Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Bronze Age, the New Slur
While defending (on a youtube comment debate) Trinity, Sacrifice of Christ (most notably), and "number" meaning "multiple of one" rather than whatever Mathematics' new Humpty Dumpty guys wants it to mean, I was attacked with what seemed to be a slur and which certainly involved the words Bronze Age.
It also involved a reference to sacrifice or the idea of sacrifice as being necessary as a Bronze Age horror.
I can understand what is meant by a Molochist horror, as child sacrifice. I can understand what is meant by a Communist horror, as twenty years in Gulag or Mental Hospital for speaking out too truly on too open an occasion. I can understand what is meant by Nazi horror such as bunching people together often because of their ethnicity and that among people some of whom suffer from the typhoid and then preventing them from keeping clean or even removing corpses : that seems to have been done in one part of Dachau. I can understand what is meant by Punic horror (even apart from the Molochist horror of the Punes in Carthage), such as promising a city total annihiliation if it does not surrender immediately and then carry it out.
I can understand what is meant by lumping these horrors together as Barbarian horrors, insofar as Civilisation at least among Christians has tended to eliminate these horrors and insofar as Communism and Nazism, though products of a Civilisation can be seen as reverting it to Barbarism. I can even see how impatience with another ethnicity not having adopted the Christian Civilisation can make one subsume Barbaric horrors typical to it as horrors of that ethnicity.
But the point of calling these horrors Bronze Age is somewhat obscure. The train of thought seems to be: Molochist Child Sacrifice was perpetrated during Bronze Age in Canaan. Egyptian Civic Slavery was perpetrated during Bronze Age to build the pyramids. Dito for ruling couple Brother and Sister married so as not to dilute divine blood. The religion of Denmark and Southern Sweden during Bronze Age seems to have been worshipping Nerthus with Human Sacrifice. The Druidic Human Sacrifices seem to reach back to Bronze Age, if Stonehenge and similar things were erected by Druids. And Aztecs and Incas who also sacrificed men seem to have had a roughly speaking Bronze Age technology.
In the last examples, not quite. They were technologically neolithic cultures, using polished stone and bone and ceramics as tools, while reserving metals - gold or copper - for strictly ornamental and ritual functions.
But more important, one culture which clearly started out as Bronze Age was a stranger to these horrors. They hailed one Abraham as ancestor, he had gotten out of Ur in Chaldea to distance himself from even somewhat less horrible things than that, like the worship of Inanna or Ishtar, whose priestesses were harlots. And he had been told first to sacrifice his son and then - unique thing in this context - actually told not to. As far as I know he may not have known iron tools (save perhaps as a memory of things before the flood) and he certainly did not take away spinning and weaving from his wife and daughters in law and maid servants to rationalise it with Spinning Jenny or Flying Shuttle.
He met one contemporary in Canaanite lands who was perfectly just, and with whom he could unite in a common sacrifice: offering bread and wine to the Lord. he was Melchisedec, and he was king of Salem, later known as Jerusalem. This was certainly Bronze Age, but hardly horrible.
I can conceive how one could with similar justice - and of course injustice - talk about Renaissance horror. Venice started an industry in castrate singers, despite Papal excommunications in that era. Witch Craft and Witch Hunts culminate 15th to 17th Centuries. It seems those Witch Cults or some of them did involve human sacrifice. Tudor tyranny culminating in Reformation Tyranny in England was from that time. The Reformation involved similar tyrannies against recalcitrant Catholics many places elsewhere. There may have been a good case for expelling all non-converting Jews and Moors in or around 1492 from Spain, and that is from the Renaissance. Some Catholics were also murdering protestants during the St Bartholomew massacre in Paris.
Henry IV of France was murdered in open street by someone who thought his tolerance of Protestants (formerly his brethren in cult, since he was raised by a Protestant mother) was an attempt to suppress the Catholic religion at least from its publicpowers. A few centuries earlier the heresies of one one Huldrich Zwingli and one John Calvin had existed separately in a Berengarius who revoked his errors about the Sacrament and in one Thomas Bradwardine whose errors about Absolute Predestination did not even land him on the stake. Rather he was given an Archbishopric in Canterbury, but the Black Death prevented him from taking seat, though he had been consecrated in Avignon.* Turcs ravaging parts of Europe also was a new one for the Renaissance (1529). And warriors were less likely to be knights with a certain sense of honour and some local attachment, than to be Landsers or Condottieri, mercenary pikemen, wandering from war to war and from pillage to pillage.
Yes, it was during the Renaissance that an inheritor of the Crusaders, a Count of Orange, assisted at the sack of Rome. His inheritors became among the chief persecutors of Catholicism. It was during the Renaissance that the son and daughter of a Pope became expert in Poisoning, Césare and Lucrezia being children of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI. It was during the Renaissance that Machiavel founded the theory (maybe in irony and sarcasm about the already practise of) Totalitarian Takeovers.
So, why not speak about Renaissance horror? Well, Giotto and Michelangelo is one reason we do not associate the Renaissance with horrors. But more important: the rulers of the time, those most recognised as legitimate, were against these horrors. Protestant rulers who pillaged Churches like some Muslims pillaged in Mali just before Ramadan this year and who earned money or grabbed land on it on top of that were considered as outlaws, like people used to consider the rulers of Russia 1917 - 1990, like people are now regarding some Syria and a few more. The rulers were mostly decent, like Pope Pius V or the Habsburgs in Austria and Spain.
The Church was actively combatting the horrors of the time whether castration of singers or Totalitarian Cynicism in Usurpers, like it was condemning Communism and Nazism a few Centuries later. And of course, some who admire Machiavel, counting him as a glory rather than a horror, conventiently forget about the horrors the Church had to combat.
So, why is animal - not to mention human - sacrifice felt to be a "Bronze Age" horror? Actually it is the Christian Sacrifice, once on Calvary, for all times in the Eucharist, that ended those other sacrifices, daily and bloody. It is through Christianity in the West and through Buddhism in parts of the East (pre-Ashoka Hinduism/Vedism sacrificed horses as much as the Vikings did), maybe in some measure Confucius that this is no more done. It is certainly not thanks to Atheists who are able to call the Christian idea of Sacrifice a "Bronze Age horror".
Bibl. Audoux, Paris
St James Son of Zebedee
*This was before the schism: anyone recognised as Pope by anyone was residing in Avignon. Here is an argument that Yersinia Pestis was created to glorify God. A man whose residing as archbishop would have insulted God, since he considered Astrology an explanation of men's characters was killed before arriving and getting enthroned.