Reading: Name of the Rose
I finished reading â€˜The Name of the Roseâ€™ by Umberto Eco. It is a Sherlock type of novel with a setting in a monastery that is confronted with serial murders of monks. Its crime investigation is heavy on some logic through a series of deductions and inductions. It is quite a challenge read at times especially if one is not familiar with the Catholic monastic traditions. I once fantasized about becoming a monk when I was a child.
In addition to sleuthing and adventures in their quest to solve the murders, William and Adso had a lot of things to say about the history of the Catholic tradition, this is coming from an author (Umberto Eco) who specialized in medieval studies and I am thankful to read him which felt like listening to his lectures as a Professor in Italy. He transported me into that era, the Dark Ages, its conflicted theories between poverty (because Christ did not possess anything) and wealth (because the Gospels recommended tithes and man was given dominion over all things on earth including its vast wealth), and how, in the spirit of man-made truth, men of God judged and murdered so many innocent people via Inquisition.
Religion, when extreme, becomes a sort of extremistâ€™s â€˜lewdnessâ€™ to his â€˜perceivedâ€™ truth. In his zeal, he demands this truth to be adopted by everyone and in failing to comply, he is willing to kill them. And that is the epitome of antiChrist. A zealot can be the twin brother of antiChrist. The novel exhibits him through a character named Jorge, an old and blind monk who plotted a way to murder other monks to punish them for their non-conformity, unnatural sexual desires and this he did via an intrigue involving a secret book with a secret content in a secret library that was off limits to everyone except the librarian and the abbot. Whoever became curious, he died a painful death (of course I wonâ€™t give that away for obvious reasons).
The Dark Ages were frightening indeed. People interpreted the Word of God as the only knowledge one should possess and aspire for â€“ only the Word of God as it is written â€“ is the absolutest of truths. The Inquisition was designed to ferret this â€˜truthâ€™ from the accused. It was a horrible process where no evidence was required except what the accused had said, or did, or what others said about him or her, or his/her actions that suggested demonic rituals. Soon, the accused was condemned as heretic or a witch or a devil worshipper. The Inquisitor held that power over anyone and in his zeal, he would utilize a psychological technique of misleading the victim until he ended up telling what is expected of him to say. Then to the jail for extreme punishments or hanging or execution or burning at the stake.
Awful and horrifying.
There is danger in extremism because the extremist assumes he thinks and speaks for God and metes out the punishment on his assumed Godâ€™s enemies. We still see them around us albeit not as dangerous as the ones in the dark Ages. But they are in the midst of us.