Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Forgotten Hiccups

I'm starting to get very, very sick about hearing these Hypocrite Evangelists and Trigger-Happy fundamentalist Muslims talking about 'in the name of God'. As George Carlin so cleverly put it, "more people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason", all for some "Invisible Guy in the Sky". Didn't the idiots consider looking towards a Beefpie? You'd think that would have occurred to them before they went along on their awful crusades, which still astound us of sensibility.

Anyway, here is a classic and my favourite example of a forgotten hiccup. It's heavily shortened and summarised, there's not enough room here for the entire story. This unfortunate event started unfurling way back in 1212, in France. A shepherd boy, Stephen, had requested to see King Philip to deliver an urgent letter, incidentally from the hand of Christ Himself. Christ had evidently told the kid to go preach the Crusade (ha!) but the King thought better of it and told the little tosser to get lost. This was most probably due to the fact that there were numerous preachers running around at the time, preaching a crusade against the Muslims of the East or of Spain or against the heretics of Languedoc - he must have caught wind of it and gotten all inspired.

Regardless of being rejected by Phil, the boy - Stephen was 12, mind you - went on to preach at the abbey of Saint-Denis and announced that he was going to lead an army of kids to rescue Christendom. (At this point, you'd start cracking up. But no. What you do is, bury your face in your hands.) Older people were actually impressed by this psycho's eloquence and endorsed his drive to recruit a Child Army.
A month later, all the recruits - several thousand of them, not one of them over the age of 21 - consisting of both peasants and those of noble birth, accompanied by a few young priests and older pilgrims, started out on foot to Marseilles (Stephen was given a cart and an umbrella. Some of his followers died from sunstroke). They got to the harbour, and were disappointed to see that the sea had not divided before them like it had for Moses, as the kid had prophesised. They nearly kicked his ass, but two merchants offered to hire out vessels - seven of them, free - to take them across the seas. No news was heard from them until 18 years later.

Meanwhile, more kids from the Rhineland heard about Stephen, and lo and behold, ze Germans were not to be left out of this great divine deal. Everyone wanted in on the action, only with a German touch, insisting to non-believers that children could do way better than adults at warfare. This just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? Also, Germans were on an average slightly older than the Frenchies and they were more chicks with them. There was also a larger number of boys of the nobility, and a number of "disreputable vagabonds" and hookers. They planned to recapture the Holy Land through conversion, though, unlike the bloodthirsty French.

The Germans, however, were obstructed. Disillusioned by the sea not parting for them (I know, I know, just keep reading, it gets worse) some of them accepted the Genoan authorities' offers to become permanent residents. Many families there today claim to be the end product of this alien immigration. Then, at Pisa, two ships agreed to take several kids on. No one ever heard of them again. Nicholas, who led the Germans, trudged on to Rome, where he was greeted my Pope Innocent. The Pope was stoked at their determination, but quite ruffled about the sheer stupidity, and persuaded them to return home.

Got to pause to laugh here.
Okay, done.

When they returned, several outraged parents, whose kids had perished, demanded the arrest of Nicholas' father, who egged him on. So he was hanged. Some of the kids that had actually crawled all the way back home and survived the journey were attacked, beaten, and murdered for having failed in their faith, as the chroniclers report it.

Much, much later in 1230, one of the Priests who had survived the French party returned to Marseilles and told their story. This is the juicy bit. Two of the ships were wrecked on the island of San Pietro, off the south-west corner of Sardinia, and all the passengers were drowned. The five ships that survived the storm found themselves soon afterwards surrounded by a Saracen squadron from Africa; and the passengers, to their utter horror and dismay, learned that they had been brought there by arrangement, to be sold into captivity. Others, the young priest among them, were shipped on to Egypt, where Frankish slaves fetched a better price. When they arrived at Alexandria the greater part of the consignment was bought by the governor, to work on his estates. According to the priest there were still about seven hundred of them living. A small company was taken to the slave-markets of Baghdad; and there eighteen of them were martyred for refusing to accept Islam.

More fortunate were the young priests and the few others that were literate. The governor of Egypt, al-Adil's son al-Kamil, was interested in Western languages and letters. He bought them and kept them with him as interpreters, teachers and secretaries, and made no attempt to convert them to his faith. They stayed on in Cairo in a comfortable captivity; and eventually this one priest was released and allowed to return to France. He told the questioning parents of his comrades all that he knew, then disappeared into obscurity. A later story identified the two wicked merchants of Marseilles with two merchants who were hanged a few years afterwards for attempting to kidnap the Emperor Frederick on behalf of the Saracens, thus making them in the end pay the penalty for their crimes.

But what about the greater crimes involved? Why did the government/authorities let these kids go? Did they sincerely believe that they were actually going to reach the Holy Land and fight? Absolute insanity. I can't believe that people have forgotten all about this. And religion and government still do things like this. Bush keeps saying he listens to God: are we to understand, then, that God wants to nuke Iraq and Iran? God wants democracy by killing hundreds and grabbing some oil at the same time, and Allah calls for the destruction of the west.

Why isn't anyone listening to Beefpies?


Anonymous Electra said...

right you are. everyone's a great big hypocrite. atleast everyone in any position of authority.

the so-called staunch christians are the ones voting bush in and trying to get the da vinci code banned : if their faith in what they know about chirst is SO unshakable what the hell do they care what dan brown says? and what the hell do they care even if Christ was actually married or sexually active? does it take anything away from who he was and what he did?

these so called staunch catholics and muslims are the ones hating on homosexuals and coloured people, like the very same 'god' they so reverently fall at the feet of didn't create those people who turned out to be gay or were born black.

the so called middle eastern terrorists are fighting the 'holy' war. wtf is holy about war?

sittingnut (sri lankan blogger) says we should be proud of the sri lankan army as sri lankans. bloody hell. over my dead body.

1:38 am  
Blogger ASH Smyth said...

Hm. It could be suggested that the SL army are really only doing their jobs, protecting you comfortable upper-middle-class folks from the depredation of nastier types. Any thoughts?

Meanwhile, yes, it is certainly true that an opinion which will not stand up to some debate is not an opinion worth hanging on to.

Nice story, Prophet. Chalk one up for the Pope, there, sending ze little Cherman idiots home.

P.S. Don't forget Blair. He laughs snidely when Jeremy Paxman asks him if he and Dubbya pray together... and then he tells us that we all answer to God and that the government of this nation is really in the hands (?) of an invisible being. Well. That's alright then. Just so long as we know.

I'd rather be in the hands of Michael Jackson.

3:01 am  
Anonymous Electra said...

ash smyth : certainly, of course they are only doing their job. i do not resent them, nor do i even deny their necassity in troubled times, but i am not proud of them. i just made an extensive post about this on my blog... so i suggest you have a look.

12:26 pm  
Blogger Prophet said...

War is definitely wrong, the oxymoron of 'Holy War' even more so.

Of course, an army simply does its job, and people enlist in the army for a variety of reasons - pay, food, nationalism (ugh), family traditions, unemployment. You should direct your resentment to those in control. You don't need to be proud as such; but do bear in mind that you are often behind these people with guns - would you rather be in front of them? Especially when they're standing in the way of MORE people with guns? It's something to think about, especially when we start implementing the next stage of Spork.

But it depends which army you're talking about. Aside from the whole debate of having armies in the first place, I'm sure each army from every nation has its share of a history of atrocities.

2:55 pm  
Blogger ASH Smyth said...

I suspect that the Swiss army may be the only army with no 'atrocities' in its history. But then people would accuse them of being Nazi collaborators instead, just like the Vatican. You can't win. Certainly you can't win if the wide world starts labelling every death as an 'atrocity'...

Electra, you're right. You needn't be proud of them, at least not in the layman's sense. All I suggest is that we are slower to attack the armies that defend us (and obviously I DO mean defend: Iraq doesn't count, but maybe SL does). Perhaps it does not matter what their individual motivations are.

5:02 pm  
Blogger ras said...

It's all so dammed selfish in the end though isn't it? I mean does anyone (those in power) have the interest of the people? At least the Buddha was honest and said that he couldn't tell anyone how to become enlightened.

Mr. Prophet, your work is exceptional and I look forward to receiving the new commandments.

Could you legalize marijuana in there somewhere, or make it a sacrament or something?



3:24 am  
Blogger Prophet said...

It's interesting when you consider the different viewpoints - i.e.: the people in the war strategy room, planning out the attacks, safely away from the battle front, and the unofortunate fellows out there with their friends' faces being blown off.

Of course, most of the people in power do see everything as statistics and numbers (Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense for most of the Vietnam War, was famous, or infamous, for this). Some of them also crumble due to the fact that they waste hundreds of lives by making a strategic mistake (again, McNamara). Then you think about the soldiers, who go through absolute hell on the battlefield. Their minds transcend all ethical boundaries when they see guts and blood being sprayed all over them. Nationalism and patriotism do seem to fly out of your mind's window when combat is actually met. And then their minds are scarred, and they commit atrocities, sometimes on the battlefield, sometimes at home.

And it's all for selfish reasons, as Ras has pointed out. Can you blame the soldiers? Who are you supposed to blame? The government? But aren't they executing the will of the people? It's the same in Iraq, a lot of people supported the war initially. But then when it all started going to hell, they protested - why? Money, that's why. Taxes. Oh, dear. No one ever remembers the lessons learned in Vietnam. It's quite the same thing, really.

1:11 pm  

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