- Written by Peter Burnett Peter Burnett
Bernard (Saint) - (d. 1153) Founder of the Cistercian order but best loved as an opponent of Peter Abelard, Bernard of Clairvaux boldly borrowed quotations from the Cluniacs to make himself famous. His guitar playing and populist approach saw him commissioned to stir up solid peasant hatred during the Second Crusade in France and Germany, and he was canonized for this spreading of undue intolerance. He was named Doctor mellifluus, the "honey-sweet teacher", for the fine education he gave to young Wayne of Perth
Cuthbert (Saint) (b. circa 634, d 687) Visions as a sheep tending lad ensured a life of national travel and celebrity for this one time bishop of Lindisfarne. Why British people developed an interest in disturbing his remains after he died is unclear - but Bede describes how Cuthbert's body remained intact, his clothes unsullied and his hair neatly brushed after many years underground. Not forever though - mankind lost faith - and when Cuthbert was dug up again in 1827 - he were but bones.
Gandhi, Mahatma (b. 1869) Studied law at Oxford and crowd control in India. Left Europe to get away from photographs of James Joyce. Was killed en route to prayer in 1948 and has been watched on film by many an audience of disbelieving cineastes. "Look at the state of those rags!"
Hubbard, L. Ron - author of Science Fiction and Dianetics - a form of hypnosis - which lead to the Cult of Scientology. Would-be dictator of his own private cuckoo-land, he had a son called Nibbs who believed he once was a clam. Used to tie people up and throw them off his boat. Believed we were all evolved from aliens called thetans - a belief which gave him easy access to pretty girls. In dotage - grew his hair and nails.
Jesus - Saviour of the World - would he hate the swearing? Or would he hate the cathedrals? Received wisdom is that Jesus died for our sins - but when asked if we would return the favour, the world goes very quiet. He inspired the popular anti-anarchist Christmas carol, Once in Royal David's City: (by Mrs C.F. Alexander)
And through all his wondrous childhood,
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms he lay;
Christian children all must be,
Mild, obedient, good as he.
For more information do not contact your local church.
Luther, Martin (1483 - 1546) The material world is a hospital and man is sick. Man can be seen as healthy only through virtue of the physician God, who comes at his death to heal him. And at high noon in the market square, amid the roguery of dealers, this is where the church should be - grandiose, mysterious, and profitable. Human wisdom shrinks from a mountain to a hillock. Luther's Reformation proves that not every impetuous and revolutionary movement advances thought - and that many are the work of backward minds - hampering humanity. Should in reality have been born about 1400 years before he was.
Marcion (d. circa 160) Scholar and founder of his own church which brought sex to the Christian fore by baptising only virgins, widows, celibates, thrushes, Giggling Nutters and the divorced. Edited a copy of Paul's Romans - but added to it his own sparkling references to the seed of David, the horn of Cannan, the etc. and other horny imagery. Other damage included transformations of the Old and New Testaments - for the popular imagination - with the help of readily understood pagan symbolism. Well done!
Muhammed (b 570) Classic enemy of Christ - in whose Pantheon Jesus is but a minor prophet - saw the world in black and white - split into those who have submitted, and those who resist. Muhammed began life as a camel driver - but as he was prone to foam at the mouth, Christians he met in the desert, and his wife took him to be divine - and from these humble beginnings - after being choked by the angel Gabriel in a cave - Holy War was declared on all things non Islam. Warning - it is probably safer to believe in Muhammed than not, as the Koran's descriptions of hell are unparalleled in literature in their threatening language and descriptions of violence. And note : paramilitary savagery is permitted.
Paul (d. at Rome circa 67) As a young man, Paul "made havoc of the church" - handing Christians over for prison and for death - but by the time he died - a Christian himself - he had long realised the value of martyrdom. He was the first to do everything in the Church - including evangelical missions - raising funds for famine - and denouncing sexual immorality. And many was the evening when Paul became ecstatic and insensible in his lifelong study of the male generative fluid. Paul lies at will for the sake of policy - but why was he so obsessed in particular with this one man, Jesus - after trying so many other religions? Paul believed in God no more than you do - and it is only through his own good publicity that he is seen as a religious hero - and not as a mystic loon.
Sadducees - Jewish sect who according to Josephus did not believe in life after death - and who in contrast believed that the fulfilment of God's word was something for this world only. They ate Pot Noodle and shagged, because in common with most Jewish sects, Sadducees believed that every action was of interest to the Lord - and they maintained virtue thus. Sadducees believed that salvation was to be found in narrowness and disputing tiny points of orthodoxy, and were shy of others almost to the point of appearing rude.
Sidhartha Gautama - "Buddha" (b. 563 BC) Born to an aristocratic life, Buddha left his palace to face the realities of the world in his early twenties. After finding life unfulfilling due to mass poverty , he opted to help the situation by seeking nirvana under a tree at the age of 29. First ever person in history to "drop out". In contemplation Buddha discovered no eschatological scheme however - no reason for death, sin and suffering - and poverty continued unabated, all around him. What's more, he was putting on weight! Buddha panicked, but it was too late. His ultimate achievement, then, was the creation of an impossibly complex eightfold path to heaviness - four Noble Truths - and endless koans. Today Buddha can claim a quarter of a billion adherents world wide- despite his dying declaration : be a lamp unto thyself.