left biblioblography: … THAT TEARS SHALL DROWN THE WIND

Monday, October 30, 2006


Halloween is here, and I feel the need to resurrect this old wound, this one of many blemishes on the face of that religion that claims near-perfection, an elevation of those worshippers above the rest of us.

It proves that no one is above anyone else.

Let’s examine this:

“There are several references to witchcraft in the Christian Bible, and the strong condemnations of such practices which we read there do not seem to be based so much upon the supposition of fraud as upon the "abomination" of the magic in itself. (See Deuteronomy 18:11-12; Exodus 22:18, "wizards thou shalt not suffer to live" - A.V. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live".) The whole narrative of Saul's visit to the witch of En Dor (I Samuel 28) implies the reality of the witch's evocation of the shade of Samuel; and from Leviticus 20:27: "A man or woman in whom there is a pythonical or divining spirit, dying let them die: they shall stone them: Their blood be upon them", we should naturally infer that the divining spirit was not a mere imposter.
The prohibitions of sorcery in the New Testament leave the same impression - (Galatians 5:20, compared with Revelation 21:8; 22:15; and Acts 8:9; 13:6). Supposing that the belief in witchcraft were an idle superstition, it would be strange that the suggestion should nowhere be made that the evil of these practices only lay in the pretending to the possession of powers, which did not really exist. There is some debate, however, whether the word used in Galatians and Revelation, pharmakeia, is properly translated as "sorcery", as the word was commonly used to describe malicious use of drugs such as poisons, contraceptives, and abortifacients. This ambiguity in Galatians has occasionally been incorrectly applied to the wording of Leviticus 20:27, and Exodus 22:18. (Suffer not a witch to live.”

Here are all the variations thereof:

American Standard Version "Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live."
The Answer: Put to death any woman who does evil magic.
Amplified Bible: You shall not allow a woman to live who practices sorcery.
Good News Version: Put to death any woman who practices magic.
James Moffatt Translation: You shall not allow any sorceress to live.
Jerusalem Bible: You shall not allow a sorceress to live.
King James Version: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Living Bible: A sorceress shall be put to death.
Modern Language Bible: Allow no sorceress to live.
New American Bible: You shall not let a sorceress live.
New American Standard Bible: You shall not let a sorceress live.
New Century Version: Put to death any woman who does evil magic.
New International Version: Do not allow a sorceress to live.
New Living Translation: A sorceress must not be allowed to live.
New Revised Standard Version: You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live.
New World Translation: You must not preserve a sorceress alive.
The Promise: Contemporary English Version: Death is the punishment for witchcraft.
Revised Standard Version: You shall not permit a sorceress to live.
Revised English Bible: You must not allow a witch to live.

I refer of course, to the savagery of both the Spanish Inquisition and the Medieval Inquisition, both of which were horrors that beggar the imagination, and make a strong man’s stomach rebel.

No Monty Python references, please: it’s been done to death (pun intended).

First, let’s take a look at the Spanish Inquisition:
“The Spanish Inquisition was motivated in part by the multi-religious nature of Spanish society following the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors. Moors following their invasion of the peninsula in 711 until they were expelled by means of a long campaign of reconquest dominated much of the Iberian Peninsula. However, the reconquest did not result in the expulsion of Muslims from Spain, but instead yielded a multi-religious society made up of Catholics, Jews and Muslims. Granada remained under Moorish control until 1492, and large cities, especially Seville, Valladolid, the capital of Castile, and Barcelona, the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon, had large Jewish populations centered in juderias.”
“Nevertheless, in some parts of Spain towards the end of the fourteenth century there was a wave of anti-Semitism, encouraged by the preaching of Ferrant Martinez, archdeacon of Ecija. The pogroms of June 1391 were especially bloody: in Seville, hundreds of Jews were killed, and the synagogue was completely destroyed. The number of victims was equally high in other cities, such as Cordoba, Valencia and Barcelona.[1]
“One of the consequences of these disturbances was the massive conversion of Jews. Before this date, conversions were rare, more motivated by social than religious reasons. But from the fifteenth century a new social group appeared: conversos, also called new Christians, who were distrusted by Jews and Christians alike. By converting, Jews could not only escape eventual persecution, but also obtain entry into many offices and posts that were being prohibited to Jews through new, more severe regulations.”

So it began with the persecution of the Jews. Then it extended to Muslims, and later, targeted Protestants.

(Snip)”The historian Hernando del Pulgar, contemporary of Ferdinand and Isabella, estimated that the Inquisition had burned at the stake 2,000 people and reconciled another 15,000 by 1490 (just one decade after the inquisition began).[37]
The first quantitative estimates of the number processed and executed by the Spanish Inquisition were offered by Juan Antonio Llorente, who was the general secretary of the Inquisition from 1789 to 1801 and published, in 1822 in Paris his Historia critica de la Inquisición. According to Llorente, over the course of its history, the Inquisition processed a total of 341,021 people, of whom at least 10% (31,912) were executed. He wrote, "To calculate the number of victims of the Inquisition is the same as demonstrating, in practice, one of the most powerful and effective causes of the depopulation of Spain."[38] The principal modern historian of the Inquisition, Henry Charles Lea, author of History of the Inquisition of Spain, considered that these totals, not based on rigorous statistics, were very exaggerated.”
(End Snip)

What other ‘offenses’ fell under the broad umbrella under the auto-da-fe gone apeshit?
”Included under the rubric of heretical propositions were verbal offenses, from outright blasphemy to questionable statements regarding religious beliefs, from issues of sexual morality, to behavior of the clergy. Many were brought to trial for affirming that simple fornication (sex without the explicit aim of procreation) was not a sin or for putting in doubt different aspects of Christian faith such as Transubstantiation or the virginity of Mary. Also, members of the clergy itself were on occasion accused of heretical propositions. These offenses were infrequently paired with severe penalties.
The Inquisition also pursued offenses against morals, at times in open conflict with the jurisdictions of civil tribunals. In particular, there were numerous trials for bigamy, a relatively frequent offense in a society that only permitted divorce under the most extreme circumstances. In the case of men, the penalty was five years in the galley (tantamount to a death sentence). Women too were accused of bigamy. Also, many cases of solicitation during confession were adjudicated, indicating a strict vigilance over the clergy.
Inquisitorial repression of the sexual offenses of homosexuality and bestiality, considered, according to Canon Law, crimes against nature, merits separate attention. Homosexuality, known at the time as sodomy, was punished by death by civil authorities. It fell under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition only in the territories of Aragon, when, in 1524, Clement VII, in a papal brief, granted jurisdiction over sodomy to the Inquisition of Aragon, whether or not it was related to heresy. In Castile, cases of sodomy were not adjudicated, unless related to heresy. The tribunal of Zaragoza distinguished itself for its severity in judging these offenses: between 1571 and 1579 more than 100 men accused of sodomy were processed and at least 36 were executed; in total, between 1570 and 1630 there were 534 trials and 102 executed.[15]

In fairness, most of what we’ve been led to believe about this arm of the Inquisition apparently stems from the Black Legend, as follows:

“The Black Legend (in Spanish, La leyenda negra) is the disparaging depiction of Spain and Spaniards as bloodthirsty and cruel, intolerant, greedy and fanatical. The Black Legend is evident in works by early Protestant historians describing the period of dominant Spanish imperialism, many also see influences of the black legend, the Inquisition myth, in the villains, and storylines of modern fiction and film. The term was coined by Julián Juderías in his 1914 book La leyenda negra y la verdad histórica (The Black Legend and Historical Truth).
The nature of Spain and its international efforts has also been a cause of contention amongst Spaniards themselves, from Gongora's Soledades until the Generation of '98. Traditionally, the Black Legend has been used by the left and the nationalists of non-Castilian regions as a political weapon against the central government or Spanish nationalism, which the conservative parties have countered with the White Legend. To avoid causing offense the Seville Expo '92 (during a PSOE Government) celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America, as the beginning of the Age of Discovery, and not of colonization or conquest.”

This is not intended to trivialize the atrocities, but to point out the fact that embellishment is indeed part and parcel of history, past and present.

There were, in fact, four arms of this vast cabal: the Medieval or Episcopal Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition, the Portuguese Inquisition and the Roman Inquisition. Each of these had their ‘pecadilloes’, but for the most part, it was the Christian iron fist in the velvet glove, designed to squash mercilessly any viewpoint that varied (sometimes even in the slightest) from the commonly held papal view.

And there are dissenting views on the actual events:

“Because the inquisitorial process was not based on tolerant principles and doctrines such as freedom of thought and freedom of religion that became prominent in Western thinking during the eighteenth century, modern society has an inherent difficulty in understanding the inquisitorial institutions. From the Middle Ages well into the seventeenth century in Christian Europe, it was accepted that the worst offence one could commit was that which threatened the unity and security of the Catholic Church. “The Inquisition can only be understood within the framework of the centuries of its existence, when religious uniformity and orthodoxy and obedience to authority were enforced by almost all political and religious institutions, and were considered essential for the very survival of society" (Hitchcock 1996).

‘Regardless of the century, inquisitions were ecclesial investigations conducted either directly by the Catholic Church or by secular authorities with the support of the Church. These investigations were undertaken at varying times in varying regions under the authority of the local bishop and his designates or under the sponsorship of papal-appointed legates. The purpose of each inquisition was specific to the outstanding circumstances of the region in which it was held. Investigations usually involved a legal process, the goal of which was to obtain a confession and reconciliation with the Church from those who were accused of heresy or of participating in activities contrary to Church Canon law. The objectives of the inquisitions were to secure the repentance of the accused and to maintain the authority of the Church. Inquisitions were conducted with the collaboration of secular authorities. If an investigation resulted in a person being convicted of heresy and unwillingness to repent punishment was administered by the secular authorities.”

A special note here: by ‘secular’ the reference is tied to priests who had no ties to large religious groups.

Despite the fact that the history was leavened with histrionics, there are some inescapable facts that cannot be ignored. One, is that implements of torture were used with devilish cruelty, some of which were psychological as well as physical, such as the Heretic’s fork, or “Common instruments of torture were the strappado (for repeatedly hoisting the body by the wrists behind the back and dropping it), the rack (for stretching the limbs and body), and the thumbscrew (for crushing the thumbs).” Despite the fact that a confession had to be validated without torture the next day by authorities (who weren’t quite the avid sadists we see depicted in movies and literature), it is still staggering to the imagination, seeing as we do today that the reasons behind them were so much folderol.

The other?

3,000 deaths for the Spanish Inquisition alone. Contemporary numbers for the Albigensian Crusades are estimated from seven to twenty thousand. Lest we forget, the Goan Inquisition, whose cruelty ran from 1540 to 1812, targeting primarily Hindus, which decimated lives and took properties from anyone who even whispered a prayer or held a tiny idol, which may have run upwards of hundreds of thousands of lives ruined or lost unless forcibly converted?

The numbers, even with investigation, run into the millions.

Rivers of blood and avalanches of charred or cracked flesh – lives destroyed needlessly or ruined, all for a phantom fantasy that has no basis in any reality we know.

This horrid book, so easily misconstrued, so easily re-interpreted, that lends itself with wild ease to man’s more feral nature, that real-life Necronomicon, that has created monstrous menageries and museum pieces to make even the sturdy heart quail, must stop being a rai·son d'être: it deserves the ridicule we heap upon it. It is at the heart and core of all that is wrong with Occidental civilization. It teaches the believers that they are above all moral constraints except those written with a quill dipped in the blood of innocents.

Religion is death writ large across the ages.

“And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.” – Macbeth, Act I, Scene V

Till the next post, then.

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remy said...

Excellent post. And may I second the conclusion.

It is interesting to note, with reference to the recent opinions on homosexuality on NGB, how even the threat of death did not cause anyone to CHOOSE heterosexuality.

And now, in 2006, I can turn on the TV and find a panel discussion about the evils of the witchcraft in movies or in Harry Potter.

say no to christ said...


you brought up some interesting facts about witchcraft. Witchcraft was NEVER EVER about "magic", it was herbalism, plain and simple. Women were the healers and doctors and used their herbs to cure many many ills.
That gave women too much power in the eyes of the religious patriarchs.

Good post, thanks.

Krystalline Apostate said...

you brought up some interesting facts about witchcraft. Witchcraft was NEVER EVER about "magic", it was herbalism, plain and simple. Women were the healers and doctors and used their herbs to cure many many ills.
Note also, that the list of alternate translations of the verse in question, the referent is all in the feminine pronoun.

say no to christ said...


I noticed, thanks for pointing out those things most tend to overlook.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother. I was an Atheist for 24 years, and shared your views. Keep in mind: Not all who claim to be Christians are followers of Jesus Christ. Read: Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus is alive, and He is comming back. All people who do evil will get what they deserve. A Christian is not alloved to harm anyone. Amen.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Then I give you Matthew 7:19
"Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
Off your religion goes, into the fire then.

Anonymous said...

Dear sister Krystaline.

Yes, what Jesus says in Matthew 7:19 is true. People who hurt others do not bear good fruits. Many people have misused the name of Jesus Christ. In John 13:35 Jesus tells us who are His disciples. In Matthew 7: 21-23 He says who is not.

Krystalline Apostate said...

I'm male.
& religion's still a load of crap.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother.

I agree. Religion is a trap. But Jesus lives, and He loves even those who do not know Him. Because He created us, He loves us like a father loves his children. If you seek Jesus today with all your heart, I promiss, you will find Him. Amen.

Krystalline Apostate said...

I find this statement curious -
I was an Atheist for 24 years, and shared your views.
I'm unclear. You were a hardcore atheist? Or was it just a general malaise in re: religion?
& what changed that?
Do keep it brief.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother.

I was not only an Atheist. I was a public preacher of Atheism. What changed? Its difficult to explain in brief. But if I get your email-ID, I will tell you what took place. My email is ivarfjeld@yahoo.com My name is Ivar.

Krystalline Apostate said...

I was not only an Atheist. I was a public preacher of Atheism.
Waitaminnit: what? What exactly is a 'public preacher of Atheism'? & why do you spell it w/an uppercase 'A'? It's not a belief system, you know.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother.

If you say something like: - I don’t believe I exist, i guess you still exist? If you say that you don’t believe in anything, you still believe in the belief that there is no God. I was a preacher of a holistic belief of Atheism, I turned many people away from Jesus Christ. I was wrong. Jesus died on the cross for us. He is God the Son. He is alive. Amen.