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Struggle of Faith and Reason: A History of Intolerance and Punitive Censorship

Part II: From Mediaeval Cathars to Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini

Juhani Sarsila

Humanists look up to Hellas as the cradle of European culture. The book spans nearly five centuries of a later epoch of this worthy tradition. Starting with the awesome high-mediaeval Cathars, the exposition proceeds in chronological order. Eventually, we meet Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini, both of them red-letter heretics. The work affords cognisance of a neglected branch of learning. History of morals in general, and that of the struggle of faith and reason in particular, provides in-depth insights into the allotted fate of dissentient man. A potentially fateful nexus appears to be interweaving between book and author. Organised religion is evermore based on the politically beneficial idea of anthropomorphism or metaphysical projection. For has Man not made God in his image?

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When we trace what can be appositely branded the psychopathological history of Europe, we cannot help noticing one great contradiction. Many a Westerner (Faustian) believes that the putative religion of the Christ (of whom little is known) was originally designed to be a religion of philanthropy. Love, rather than faith and hope, was emblematised by St. Paul as the distinctive test of its veritable members. Faith, hope, and love are none the less found to be either mutually incompatible or irreconcilable virtues or downright vices, let alone heresies in the realm of time. It has tellingly emerged that faith alone, or faith appended to hope and even to love (charity) has warranted persecution over and over again.

Originally just one Temple, the Ecclesia Romana had by the time of Augustine already become ninety ‘only and true’ temples that trumpeted one another to be perverted and worth deep-down Hell. The three theological virtues, faith, hope and charity, restricted themselves to the Roman Church itself, not other Christian, conceivably more humane, Churches or divisions. Indubitably, we should call coercion and persecution the instrumental, unalterable vices, or virtues, companied by or derived from the intoleration-based faith, hope, and love in fulfilment of the Levitical Code and a couple of Christ’s obfuscated or possibly concocted parables. We still need to consider the historical significance of the Christian Temple or temples. The standard of churchly morality is shown by the true services of a temple to humankind from one stand, and...

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