Thursday, February 20, 2014


Whenever I get the urge to tap dance a little too far to the Christian side of my beloved line I only have to remember what the Christian, yeah you read it right, mob in Alexandria did to Hypatia. Yanks me right back every time. She would have been rare in any age, but she lived in late fourth century/ early fifth century Alexandria. Daughter of the philosopher Theon, she was educated in Athens she returned to Alexandria to teach the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Apparently to anyone, Pagan, Christian or other, who was willing to listen.

A seventh century Coptic bishop (who shall remain nameless) wrote of her Hellenistic pagan" and "that "she was devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through her Satanic wiles.” I’m not sure what magic that blithering idiot was referring to and have no idea how astrolabes fit into the picture. Unless HE didn’t have any idea how they worked and couldn’t stand the idea that a mere woman did. Actually considering the willful ignorance of many early churchmen I guess any literacy beyond being able to read the Lord's Prayer could be considered magical. Three guesses where the worship of ignorance displayed by some of our fellow citizens comes from and the first two don't count. 

As for music. There have been sects of Christians from the earliest day until now that have a problem with music, or at least some forms of music.  Must of missed the references in the Old Testament about David and his harp or lyre. And then there’s all those drums, trumpets, etc.

The stories of the why vary.  In one version the bishop Cyril was passing by her house and noticed a crowd out side the door. Inquiring, he was told who lived there and that she was willing to teach anyone who was interested even if it meant standing in the street. Supposedly jealous of her influence, Cyril (already well known for preaching mob violence against his pagan and Jewish neighbors) incited a mob to attack her in the street.

Another version places her in the middle of a feud between the bishop and the governor of the city, Orestes. However it happened, the result was the same. Sometime in the year 415 she was seized. Some say she was dragged off her chariot. The mob took her to a local church, stripped her, beat her to death and burned the body. No one was ever charged with her murder. Cyril was eventually made a saint.

It seems that very little has changed. If you can’t win an argument on the merits, shout it down. If that doesn’t work. Kill it. By 529 laws outlawing any religion but Christianity following the Nicene Creed and the last of the pagan academies were closed. Ironically the feather ruffling Brit Pelagius drops out of sight three or four years later. Denounced as a heretic by the Western Church he may have gone to Palestine. And there are some reports that he made his way back to Britain, perhaps to Wales out of the reach of Rome. 

So much for Sunday School stories. To be honest if it weren’t for the Quakers and the Unitarians I would be so out of here.

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