Breaking through the Medieval Fortress of Certainty

At one one time in my life, probably my middle grade school years, I became enamored with knights, castles and medieval Europe. Two of my grandsons already passed through this stage . A number of years back, I uncovered a tin castle set of mine while cleaning out my mother’s house complete with horses, swords, knights and a ‘working’ cannon which sat oddly on one of the castle walls. The original box, too, now some 60 years old.  Ebay?

Of course there were the tales of the Knights of the Round Table and Prince Valiant which piqued my interest.  Films too. Those books and films  portrayed a period of adventure and glory. A time I’d like to have returned, teleported back. The squalor and plight of the peasantry was not detailed in those books and films and neither was the arrogance and incontestable authority of the church. The church fathers knew. The peasants did not, but nonetheless believed. Because the Holy Mother Church said so.

Imagine if general knowledge had progressed at a similar pace as the religious certainty of the Middle Ages. Where would civilization be today? Would doctors still be blood-letting? Would horse-drawn carts be carrying our goods? Men like Michaelangelo, da Vinci, Newton and Luther would be unknown. Bell would merely be the sound from a steeple rather than associated with vocal communication. Ford would mean a place in the river for your cattle to cross. Gates would be where your sheep pass through the fence. Einstein would be the singular stone you pick up to throw at the witch.

I’ve read countless books on religious enlightenment in the past few years which have enlightened my view of that subject. Were I born earlier, I surely would have been burned at the stake for possessing such material.  Yet even now, should our current bishop get hold of my Kindle, my excommunication document would already be in my possession. Funny stuff here in the 21st century; deadly stuff in the 13th. The literature is ‘out there’ and not at all hidden.  One does not need to read or discuss it behind locked doors, shades pulled down. Yet, even among my liberal Catholic friends, there are hushed tones, incomplete sentences lest ‘they’ overhear the subject matter. Pathetic. Pitiful, actually. More than that- wanton ignorance!

What are ‘they’ afraid of? Change? Truth? Do they fear that what they believed in all of their lives is merely fable, myth and legend? They already survived Santa and are none-the-worst for that childhood ruse. Why not the Bible? The Jesus story? Or is that too much to expose? Too much to endure? Too much to give up?

Ironically, on Thursday of this week, a Medieval scene will play out- a scene unchanged from the 13th century to the 21st. A pope will be selected. Vestments from 800 years ago; rules from that time.  The announcement will occur not over the Internet, TV, radio or telegraph. No, none of these were around in the 13th century. It will be announced as it always has been: by the smoke from the chimney of the incinerator.


9 thoughts on “Breaking through the Medieval Fortress of Certainty

  1. Unless you need the money… ODDS NO!!!! NO EBAY… !!! Mudrake, you have a genuine heirloom to share with your descendants… male and female… I would SO HAVE LOVED to have played with such a grand set, as a kid!!!

    Perhaps even jot down some of your ‘tales’ of ‘play’ … to accompany the set… (you could accidentally write a profitable children’s book, in the process)… because it is priceless on many levels… one it was yours and two… because they just don’t make things the way they used to and that is a fact… so even though your grandsons may have outgrown the ‘play phase’ … there will be others in your line… as greats and great-greats and so on… who will share your love and imagination for at least one phase of their childhoods… :)

    1. Thanks, Colleen. My grandson, now fourteen, and I played together-he with his new, plastic fortress and I with the treasure of my youth. We had fun in that bonding experience. He even bought me a horse and rider for my birthday present. Gulp!

      Re your suggestion about jotting down tales of my play, I am in the process (for the past 3 years) of writing the story of my childhood. Why? Because both of my grandfathers were dead before I was born and I know nothing about them. My story is prefaced with the statement: you may or may not choose to read the story of my youth, but if so, here goes!

  2. Oops! The Pope has been chosen on Wednesday, not Thursday….It will be interesting to see if it is an Italian, an European, or an outsider to the Continent…..Read where if it was a quick selection, it meant one of the
    favorites was selected, likely an Italian from Milan.

      1. Many years ago when I heard that free speech was more foreign to Russians than the Chinese, I was confused. Then I found out that not many people in Russia were still alive to remember times prior to the 1917 revolution, unlike China which had their revolution in 1949.

        I think Africa and South America are the fastest growing areas of Catholicism because most of them have always lived under a dictator and gotten news only from the government. And I doubt the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and these current governments has changed much from the Church’s relationship with the Italian government in the 30’s.

        Just watched a History Channel special about the Dark Ages. For some reason I never realized how much the Church-Government relationship was just part of the control of the masses. And I was just amazed to learn how much they feared science.

  3. Yep, a Jesuit. Now try and figure this one out. And, a chemistry teacher.

    A Jesuit scientist. I had a Jesuit biology teacher in the University, and he
    was always talking about the fact of evolution.

      1. Yep, my friend…but we went to old time Jesuit Universities. That was when they were leading the new “liberation policy”. Then Pope John
        VI cut their heads off, so to speak, by ending the quasi autonomous
        existence the Order had since Ignasius Loyola and brough the Order
        under the total control of the Papacy. Unfortunately, the new Pope,
        although a Jesuit is off the new John VI thinking, and yes, even elevated
        to a cardinal by Pope John.

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