ‘Abd-Allah Ibn Ibad. He said that any Muslim who committed a great sin was an infidel. Considering his fundamentalist past, he developed some very unorthodox views for a Muslim.

He said that God would send a new prophet to Persia (one more Iranian connection with the Yezidis), that God would send down a message to be written by this prophet in a book, and that this prophet would leave Islam and follow the religion of the Sabeans or Mandeans. Nevertheless, he continued to hold some Kharijite beliefs, including that God alone should be worshiped and that all sins were forms of idolatry.

In line with this analysis, the first Yezidis were a Kharijite subsect. The fact that bin Unaisa said that the new prophet would follow Sabeanism implies that he himself either followed this religion at one time or had a high opinion of it.

Muslim historians mention three main Sabean sects. They seemed to have derived in part from the ancient pagan religion of Mesopotamia. They were polytheists who worshiped the stars. After the Islamic conquest, they referred to themselves as Sabeans in order to receive protection as one of the People of the Book (the Quran mentions Jews, Christians and Sabeans and People of the Book).

One of the Sabean sects was called Al-Ḫarbâniyah. They believed that God dwelt within things that were good and rational. He had one essence but many appearances, in other words. God was pure good, and could not make anything evil. Evil was either accidental or necessary for life, or caused by an evil force. They also believed in the transmigration of souls (reincarnation).

It is interesting that the beliefs of this sect of Sabeans resemble the views of modern Yezidis. So Yezîd bn Unaisa believed in God and the Resurrection Day, he probably respected angels and the stars, yet he was neither polytheistic nor a true follower of Mohammad.

At the same time, he lined himself up with those People of the Book who said that Mohammad was a prophet, yet did not follow him (in this respect, he was similar to Western non-Muslims who acknowledge Mohammad as the prophet of the Arabs).

Although most orthodox histories of the Yezidis leave it out, it seems clear at this point that Yezîd bn Unaisa was the founder of the Yezidi religion in its modern form and that the Yezidis got their name from Yezîd bn Unaisa. This much may have been lost to time, for the Yezidis themselves say that Yezidi comes from the Kurdish word Yezdan or Êzid meaning God.

After naming their movement after Yezîd bn Unaisa, the Yezidis learned of Šeiḫ ‘Adî’s reputation, and become his followers, along with many Muslims, Christians and Iranians.

Like their founder, the Yezidis believe in God and the Resurrection, expect a prophet from Iran, revere angels and stars, regard every sin as idolatry, respect Mohammad as a prophet yet do not follow him and at the same time pay no attention to Ali (recall that the early Kharijites assassinated Ali). Being opposed to both Mohammad and Ali, bn Unaisa is logically despised by both the Sunni and the Shia.

The fact that the Yezidis renounced the prophet of the Arabs (Mohammad) while expecting a new one from Iran logically appealed to a lot of Persians at the time. Hence, many former Zoroastrians, or fire-worshipers, from Iran joined the new religion, surely injecting their strains into this most syncretistic of religions.

There is good evidence that many Yezidis are former Christians. The Yezidis around Mosul go by the surname of Daseni, of Dawasen in the plural. It so happens that there was a Nestorian diocese in Mosul called Daseni, or Dasaniyat. It disappeared around the time of Šeiḫ ’Adî. The implication is that so many of its members became Yezidis that the Diocese folded.

Furthermore, many names of Yezidi villages are actually names in the Syriac (Christian) language, more evidence that many Yezidis are former Christians.

Adding even more weight to this theory, the Yezidis retain two Christian customs – the baptism and the Eucharist.

The Yezidis must baptize their children at the earliest possible age and the priest puts his hand on the child’s head as her performs the rite. Both customs mirror the Christian baptism precisely.

When a Yezidi couple marries, they go to a local Nestorian Church to partake of the Eucharist. The cup of wine they drink is called the cup of Isa (Jesus). The Yezidi have great respect for Christian saints and houses of worship, and kiss the doors and walls of churches when they enter them.

When a Yezidi woman goes to the home of her bridegroom on wedding day, she is supposed to visit every every religious temple along the way, even the churches. On the other hand, Yezidis never enter a mosque. Sadly, the Yezidi reverence for Christianity is not returned by the Eastern Christians, who despise the Yezidis as devil-worshipers.

They revere both Jesus and Mohammad as religious teachers, not as prophets. They have also survived via a hefty dose of taqqiya, or dissimulation, in this case pretending outwardly to be some species of Shia Muslims.

This is common for minority faiths around the region, including the Alawi and Druze, who have both proclaimed at the top of their lungs that they are Muslims and have hidden to the aspects of their religion which would cause the Muslims to disown them at best or kill them at worst. The primary Islamic influence on the Yezidis is actually Sufism, not Shiism per se.

There are traces of other religions – Hinduism may possibly be seen in the five Yezidi castes, from top to bottom – Pir, Shaikh, Kawal, Murabby, and Mureed (followers). Mureeds are about on a par with Dalits or Untouchables in Hinduism. Marriage across castes is strictly forbidden, as it has been disapproved in India.

On the other hand, pre-Islamic Iran also had a caste system, and the base of the Yezidi religion seems to be derived from Persian Zoroastrianism. The Yezidi, like the Druze and the Zoroastrians, do not accept converts, and like the Druze, think that they will be reincarnated as their own kind (Druze think they will be reincarnated as Druze; Yezidis think they will be reincarnated as Yezidis).

The Yezidis can be considered fire-worshipers in a sense; they obviously got this from the Zoroastrians. The Yezidis say, “Without fire, there would be no life.” This is true even in our modern era, if we substitute “electrical power” for fire, our lives would surely diminish. Even today, when Kurdish Muslims swear on an oath, they say, “I swear by this fire…”

Many say there is a resemblance between Malak Taus and the Assyrian God Tammuz, though whether the name Malak Taus is actually derived from Tammuz is much more problematic. Tammuz was married to the Assyrian moon goddess, Ishtar. But this connection is not born out by serious inquiry.

Ishtar the Goddess of the Moon, here represented as a bird goddess. Worship of birds is one of the oldest forms of pagan idolatry known to man. What is it about birds that made them worthy of worship by the ancients? The miracle of flight?

Where do the Yezidis come from? The Yezidis themselves say that they came from the area around Basra and the lower Euphrates, then migrated to Syria and then to Sinjar, Mosul and Kurdistan.

In addition to worshiping a bird-god, there are other traces of the pre-Islamic pagan religions of the Arabs in Yezidism.

They hold the number 7 sacred, a concept that traces back to the ancient Mesopotamians. The Yezidis have seven sanjaks, and each one has seven burners of the flame, their God created seven angels and the sculpture carved on the temple of Šeiḫ ’Adî has seven branches.

The Sabeans, another ancient religion of Mesopotamia who are now called star-worshipers by their detractors, also worshiped seven angels who guided the courses of seven planets – it is from this formulation that our seven days of the week are derived. In the ancient religion of Assyria, Ishtar descended through seven gates to the land of no return. The ancient Hebrews likewise utilized the number seven in their religion.

An ancient seven-armed candelabra, a symbol nowadays used in the Jewish religion, with demonic sea monsters drawn on the base.

The Yezidis worship the sun and moon at their rising and setting, following the ancient Ḥarranians, a people who lived long ago somewhere in northern Iraq. Sun-worship and moon-worship are some of the oldest religious practices of Man. The ancient pagans of Canaan worshiped the Sun.

At the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the religion practiced there had little in common with Talmudic Judaism of today. For instance, the horses of the Sun were worshiped at that temple (see II Kings 25: 5, 11). The ancient Judeans, who the modern-day Jews claim spiritual connection with, actually worshiped the “host of heaven” – the Sun, the Moon and the Planets. So much for “the original monotheists, eh?

In Babylonia, there were two temples to the Sun-God Shamas.

Another pre-Islamic Arab pagan belief is the belief in sacred wells and sanctuaries that contain them. The springs contain water that has curative powers. The holy water found at the Zamzam Well in Mecca is an example; even to this day, Muslims bottle the water and carry it off for this purpose. Often sacred clothes are used to make these pilgrimages, because ordinary clothes are thought to contaminate the holy site.

In pre-Islamic days, when the pagans circled the rock at the Kaaba, they were completely naked. In Islam, men and women are supposed to remove their clothing and wear a special garb as they circulate around the rock. In Mandeanism, both men and women go to the Mishkana, or tabernacle, take off their clothes, and bathe in the circular pool. Emerging, they put on the rasta, a ceremonial white garment.

At the temple of Šeiḫ ‘Adî, there is a sacred pool. The Yezidis throw coins, jewelry and other things into this pool as offerings. They think that Šeiḫ ‘Adî takes these things from time to time. And they must remove their clothes, bathe and wear a special garment when they visit the holy valley where this temple resides.

The ancient Arabs also worshiped trees. There were sacred trees at Nejran, Hadaibiya and Mecca. The pagans hung women’s ornaments, fine clothes, ostrich eggs, weapons and other items.

Similarly, the Yezidis also worship trees. They have their favorite trees, and sick people go to these trees and hang pieces of cloth on them, hoping to get well, and believe that whoever takes one of these down will get sick with whatever disease the person who hung the cloth had.

An inscription of a sacred tree from Ancient Babylonian civilization. Trees were worshiped not just in ancient Arabia; they were also worshiped in Mesopotamia.The Christian Trinity combined with the pagan Tree of Life, in an interesting ancient Chaldean inscription that combines pagan and Christian influences. The Tree of Life was also utilized in Kabbalism, Jewish mysticism from the Middle Ages. Nowadays the symbol is used by practitioners of both White and Black Magic. Radical Islam is committing genocide once again on the Christians of Iraq, including the Chaldeans.Yet another Tree of Life, this time from ancient Assyria, an ancient civilization in Mesopotamia. The concept of a tree of life is a pagan concept of ancient pedigree.

The ancient Meccans used to worship stones. At one point the population became so large that they had to move out of the valley where the Kaaba resided, so when they formed their new settlements, they took rocks from the holy place and piled them outside their settlements and made a sort of shrine out of these things, parading around the rock pile as they moved around the Kaaba.

In Palestine, there were sacred wells at Beersheba and Kadesh, a sacred tree at Shekem and a sacred rock at Bethel. As in animism, it was believed that divine powers or spirits inhabited these rocks, trees and springs. This tradition survives to this day in the folk religion of the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.

The Yezidis also have certain stones that they worship. They kiss these stones in reverence.

When the Yezidis reach the goal of their pilgrimage or hajj, they become very excited and start shouting. After fasting all day, they have a big celebration in the evenings, with singing and dancing and gorging on fine dishes.

This hajj, where they worship a spring under Šeiḫ ‘Adî’s tomb called Zamzam and then climb a mountain and shoot off guns, is obviously taken from the Muslim hajj. Mecca has a Zamzam Spring, and pilgrims climb Mount ‘Arafat on hajj.

The shouting, feasting, singing, dancing and general excitement is typical of a pagan festival. The non-Yezidi neighbors of the Yezidis claim that Yezidis engage in immoral behavior on this hajj. No one knows if this is true or not, but if they do, it may be similar to the festivals of the Kadeshes discussed in the Old Testament, where people engaged in licentious behavior in their temples.

Although the Yezidis have a strict moral code, observers say that they allow adultery if both parties are willing. That’s pretty open-minded for that part of the world.

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