John 2

I found a little sheet torn from an old Dutch calendar the other day, sent once by a family member, who passed away a long time ago. It was of the year 1933 (Thursday, October 12). Each sheet had a text with daily food for thought at the back. 

Scancal1 Scancal2

The text contains the following gripping story:

“Around 1688 in a small village of Carinthia a young men lived working as a supervisor in a gunpowder mill. As he needed money, he took his horse to a nearby market and sold it for 300 Thalers. On return he overnighted at an inn and, thinking nobody would see him, went to the stable to pray because he belonged to the suppressed Protestants, who were not allowed to worship in public. A horse trader discovered him and immediately knew he was a Protestant. However, he did not want to betray him because he found it a good opportunity to sell him a book he carried with him, which he knew was highly valued by the Lutherans. It was a large Bible of Weimar. The Protestant was afraid that the horse trader would betray him, but when he saw that he offered him a Weimar Bible that he had never been able to find, he became very interested. They agreed on a price of 30 Thalers. The young man took it home and showed it with much pride to his family. Knowing people suspected him to be a Protestant, he did no dare to read it openly but gathered his family during the night in the cellar and read them God’ s Word from the Weimar Bible by candlelight.”

Single candle flame illuminatied pages from the Book of Psalm in an old bible.

This typifies the religious strife between Catholics and Protestants. Shocking to be remembered of that by a tiny calendar paper that pops up on your desk. And what do we have now in the Middle -East? Christians are being beheaded. Radical Islam (ISIS), which is Suni, murders Shiites as well (similar to the religious battles in Europe).  It takes a long evolution before people become more rational about religion. The Middle Eastern year is somewhere around 1435, the Middle Ages and Renaissance years in Europe, from which emerged Martin Luther and Calvin, and the ensuing religious conflicts. The last one took place in Northern Ireland, some 50 years ago. So if history is any guide, it may take a few more years before Radical Islam comes to its senses. Let’s hope it won’t be centuries.


Add yours
  1. 1
    jelle vd wal

    What shocking ?
    In 1600 the pope burned alive Giordano Bruno, he did not believe in creation, and understood that the Trinity was nonsense.
    Shocking was how the pope and catholic priests behaved in mid 19th century Italy, what then did not yet exist.
    Suspicion of reading a liberal newspaper was enough to be put in a dungeon in chains.
    Around 1865 the pope condemned freedom of expression and freedom of thought.
    In 1870 or so the pope was declared infallible.
    Even in fifties Netherlands catholic priests on sundays drove their bicycles between couples walking in the streets.
    Dutch protestants right now would like to forbid abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia.
    There is just a thin line between our society now, and extreme Islam.

    • 2

      Thanks Jelle for your comment. All very true. Hence the title of this blog. Yes, it still shocks me after being told by the local pastor at my village school that Catholicism was the only right religion. My view is that monotheologies run a similar course. Islam is now at the stage what we called our Middle Ages and Renaisssance, which for our societey led to enlightening and cruel religious strife. I can write a book just about my own experiences, coming from a Protestant family, then forced into Catholocism, and how my own family reacted to that…in the fifties. That has faded now, but the Middle East is just beginning.

  2. 3
    jelle vd wal

    I can recommend a few books on Islam, that show that the present radical Islam is something new, made by the west, that terrorised Muslims since Columbus, even earlier, the crusades.
    The easy occupations of N Africa and the Iberian peninsula were made possible by the jews living there, who were oppressed by their catholic Visigothic kings.
    I hope I do not shock you too much by writing that there is an interesting theory that Paulus invented christianity as secret agent of the Roman emperor in order to fight judaism.
    When one realises what enormous armies the Romans sent to Palestine ons can imagine that judaism, jews, were seen as great threat.
    When around 1500 jews were expelled from the Iberian pensinsula they were welcome in the Ottoman empire.
    Already in 1918 Churchill defended in parliament the use of poison gas in Damascus, to destroy the Arab state, promised by Lawrence.
    Twice the west destroyed Iranian democracy.
    Saddam was a USA creation, as was the Taliban.
    Reuben Levy, ‘The social structure of Islam’, London, New York, 1931, 1932, 1957, 1971
    Richard Fletcher, ‘Moorish Spain’, Berkeley 1992
    Jason Goodwin, ‘Lords of the Horizons, A History of the Ottoman Empire’, New York, 1999
    Michael Grant, ‘The Jews in the Roman World’, 1973, New York
    Ibn Battúta, ‘Travels in Asia and Africa 1325 – 1354’, 1929, 1983, London
    C.R. Boxer, ´The Dutch Seaborne Empire 1600 – 1800´, London 1965, 1977
    Winston Churchill, ‘The Story of the Malakand Field Force’, 1898, 2004, New York

    • 4

      Thanks for your contribution. I am not of the opinion that Radical Islam is made by the “West”. It has evolved from within (Wahabism in Saudi Arabia) and is a strict interpretation of the Quran. That was also the case with Catholicism (Inquisition) and that yielded four centuries of bloody wars. Jews lived in Palestine as did Arabs. My professor in economics said wherever there are Arabs, you get a desert. Jews cultivate. I worked on Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and visited Saudi Arabia twice for some time. There are many books. Change will have to come from within, as it did in the Catholic Church. It will take time and more fights before Islam becomes less paranoid. I can’t visit Mecca, or a mosque. Because I am an infidel. As long as Islam does not become “userfriendly”, it will remain isolated and its followers difficult to assimilate.

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