Here Thar Be Monsters!

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NO ONE Expects The Inquisition!

Before I launch into today's tirade, I want to express heart-felt gratitude to George Ure ( and Dr. Henry Makow (, who both put up a link to this blog the other day. I got about a month's worth of traffic in one day and made $5! Both of the above sites are linked in the sidebar under 'More Good Reading.' Thank you, gentlemen!

Now, on to the matter at hand.

There seems to be a cycle in religions, where every thousand years or so, there's a purge and reform kick.

The Roman Catholic church (as opposed to the Irish and Othodox flavors) went through such things twice, though the second time was a bit more civil. The original Inquisition, which focused primarily on Spain, was enacted to purify the faith after the invasion of the Moors from Africa. It was a powerful movement and it was not afraid to use violence, torture and coersion to get what it wanted. It also got a little out of hand.

It was also fighting this new thing called 'science,' that dared to defy the church's dictates by, look shocked, observing the real world.

I know that last bit is terrifying. If people started looking at the real world, it would undermine faith, destroy governments and topple the New/Old/Middle World Order. We just can't have that.

Galileo was tortured, excommunicated and kept under house arrest until his death because he would not recant his simple observation: there are things in the Universe that do not revolve around Earth. (gasp!)

Buddhism has undergone schisms and upheavals. There are as many sects of Buddhism as there are Buddhists, it seems. In Thailand alone, there are the forest monks that practice a certain way, and there are the 'other' monks who do their thing. The Zen and Tao schools are offshoot attempts to purify the faith. Nicheren in Japan was a heretic, whose monasteries still survive, though he didn't. (nam myoho renge kyo)

Now, it appears that Islam is facing the same impulse. There are the dominant sects: shi'ite and sunni, but there are also minority sects, such as the Indian version called 'ahmadiyyah.' Indonesia is primarily Sunni, with a significant portion of Shi'ites, and a tiny minority of Ahmadiyah.

Now, if you are not up to date on Islamic sects, allow me to try to boil it down. The Sunni, which is short for an Arabic expression meaning, 'people of the way,' believe they are of the purest observance. They constitute that majority of Muslims worldwide.

Shi'ites, or shia muslims, are 'the followers of Ali.' They believe that members of Muhammad's family have a special standing and holiness that is above others. It is similar in concept to the Levite priests of the Hebrews, in that a genetic link to a certain family brings aditional power and holiness.

The Ahmadiyya are followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), an Indian Muslim who claimed to have been the messiah foretold in the Qur'an.

Add to this mix a group that calls itself the FPI. They are a self-appointed group of fanatical purists here in Indonesia who perceive themselves as the 'cleansing force,' the purifiers whose job it is to straighten out anyone who doesn't believe or doesn't follow the straight and narrow. The FPI are notorious for 'raiding' nightclubs and brothels, and beating the living crap out of anyone caught in the grips of iniquity.

Their power rests largely in fear and intimidation, and because of sympathizers within government who are unwilling/unable to control them. In fact, just yesterday, the FPI met with the National Police and said in no uncertain terms that if the Ahmadiyyah are not banned completely, they will revolt against the government, topple the PTB and cause all kinds of havoc and mayhem.

The National Police thanked them for their input.

A couple of years ago, the Ahmadiyyah were banned from openly practicing their religion, so they took it underground. Obviously, the FPI was able to cram through legislation that violates the country's consitution.

That, apparently, was not enough, since last week a mob of around 1,000 men beat and stabbed four Ahmadis to death in eastern Java. The leader, though videotaped, has not been identified and no one had seen him before the morning of the mob scene, when he was giving out blue arm bands and insiting a riot.

The just stinks of the Palindrome Man's colorful revolutions. The Palindrome Man loves to take existing divisions and stir the pot a bit, but that's an argument for another time.

Two days later, a mob showed up to a Muslim boarding school and proceeded to beat the crap out of a handful of students and a couple of security guards. The school is Sunni, but the clerics who run it are suspected of being sympathetic to Shia.

Another incident involved a Christian man, who was accused of blasphemy (yes, it's against the law), and subsequently found guilty. A group of folks thought the sentence was too light and proceeded to burn down a couple of churches and beat a few people silly.

It appears to the untrained eye that the Sunni and Shia can agree that other sects are heretical, but abscent other groups to unify over, then they take to beating each other up. This is well in evidence in the Middle East, both in years past and in recent events.

People are always afraid of change, and some take it to extremes. There's also the power factor. The dominant group sees its power and influence being leached away by schismatic factions, and they react with hate and intolerance, usually violent, to prevent the downsizing of their bloc.

We saw this with the Catholic church, which ruled Europe with an iron fist for centuries. The kings of other countries couldn't be seated without the blessing of the pope. That's power. But, as we all know, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The Roman church began a series of wars as a means of social control, that we commonly call the Crusades. When that wasn't enough, and people began to react against such things, it created (or at least sanctioned) the Inquisition, which was not afraid to use horrific devices and means of torture to extract 'confessions' of heresy. The 'confessors' were then purified by bar-b-queing them on stakes.

Eventually, christianity broke into a million pieces with groups disagreeing about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin, or whether Jesus owned his clothes.

The whole Middle East situation is predicated on the presumption that a man named Abraham, or Ibrahim, had two wives, and each of them had a son. Isaac went on to head up the Hebrews and Ismael went off to the east and became the ancestor of the Arabs and other semitic peoples, now predominantly Muslim. Each claims rightful decendency from Abraham/Ibrahim, and each is willing to slaughter the other to prove it.

It does set up a rather interesting irony: the Israelis bombing Palestine into the Stone Age is actually a supreme act of anti-semitism, which they are always accusing everyone else of being who criticize the 'jews' or Israwl's despicable treatment of the Palestinians.

So, what it comes down to, is that the Inquisition of the Catholic church, or the Salem witch hunts, or McCarthey-ism, actually caused more damage than it repaired, because ultimately people were reviled by the torture and the abuses in the name of purification.

The FPI and their brethern could tear a page from that experience. Violent opposition usually has the opposite effect, causing people to take up the cause of the underdog, out of sheer sympathy, if nothing else.

The Prophet, Jesus, Buddha: they all preached peace and forgiveness. Jesus was slaughtered by the jews in an act of cleansing, because he dared to preach against the established order. The reaction of the jews created a movement that has lasted 2,000 years.

Is that really what Islamic reformers want? Why not lead by example? You draw more flies with suger than with salt. Perhaps living the word of the Qur'an might attract more, and better attention thatn mob justice, beatings and arson.

Fear and intimidation only go so far, but they usually create an equal and opposite reaction. The FPI could be sewing the seeds of its own destruction with their intolerance and violence. They might want to consider, just for a moment, a Buddhist concept called, 'kharma.' What goes around comes around. People who convert of their own free will are more likely to be true believers and good followers.

Something to consider when you're out there with torches and pitchforks.

Something Jesus said is rather appropriate, as well. 'Before you go to clean the dirt from your brother's eye, first remove the dirt that is blinding your own.'

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