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Quote of the week from In Search of the Loving God:
The Holy Inquisition was a special court with power to judge intentions as well as actions. It consisted of one very powerful official called an inquisitor, who was prosecutor, judge and jury all in one, and a number of other officials including delegates, who handled preliminary investigations and formalities, familiars, who were guards, prison visitors and secret agents, and notaries, who carefully collected evidence, and filed it for future use. Mere suspicion was enough to be summoned to appear before the Inquisition, so those being tried were classified as lightly suspect, vehemently suspect, or violently suspect. The web was carefully woven to trap suspects, and it was often simpler for people to confess than to try to defend themselves. Typically, an inquisitor would suddenly arrive in a town and deliver a sermon to the people calling for reports of anyone who might be suspected of heresy, and for all who felt heresy within themselves to come forward and confess within a period of grace. When this “general inquisition” was over, the “special inquisition” began with summonses to suspected heretics, who were then imprisoned until trial.
The proceedings of the trial were not public, usually only the general nature of the charges was revealed, and evidence from two witnesses, even if they were of the most questionable character, was enough to bring a conviction. Suspects could not obtain defense lawyers, as lawyers quickly discovered that defending a suspected heretic could result in them being summoned for heresy themselves. Trials often continued for years, while the suspects languished in prison. Torture was often used to secure repentance, and though it could not be repeated, it could be continued. Torture of children and old people had to be relatively light, but only pregnant women were exempt, and then only until after the delivery. There were three levels, or degrees, of torture. In the first degree a lot of people got through without confessing. In the second degree nearly everyone confessed, as the torture was monstrous. In the third degree of torture, if they didn’t die in the process, everyone ended up confessing. This is where the expression of giving someone the “third degree” comes from. The penance required following confession was light for some heretics, but for others, the “unreconciled,” who were classified as insubordinate, impenitent or relapsed, the fate was far worse. The first two categories could still save themselves from the flames by confessing, and secure a lesser punishment, but for the “relapsed,” along with those found to be witches, there was only one possible punishment: being burned at the stake. The Inquisition handed offenders over to the secular authorities for burning, as canon law prevented the church from shedding blood.
Three main categories of people were targeted by the Inquisition during its centuries-long reign of terror. The original targets were religious heretics. These included groups such as the Cathars and Waldensians.
. . .
The second category of people persecuted by the Inquisition were scientists. The burning of Bruno at the stake, and the famous trial of Galileo, are amongst the most remembered acts of the Inquisition. The scientific community has, quite rightly, never allowed the church to forget its persecution of scientists and its obstruction of scientific progress. The church stuck obstinately to the world view of Aristotle which it had adopted through Thomas Aquinas. In its pride it thought it should be able to dictate the nature of the truth about God’s universe. It never had the modesty and discernment to see that Aristotle’s cosmology, useful though it was, should have been seen merely as a starting point, which scientists could modify and add to in the process of discovering the way God’s universe actually works. The church alienated large numbers of educated people through its obstruction of science, and is still, to some extent, doing so today.
So successful has been the scientific community’s highlighting of the atrocities it suffered at the hands of the Inquisition, that it is easy to form the impression that this was the main evil of this barbaric institution. This is far from being the truth, though. The third, and by far the largest, group of people to suffer under the Inquisition were women. Only now, in the late twentieth century, are historians coming to realize the extent of the holocaust perpetrated by the church through the Inquisition and Protestant courts. Some have estimated that as many as nine million people were tortured and executed for witchcraft, over three centuries, and that eighty-five percent of them were women. Others claim the figure should be much lower, on the basis that only about 200,000 people in western Europe between 1450 and 1700 were killed as a result of formal investigations that we know about. Considering, however, that only a minority of the people persecuted as witches were formally tried, accurate records were often not kept, and that over the centuries many, if not most, of the records of trials and executions are likely to have been lost, it is reasonable to suppose that the 200,000 documented cases are just the tip of the iceberg, and that the real figure must run into the millions. Both the Inquisition and the Protestant churches were guilty of this slaughter — in fact the Protestant church in Germany was the most vehement burner of witches, and persisted for the longest in doing so. Both Luther and Calvin fully supported the burning of witches, and just about everywhere their Protestant theology spread, this hideous practice went with it. Any woman who claimed a degree of independence or influence, or who was at all unusual or mysterious, was in danger of being declared a witch, and the punishment for being a witch was to be burned to death at the stake.
— From In Search of the Loving God, Chapter 9, "Power Games of the Western Church" pp. 136-138, 140-142.
Past Quotes of the Week can be read at:
Past quotes of the week
Endorsements and Reviews:
In Search of the Loving God is a book written with a purpose - and that purpose is to bring an age old message of truth and love to our tired, confused and desperate world. Mark is out to conquer hearts and win love for God. His book mingles impressive scholarship with both poetic appeal and down to earth empirical experiences. The world is in great need of the healing that this book could bring it.
(Ian D. Baynes, B.V.Sc., M.A.P.S.)
In Search of the Loving God reads like a combination mystery, history, and Bible commentary all rolled into one. Read it for its enlightening view on Scripture and revealing stories of the church's history. May the Spirit use this book to reach many people with its hopeful
message for the future of Christianity.
(Joy Wells, Educator)
Mr Mason's skills as both researcher and writer are such that I was unable to put the book down once I started it. He makes what could be a very dry topic not only readable, but also highly relevant to someone who is attempting to move beyond surface spirituality to a level of deep understanding and growth.
His book is divided into two parts. The first gives a very comprehensive, and eye-opening, history of the Bible and Christianity as a religion. He shows incredibly clearly how and why the church strayed from the teachings of Jesus and what that means to the church today. The second section shows how the Bible and its teachings are relevant to seekers in today's world. He describes Bible passages that teach us about reincarnation, a simple lifestyle and free will, and he includes wonderful and affirming interpretations about what hell and the book of Revelation really means.
(Patricia Vallerand, from her review of In Search of the Loving God in the Observer Quarterly)
To read more reviews, and more of what readers are saying about his book, see the reviews and endorsements page at this site.
Author's description of In Search of the Loving God:
In Search of the Loving God proposes that the key to knowing and loving God is meditation, but that before we can love God, and effectively meditate, we need to overcome our fear of Him. The book challenges traditional Christian beliefs by taking a fresh look at the life of Jesus, and at how the church soon became corrupt and power-seeking and largely ignored Jesus' teachings, invented the concept of everlasting punishment in hell in order to control people through fear, and eventually terrorized European society with the Inquisition and the witch craze, in which millions of women were burned at the stake, often for no crime greater than being a midwife. It looks at the disturbing similarities between medieval Christianity and modern religious fundamentalism, which in America manifests as the Christian Coalition, and other organizations of the religious right. It shows how the "us and them" nature of our society is based on, and underpinned by, the medieval Christian belief that some people are valuable to God and are saved, while others are not and are eternally damned. The importance of the separation of church and state in protecting us against fundamentalism, and preserving our freedom to make our own moral choices is highlighted, as is the reality of our free will -- God's greatest gift to us.
The book has chapters on why there is no honest Biblical basis for believing in everlasting punishment in hell, Biblical evidence for believing in Reincarnation, a metaphysical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, how to meditate, the reality of miracles in our lives, and on how Christianity could be more accepting of other religions such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. It advocates a radical reform of Christianity, which would result in it becoming a religion of love and acceptance, rather than what it traditionally has been: a religion of guilt and fear. Abandoning the belief in eternal hell, and embracing reincarnation and meditation may sound particularly New Age, but the Bible shows Jesus taught these concepts, and that they open the way to knowing and loving God. If you are looking for a loving and inclusive spirituality, a Christianity that embraces God and all people, then this book might be a stepping stone on your path.
In divine love,
Challenge yourself to this zany and informative Religous History Quiz
If you need help editing and or publishing your writing,
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The Hot Springs of America, a novel, showing how another "terrorist" attack could mean the end of our current democracy, and plunge America into a second civil war. Read two complete chapters online, and if want to read the rest, the e-book can be purchased for just $5.95 (PayPal or Credit Card). To start reading, click here: The Hot Springs of America.
Original Songs: Songs of love, peace and the spirit. A number of songs I have written, including "Avatar" and "Live by the Words We Say": Songs.
Clipper Ship is a suite of productivity tools that makes working on a computer easier and more enjoyable. It includes an "instant spreadsheet," allowing you to do calculations with numbers in editors or word processors, even if they are mixed with text. It also allows you to paste often-used blocks of text from a pick list, and copy symbols not on your keyboard from a symbol list. It has a macro recorder, enabling you to record and replay keystrokes and mouse actions. It has an Area from Map feature that easily gets diminsions and areas from on-screen maps including Google Earth. It has an image capture feature that copies the current window or the whole screen into the Paint program so you can edit and save the images. It has a multi-clipboard, enabling you to paste any of the last 12 clips you have copied, monitors your typing speed in the current session (if you care to look at it!), and it is also an abbreviation expander with over 26,000 built-in short forms for words and phrases. It is fully Windows 7 compatible, and also works on previous versions of windows. To find out more, and to download the free 'Lite' version of the program, click here: Clipper Ship.
Aquarius Database is a freeware business database with perpetual inventory stock control and many other nice features, which will meet the needs of many startup and/or small businesses, and which can be extended later to give added functionality as a business grows. To find out more about it, click here: Aquarius Database.
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