Catharism was a dualist heresy that swept through Latin Christendom during the High Middle Ages; its growing popularity alarmed Church authorities. It was called by many names (the Catholic Encyclopedia lists twenty-two) but historians prefer to refer to them collectively as Cathars (“pure ones”, or “puritans”). They believed the physical world was the creation of the evil God of the Old Testament and the spiritual world was formed by the God of the New Testament. It was just the latest version of the recurrent dualist heresies like Gnosticism and Manichaeism, but also resembles elements in contemporary secular society in disturbing ways.
This heresy’s primary requirement was the repudiation of marriage and family. Since the evil physical body was only meant to entrap spirits, marriage and procreation were forbidden. Their spirit-liberating ritual known as consolamentum, similar to the Catholic Last Rites, would be denied to children and pregnant women. Their distain for the human body was so extreme that Cathars celebrated suicide with a ritual of its own known as endura, a form of assisted suicide. Their goal was the destruction of the human race thus enabling the liberation of the spiritual world. Continue reading “Today’s Version of the Cathar Heresy”→
In a speech presented at the World Youth Day in Poland, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, General-Secretary to the Italian Bishop’s Conference, recounted the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in a way that irritated Father Z. The bishop had concluded the story at the end of Genesis 18, the dialogue with Abraham, saying, “…The city [Sodom] is saved because some righteous ones are there, even though a few of them.” I would have guessed that the bishop may have accidently misstated himself, but he repeats again in the next line “the city was saved”. Genesis 19, which concludes the story with the destruction of Sodom, was omitted.
This should not come as a complete surprise. It was and is still commonly taught in the universities that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was a legend, along with the Tower of Babble, creation story, Noah’s Ark, etc. Since elements of many of these stories can be found in the mythological literature of other Ancient Near Eastern religions, it was assumed by many Biblical scholars that by the time they were written down, the Hebrews had simply adapted these fables to their unique monotheistic conception of God. Particularly for older theologians, like Bp. Galantino, interpreting these Biblical accounts literally would be naïve, thus leaving them open to creative interpretations or to be disregarded as anachronistic and irrelevant to today’s world.
With respect to Sodom, however, proof of its existence appeared in the 1980s. An archaeological site in present day Syria had uncovered a Middle Bronze Age city-state named Ebla. In it they found a library containing tablets that included geographical guides, and a list of cities that included Sodom.
In fact, archaeologists might have actually found Sodom in the Southern Jordan Valley, a Middle Bronze Age site known as Tall El-Hammam. One of the archaeologists working on the project, Steven Collins, concluded it was Sodom based on information from the book of Genesis:
“Theorizing, on the basis of the Sodom texts, that Sodom was the largest of the Kikkar [the Jordan ‘Disk’, or ‘well-watered plain’ in the Biblical text] cities east of the Jordan, I concluded that if one wanted to find Sodom, then one should look for the largest city on the eastern Kikkar that existed during the Middle Bronze Age, the time of Abraham and Lot. When we explored the area, the choice of Tall el-Hammam as the site of Sodom was virtually a no-brainer since it was at least five to ten times larger than all the other Bronze Age sites in the entire region, even beyond the Kikkar of the Jordan.”
He sees evidence of a sudden abandonment of the city and no subsequent re-population of the area for 700 years. He notes also that the site,
“…included a large monumental complex in the lower city/tall, remains of a mudbrick palatial structure in the upper city/tall (called the ‘red palace’ because of the color of the mudbricks due to a fiery conflagration).”
While evidence of destruction by fire is common to Near East archaeological sites, broken pottery shards have been found that were melted down by a heat level that would have to have been much higher than that of a normal fire, even a kiln.
Less likely the site of Sodom is an area on the west side of the Dead Sea traditionally called the Mountains of Sodom and the Cave of Sodom. It’s a desolate area primarily comprised of salt. How this area came to be identified with Sodom is not clear; there are no remains of a city in the area. However, since it is on the coast of the Dead Sea, there are many pillars of salt, many of which eerily take on a human-like form. One in particular is even commonly referred to as Lot’s wife.
Bishop Galantino naturally prefers to talk to the kids about God’s mercy (Genesis 18), but is it helpful to ignore His judgment (Genesis 19)? Doesn’t the former necessarily imply the latter? The sin of Sodom was that as a sovereign city-state it had legitimized sexual behaviors that were contrary to divine natural law. But isn’t that exactly what sovereign Western states are doing today by means of their courts and governmental authorities? At some point following this Year of Mercy could the West experience a Year of Judgment?
Eight centuries ago St. Hildegard experienced a prophetic vision of a period of time similar to our own. She called it the era of the Black Pig, the fourth of five symbolic animals representing successive historical periods of time that precede the Antichrist. The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Visions of Modern Society lays out a compelling case that these eras have been unfolding in the recent history of Europe and North America. According to Hildegard, they are brief eras with distinct temporal rulers.
In comparing the eras to recent history, three particular years within the twentieth-century make dividing it into four separate historical periods an easy task. 1914, 1945, and 1991 are natural dividing lines marking major social and geopolitical changes in the Western world. There is a general consensus among historians regarding the momentousness of these years and how they serve to divide up the century. Hence, it can be divided into four eras which we choose to begin with the year of the loss of the Papal States in 1870: (1) 1870-1914, (2) 1914-1945, (3) 1945-1991, and (4) 1991-present. All are geopolitically distinct and brief. Continue reading “St. Hildegard’s Vision of Today’s America”→
Future historians analyzing our recent history will notice that Western leaders of the 1990s and after (e.g. Clinton, Blair, Cameron, et al.) reflected a major shift away from their predecessors on moral questions. There was still a shared acknowledgement of the Judeo-Christian foundations of the West, but it obviously had become less of a guide for positions on moral issues. What social historians in particular might note is that these government administrators were the first generation of graduates that were educated in institutions saturated with the phenomenon known as political correctness. Students in the major universities from about 1970 on were being increasingly indoctrinated as to what were the acceptable opinions on race relations, sexuality, homosexuality, cultural values, etc. This was exposed by University of Chicago professor Allen Bloom in his widely-read 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind.
Compare the moral outlooks of two contemporaries, Barack Obama and David Cameron, with two other contemporaries, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Can you picture the latter two defending the government’s attempt to impose a legal right for transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their new sexual identity? One can imagine hearing Thatcher’s response to the notion — “preposterous!”. There is a precise reason behind why we are seeing the social engineers of today intensify the force of their efforts to impose their agenda on American society and why it will continue to increase in severity. Continue reading “Why Social Engineering is Intensifying in the U.S.”→