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Verdance and Venom

Shortly after the beginning of the second millennium AD, a great desire rose among the people of Europe for worthiness and meaning in their lives, and from this rose also the demand for the celebration of Corpus Christi, and renewed reverence for the Eucharist. This time was notable not only for the fact that the people, not the Pope in Rome nor the Church establishment, moved for the establishment of the celebration, but also because this renewed hunger for worthy service led to the creation of hospitals and shelters for the poor and sick. The Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar were created in those days, meant to serve and protect the weak and helpless. Devotion to the ideals and precepts of Christ were renewed as never before, and sadly never since.

Yet shortly after this time a different type of devotion rose, one which effect also remains to this day. The social changes in Europe in the early 11th Century included greater attention to women, and women became notable authors and patrons of literature. And at this time also appeared a new genre of literature, the immensely popular stories of 'courtly love'. These stories of forbidden love, usually high in sexual content and lax in moral standards, became something of the precursor to modern soap operas and movies. A common example was one Marie de France, who seems to have created the formula with the requisite conditions of true love showing up some years after marriage, the immediate abandonment of marriage vows for 'true love', always represented in carnal action, and of course the rejection and often death of the husband who was betrayed, usually at the hand of the new rival. The common themes of these stories were that true love was more 'sacred' than marriage vows, that adultery was not only allowable but the inevitable "right" course when the lady was so inclined, and that sexual bliss was the same if not better than religious devotion. Whether we are discussing the text from 'Lanval' or the plot from the latest 'Desperate Housewives', this disparagement of faithful devotion and the replacement of God with Sex has been around quite a while, yet it should be easy for the reader to recognize the dangers in such moral equivalency.

The individual must make his or her own moral choices, but it is imperative for us to be aware that the differences are often very great in consequence and meaning, and what may appear to be a fulfilling and thoroughly enjoyable part of life, may in actual fact be poison venom, a danger to be avoided all the more because it appears to be the opposite of its true nature. This is not a lesson for pointing out to others, but for self-contemplation and alignment of values.


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Comments (2)

DJ, The Eucharist was inven... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

DJ, The Eucharist was invented as a talisman on behalf of temporal Roman priestcraft for use against the people's conscience:

In the beginning the Church (including that in Rome) celebrated the Passover memorial of unleavened bread and wine as a MEMORIAL, freely and willingly. They were free and independant congregations, more or less Judaized, but unanimous that Christ the Messiah would again return bodily JUST ONCE and for all.
Flash forword to the consolidation of the Roman church under the Franks and suddenly all Christendom is declared the Bishop of Rome' bailiwick and the priests of Rome now claim magical powers to summon the body (and full substance) of Christ down 1000 times in 1000 churches each and every Sunday (not the Sabbath, but the Day of the All-Conquering Sun, Rome's traditional pagan holy day since circa 760 BC. Note the Jewish squarish bread has become round like the sun in Roman hands! Note the monstrance (the container of the Eucharist)is modelled after the sun with rays!

But the really wicked part is that it was the Eucharist that was waved before the condemed "heretics"(generally catagorized as Anabaptists) to justify their execution, i.e.
Q. Do you beleive Christ is the Son of God?
A. Yes.
Q. Grrrr!....Well, is this cracker really Jesus?
A. No.
Q. Light'er up, boys while I wave this monstrance on a pole at him until he changes his mind or until he's dead, whichever comes first!

As for your backgrounder of the art of courtly love. The basis of chivalry, of course, but very specific:
Unmarried knight, MARRIED lady.
Ideally an impetus toward a kind of Christian Bushido attitude of romantic self-sacrifice in battle. Most Knights Bachelor carried keepsakes from Maidens yet the Chivalric Ideal was built upon unrequited love for a noble (married) Lady.


Bryan, have you read any of... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Bryan, have you read any of Marie De France, Chretien, or other writers of the period? "unrequited" is not true, "unmarried knight" was not true, "self-sacrifice" is not true in this case. I believe you are thinking of the later (c. 1600) variations which were trying to clean up the stories, kind of like how Disney adapted the original Grimm brothers' works.

And I was speaking of the popular customs of 1050-1090 AD, not the repression by the Papal State and various wannabe's.




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