Tag Archives: God

Rasputin Wants YOU! to read Whom God Would Destroy

12 Apr

Bless you, Alexis, and be cured of your haemophilia!

Or maybe that’s just my interpretation of this absolutely bizarre book trailer–and who better to have made it than the mysterious, mystical, highly heterodox Commander Pants?

The good Commander, you might recall, is the author of a delightfully blasphemous book, Whom God Would Destroy–which, as you might also recall, I reviewed a couple months ago.  If you don’t recall, you can read about the winner of the Spring 2011 Heretic Badge of Honor right here.

In any case, here’s the book trailer.  Watch and enjoy–unless you’re a person particularly susceptible to hypnosis, subliminal messages, and/or the piercing eyes of a really messed-up Russian mystic.  If you have any of the above weaknesses, you might want to click on another hyperlink, any other hyperlink, and get far away from here while you still can.  Just some friendly advice.

Bonus points to the first person to spot Rasputin.  And when I say bonus points, I mean it in the Whose Line way.

What is Mark Twain doing on a SF review site?

9 Feb

Besides the fact that I think he would have been an awesome blogger, and has won a posthumous Heretic Badge of Honor from the Scattering, whatever that means.

I’ve been noticing a trend in stats for the Scattering, namely: an essay I wrote last year on Mark Twain’s scathing satire of religion is consistently one of my most popular posts.  I’m not complaining–if you’ve read anything here you’ll quickly realize that this blogger is an atheist who doesn’t suffer (divine) fools gladly (hear that Erasmus!?).

the Scattering is less scattered now, but previously this was also the online home of some of my academic assignments I thought might be useful to other students trolling the web looking to plagiarize (joking! there’s a special circle of Hell for plagiarists).  The actual home for those posts, however, is now my other blog, Narricide.  I, tragically, don’t update very often over there, but the oldies are goodies.

The Mark Twain essays, for future reference, are here, here, and here:

Letters from Hell: Mark Twain and Satan (1 of 3)

Letters from Hell: Mark Twain and Satan (2 of 3)

Letters from hell: Mark Twain and Satan (3 of 3)

Whom God Would Destroy, by… Commander Pants?

31 Jan

“A novel about taking reality with a pillar of salt”

Thomas Paine knows what's up

While The Lancaster Rule is in progress, I’ll be picking up the first ever ebook I received as a “gift” on Kindle.  It’s pretty exciting.  Not to mention the book is on the short list for the February 2011 Heretic Badge of Honor from the Scattering.

Written by the mysterious Commander Pants, a pseudonym (I hope) for the as-yet-unnamed “pseuper hero,” Whom God Would Destroy is a cheerful piece of literary blasphemy with this for a plot summary:

It’s 1987, and “God” decides that it’s about time he returned to Earth once more. Opening up a New Age store, he brings with him a fresh message for mankind to screw up – one tailor-made for this, the age of greed. It’s called Meism, and it extols the virtues of selfishness, having its adherents, “Do good unto others so they can feel good about themselves,” instead of that Golden Rule’s tired old message. Sadly, He runs into a few kinks he didn’t foresee…

Whom God Would Destroy; it’s about God, Big Macs, insanity and the search for the Ultimate Orgasm!

Which is all well and good for an expatriate Catholic who had a religion teacher (a strict, straight-laced, grizzled and gray-haired religion teacher) tell her class in high school that Heaven is an “infinite and eternal orgasm with Jesus.”  So infinitely disturbing.

Review forthcoming.

What the Heaven and Hell!? (V gets religious)

29 Jan

Or, how a show I used to really enjoy has suspended my suspension of disbelief.

I wanted to write this a week ago, but there is no wrath, after all, like an atheist socked in the face with preachy religious messages in the middle of a science fiction program that’s supposed to be about, well, science fiction, and I didn’t want to have a completely incoherent rant splashed all over search engines for the rest of time.  After two-ish years of science fiction blogging, I still have some dignity.  Maybe.

So here goes:

I’ve been reviewing ABC’s alien invasion drama V since it premiered last year.  I was thrilled with the show: Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin are both fantastic actresses, and to see them face off in an intergalactic war seemed pretty exciting.  I’ll admit–part of me was trying to fill that LOST-shaped hole in my heart, and FlashForward just wasn’t doing it.  FF had the plot twists, but V had the characters worth caring about.

There’s the FBI agent turned terrorist, the omnicompetent mercenary who can kill soldier aliens with a shovel, the slick tv anchor with access to the mothership,  the turncoat reptiloid traitor, and the Catholic priest who lets them plot and plan their revolution against the Visitors in the basement of his church.  Meanwhile, they banter and make Thorn Birds references.  This season they added that son of Satan from Reaper as the smart-ass scientist, and at last the cast was complete.  It would sound like the premise for a really bizarre sitcom–if the fate of the universe weren’t at stake.

It’s not surprising that the priest, Father Jack Landry, grated on my nerves at first.  He was so dreadfully naive–letting vital information slip to all the wrong people, and biting his fingernails over violence (this is a revolution, buddy).  But he grew on me–mostly because he’s just such a terrible priest.  For God’s sake, there’s a mercenary weapons expert torturing a captive in the middle of the rectory!  Not to mention the whole Jack-Landry-breaks-the-Seal-of-the-Confessional-to-his-own-personal-confessor,-the-FBI-agent thing, which is kind of a bad sin, for a priest.

Simply put, I liked the show–and I defended it against Kate the Lostie, who was all the time pushing me toward Fringe and Minecraft videos.

But I stopped watching halfway through episode 2.2, “Serpent’s Tooth,” and haven’t started up again.  Here’s the thing:

Season One dealt very well with the differences between humans and Visitors.  At that time, it was all about emotion–namely, love (and even more namely, love of a mother for her children).  Reason’s great and all, but love was what worried V Queen Anna most of all.  And in a fantastic season finale twist, Anna herself experienced her first burst of human emotion (rage) when her own children (well, creepy soldier children reptile eggs) were… er… frozen to death by the Fifth Column.

This season, the emphasis has shifted.  In one of the most ridiculous television scenes I have ever had the misfortune of watching:

Apparently, what makes humans human isn’t emotion, empathy, love–it’s The Soul.

“I have human skin, I feel, but I need you to tell me something…” Ryan begs of Father J, “Do I have a soul!”

(Cut scene) “I will isolate it in the medical bay!” Anna exclaims.

(Cut again) “Every creature can feel the grace of God!” Jack tells Ryan.

(And again) “It’s too complex!” cries Diana.

*cue creepy piano music*

Oh, I’ll pick V up again when I can find it on Megavideo, I guess.  But I won’t be so naively happy about it myself, and I don’t know that I’ll ever get that immersion experience that a good story–print or film–can give you if it successfully suspends your disbelief.  If the show continues along this path, viewers have to accept that “humanity” in the world of Anna and Jack is defined in terms of religion.

No, the idea of a soul isn’t very controversial in the United States, but to base an entire science fiction series on it is… jarring (and a lot harder to deny in V than it ever was in the at-times-somewhat-spiritual LOST).  I’m an American Studies major–I’ll learn to look at V the way I do any other historical artifact: as a product of its time and culture.  But who really wants to be a scholar watching tv?

The Protestant Reformation Comics have moved

9 Aug

… to Narricide, my other blog.  You know, the one with all those research papers, historical marginalia, and other academic odds and ends.  Sorry about the confusion!  So if you’re looking for Henry VIII and Thomas More playing chess, or Thomas Cromwell singing to the pope, you can find them here: Go to Junker George, Narricide’s completely historically-accurate comic of biblical proportions.

Or if you’re looking for something specific:

#1 Dissolution of the Monasteries

#2 The Holy Eucharist

#3 Devious Thomas Cromwell

#4 Teresa of Ávila writes The Interior Castle

#5 Henry VIII and Thomas More Play Chess

#6 Debunking Superstitions

#7 King Lear’s First Mistake

#8 Tudor Truth or Dare

#9 Commie Professor

#10 Anne of Cleves gets her picture taken

Save your stamps and don’t bother with the hate mail– I know I’m going to Hell.

Sincerely,

Isabela Morales

Author Response: Faith, Science, and The Proximian

4 Aug

After I raised some objections in a review to what I see as an incongruous blending of biblical literalism in his science fiction novel The Proximian, I wanted to make sure author Dennis Phillips had a hearing too.  He felt strongly enough to leave a very generous comment on my review, and I felt strongly enough to re-publish my review of atheist Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation. But not everyone scrolls down to read the comments, so here’s Mr. Phillips’s response to an admittedly critical reception of The Proximian from the Scattering:

Thank you, Isabela for taking time to review my work, and thank you for your kind comments. You mentioned in an email to me that you are an athiest. As such, I understand that you would be biased with regard to any blending of religion in science.

You seem to believe there is some disconnect between faith and science. I do not. You seem to believe that if someone is true to science, that they cannot be religious, which is why you wrote “I find it difficult to believe that an astrophysicist like Carl Sage could accept Creationism.” Yet many like him have and do. I can no more prove the existence of God, than you can disprove it. In the end, a belief in God, like a belief in the theory of evolution, must be a matter of faith.

Many thanks again and best wishes for a successful future,

Dennis Phillips, author, The Proximian

And here’s my comment in reply:

I’d hate to get into a theological argument in a comment thread, but one thing you said in particular stuck out to me as rather off– “A belief in God, like a belief in the theory of evolution, must be a matter of faith.”

Absolutely not!

Tim Minchin said it best: “Science adjusts its views based on what’s been observed. Faith is denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.”

In regard to the “absence of evidence” vs. “evidence of absence” argument, here’s briefly what I have to say:

Observation and experimentation is the basis of science, and these pillars allow not only for dialogue but the opportunity for other scientists and researchers to disprove a hypothesis–and so get closer to the truth (knowing something is wrong is just as valuable as knowing which answer is right). The fact that one cannot, as you mentioned, disprove the existence of God only serves to highlight the very real disconnect between faith and science: that’s completely the opposite of the scientific ethos.

Sam Harris’s short “Letter to a Christian Nation” would be a great resource for anyone wishing to better understand atheism.

– Isabela Morales

Well, the debate isn’t going to be solved in the comment thread of a second-tier science fiction review blog, but I hope that gives readers a more rounded-out view of author Dennis Phillips’s philosophy and reasons for including some Genesis apocrypha in his novel.  The stakes, as he let me know, are high:

One of us is wrong. We can’t both be right. And if I’m wrong, when I die, I’ve lost nothing; but if you’re wrong, then some day, when you die, you’ve lost everything.

Damn.

Souls in a Petri Dish (Review: Letter to a Christian Nation)

4 Aug

“Atheists are the most reviled minority in America.”

Sam Harris has it exactly right.  Polls—even some taken shortly after 9/11—show that the majority of Americans would rather have a Muslim president than one who doesn’t believe in any God at all.  Maybe that seems hard to believe when we think back to the horror over our current Presidents highly suspicious middle name, but the number bear it out.  Atheists aren’t likely to achieve high office.

Maybe that’s why one of our most famous nonbelievers in American history, Thomas Paine, is the most notable of our founding fathers not to have a monument.  They don’t even mention him in the recent History Channel documentary America: The Story of Us(which is otherwise both moving and surprisingly objective) in the Valley Forge segment.  George Washington thought the political pamphleteer important and inspiring enough to read to his starving, freezing men at Valley Forge (and thus keep the army together through a terrible winter)—but this isn’t the Age of Reason anymore.

In high school, I was nostalgic for the political pamphlets of Thomas Paine rallying patriots to the Revolutionary cause.  Nostalgic not because I’d been there (though I’m still holding out for time travel), but because today’s political debates involve so much more mudslinging and snide soundbites than any meaningful debate, and because—to someone who compliments acquaintances on brilliant extended metaphors in emails and cries after every re-reading of Plato’s Phaedo—good rhetoric is so, so hard to find.

Especially on the issue of religion and faith.  On a small scale, the University of Alabama club “triple-A,” Alabama Atheists and Agnostics, had its chalking vandalized by devout Southern Christians about half a dozen times this past year.  Pouring slushies on a chalk portrait of Darwin is the college equivalent of a shut-down of intellectual debate, I guess—which is something atheists face in the “Christian nation” of the United States.

I can’t help but have a wonderful time reading the gleefully irreverent Christopher Hitchens.  As might be expected, I can’t say the same for my ex-roommate at UA, who never looked at me the same after she found God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything on my Kindle.  But Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation satisfied my sentimental longing for Thomas Pain-esque writing, and then some.  His short book—more a manifesto—echoes Paine’s celebrated Age of Reason in that he’s not on the defensive.  Harris explains that the New Atheism isn’t just a negative (not believing in God): it’s about a positive too, belief in science and reason.

Last fall, I awarded Thomas Paine the Scattering’s premier literary award—the Heretic Badge of Honor—for his 1794 Age of Reason.  Today, I’m awarding the Heretic Badge to Sam Harris for Letter to a Christian Nation, for taking up the torch.  He writes in his conclusion, after all, that:

“This letter is the product of failure—the failure of the many brilliant attacks upon religion that preceded it, the failure of our schools to announce the death of God in a way that each generation can understand, the failure of the media to criticize the abject religious certainties of our public figures—failures great and small that have kept almost every society on this earth muddling over God an despising those who muddle differently.”

In his letter, the New Atheist does revive for a modern audience some ideas that reminded me of past doubters very strongly.  The foundation of atheism, he argues, is a scientific mindset, but that might mean something different than many people expect:

“The core of science is not controlled experiment or mathematical modeling; it is intellectual honest.  It is time we acknowledged a basic feature of human discourse: when considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn’t.”

Atheists don’t revile God (although, as Harris points out, there’s a whole lot of evidence to do just that)—we respect rationality.  That’s the scientific mindset.

This definition of “intellectual honesty” struck me as particularly reminiscent of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, in which he wrote my favorite 18th-century quote:

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing or disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.”

Or for Harris, what is impossible to believe in in modern society, with so much scientific evidence stacked against the need for a God.  It’s as incongruous as, well, to use one of my favorite expressions from the Letter—“souls in a Petri dish.”

I won’t go into detail on Harris’s arguments, because I couldn’t begin to write more clearly or concisely than he does in Letter to a Christian Nation.  And personally, I wonder how many of the Christians the book’s addressed to will actually read it—but for those who do or are considering it, let me say that while it’s bold and certainly controversial, it’s written in some of the most clear, logical prose I’ve ever read.  It’s accessible, and written more to persuade than inflame (like some of Hitchens’s writings).

The book’s only 900 locations on the Kindle (as opposed to the 5-8,000 of the average novel), so I’d place it at about 100 pages.  In any case, it’s a one-afternoon read.  So head on outside on this beautiful summer (is it summer yet?  I never really know) day, relax in the sun, wear a hat or a beekeeper’s veil if you’re easily sunburned, listen to the rustle of leaves in the wind and insects buzzing in the grass, and remember that you can thank evolution for it all—not God.

Happy Pentecost, everyone!

Letter to a Christian Nation is available in paperback as well as an ebook on Amazon for $8.64

Verdict? The Proximian, by Dennis Phillips

3 Aug

The jury’s hung.

In his explanation of his philosophy of science fiction, author Dennis Phillips criticizes scientific plot holes in contemporary fiction.  And while he comments that he does not personally believe in a race of beings born from daughters of man and the Brobdingnagian “Sons of God” referenced in passing in Genesis, Phillips’s use of the concept as an explanation for extraterrestrial life doesn’t meet his own standard for science fiction.

It’s not scientific.

While the technical details about the starship Ambassador and the planet Proximus are excellent, as a reader I couldn’t get over the disconnect between the aspects of supposed “hard” science fiction and the harkening back to the dubious science of Genesis.  Forgive me if I find it difficult to believe that an astrophysicist like Carl Sage could accept Creationism.

Reading time: At 450 pages, this is a book that needs two weeks at least.

Recommendation: Fans of C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy will find an appealing story in The Proximian.  I thought Phillips’s writing style was very readable–clear, smooth, and uncluttered.  But I took issue with some of the content of the novel: I found the explanation for the existence of extraterrestrial life unconvincing, and it seemed uncharacteristic coming from a standpoint of keeping the science first in science fiction.

The Proximian is available as an ebook on Amazon for $2.99

Souls in a Petri Dish (Review: Letter to a Christian Nation)

24 May

“Atheists are the most reviled minority in America.”

Sam Harris has it exactly right.  Polls—even some taken shortly after 9/11—show that the majority of Americans would rather have a Muslim president than one who doesn’t believe in any God at all.  Maybe that seems hard to believe when we think back to the horror over our current Presidents highly suspicious middle name, but the number bear it out.  Atheists aren’t likely to achieve high office.

Maybe that’s why one of our most famous nonbelievers in American history, Thomas Paine, is the most notable of our founding fathers not to have a monument.  They don’t even mention him in the recent History Channel documentary America: The Story of Us (which is otherwise both moving and surprisingly objective) in the Valley Forge segment.  George Washington thought the political pamphleteer important and inspiring enough to read to his starving, freezing men at Valley Forge (and thus keep the army together through a terrible winter)—but this isn’t the Age of Reason anymore.

In high school, I was nostalgic for the political pamphlets of Thomas Paine rallying patriots to the Revolutionary cause.  Nostalgic not because I’d been there (though I’m still holding out for time travel), but because today’s political debates involve so much more mudslinging and snide soundbites than any meaningful debate, and because—to someone who compliments acquaintances on brilliant extended metaphors in emails and cries after every re-reading of Plato’s Phaedo—good rhetoric is so, so hard to find.

Especially on the issue of religion and faith.  On a small scale, the University of Alabama club “triple-A,” Alabama Atheists and Agnostics, had its chalking vandalized by devout Southern Christians about half a dozen times this past year.  Pouring slushies on a chalk portrait of Darwin is the college equivalent of a shut-down of intellectual debate, I guess—which is something atheists face in the “Christian nation” of the United States.

I can’t help but have a wonderful time reading the gleefully irreverent Christopher Hitchens.  As might be expected, I can’t say the same for my ex-roommate at UA, who never looked at me the same after she found God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything on my Kindle.  But Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation satisfied my sentimental longing for Thomas Pain-esque writing, and then some.  His short book—more a manifesto—echoes Paine’s celebrated Age of Reason in that he’s not on the defensive.  Harris explains that the New Atheism isn’t just a negative (not believing in God): it’s about a positive too, belief in science and reason.

Last fall, I awarded Thomas Paine the Scattering’s premier literary award—the Heretic Badge of Honor—for his 1794 Age of Reason.  Today, I’m awarding the Heretic Badge to Sam Harris for Letter to a Christian Nation, for taking up the torch.  He writes in his conclusion, after all, that:

“This letter is the product of failure—the failure of the many brilliant attacks upon religion that preceded it, the failure of our schools to announce the death of God in a way that each generation can understand, the failure of the media to criticize the abject religious certainties of our public figures—failures great and small that have kept almost every society on this earth muddling over God an despising those who muddle differently.”

In his letter, the New Atheist does revive for a modern audience some ideas that reminded me of past doubters very strongly.  The foundation of atheism, he argues, is a scientific mindset, but that might mean something different than many people expect:

“The core of science is not controlled experiment or mathematical modeling; it is intellectual honest.  It is time we acknowledged a basic feature of human discourse: when considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn’t.”

Atheists don’t revile God (although, as Harris points out, there’s a whole lot of evidence to do just that)—we respect rationality.  That’s the scientific mindset.

This definition of “intellectual honesty” struck me as particularly reminiscent of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, in which he wrote my favorite 18th-century quote:

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing or disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.”

Or for Harris, what is impossible to believe in in modern society, with so much scientific evidence stacked against the need for a God.  It’s as incongruous as, well, to use one of my favorite expressions from the Letter—“souls in a Petri dish.”

I won’t go into detail on Harris’s arguments, because I couldn’t begin to write more clearly or concisely than he does in Letter to a Christian Nation.  And personally, I wonder how many of the Christians the book’s addressed to will actually read it—but for those who do or are considering it, let me say that while it’s bold and certainly controversial, it’s written in some of the most clear, logical prose I’ve ever read.  It’s accessible, and written more to persuade than inflame (like some of Hitchens’s writings).

The book’s only 900 locations on the Kindle (as opposed to the 5-8,000 of the average novel), so I’d place it at about 100 pages.  In any case, it’s a one-afternoon read.  So head on outside on this beautiful summer (is it summer yet?  I never really know) day, relax in the sun, wear a hat or a beekeeper’s veil if you’re easily sunburned, listen to the rustle of leaves in the wind and insects buzzing in the grass, and remember that you can thank evolution for it all—not God.

Happy Pentecost, everyone!

Letter to a Christian Nation is available in paperback as well as an ebook on Amazon for $8.64

Trial by Combat: God, Feudalism, and the Crusades (part 2 of 2)

8 May

The belief that God will necessarily lead the righteous to conquest reflects the superstitious mentality of feudal judicial practices, only now on a much wider scale.

Where trial by ordeal or combat once applied the principle to feuds or disagreements between individuals, the crusades incorporated this feudal institution into the realm of international politics.  But emphasis on more admirable values of feudalism than superstition also crossed over into the “crusading mentality” to fuse with religious sentiment­—in particular, the importance of personal loyalty to one’s lord.

For instance, loyalty to God’s cause is demonstrated by devotion to Charlemagne, characterized through the epic as a pious king who receives visions from God and is guarded by St. Gabriel.

Moreover, the swords of both Roland and Charlemagne symbolize more concretely the connection between feudal service and religion; while Roland’s Durendal contains relics from various saints and the Virgin Mary, Charlemagne’s Jouise holds the point of “the lance with which our Lord was wounded on the cross” (108), providing a direct connection between Christ the heavenly king and Charles the earthly emperor.

But this synthesis of religious ardor and feudal values ultimately creates a conflict of interest within the vassal-crusader.  While combining the fervor of supposed divine sanction with a belief in infallibility makes Charlemagne’s army a formidable force– described by the enemy as “fierce” men with “no thought of failing” (129)—Roland’s interpretation of war as holy encourages zeal over caution.

Roland’s courage and pride, bolstered and supported by certainty of moral rightness, approaches recklessness when he refuses to blow his horn for help.  In this way, religious zeal comes into conflict with the traditional qualities of a good vassal—prudence, common sense, and cooperation.

In the Song of Roland, this war of values finds symbolic expression in the inadvertent battle between Roland and a blinded Oliver—Roland, described as “brave,” represents the crusader, valiant to the point of recklessness and proud nearly to the point of sin; Oliver, “wise” (64), reflects the caution and discretion of the feudal vassal.

Rejecting the established Benedictine standards of piety, which held secluded monks and nuns as the holy men and women who ensured God’s blessings on earth, crusading warriors instead emphasized the active life, dashing headlong into the world to “administer His judgment” (136) themselves.

Filled with confidence in both their rightness and the divine support of God in their mission, these crusaders—as depicted in the Song of Roland—carried feudal values with them, in the head and hilt, into an atmosphere of religious fervor.

But ironically, while feudal standards and superstitions help to create the “crusading mentality” of moral certainty and certain victory, it is this same fusion which, by contributing to the pride and reckless confidence of the crusader, ultimately leads to the rejection of a number of core feudal values in the Song of Roland.  Though “Roland never loved a coward, nor arrogant man” (97), the title warrior demonstrates that—in an arena of religious zeal—avoiding the one may create the other.

A/N: After re-reading this paper (written about a year and a half ago for a University of Alabama history course), I had another couple ideas about The Song of Roland—in light of the Reformation/Counter-Reformation course I took from the same professor this semester—

The idea of God’s sovereignty and divine will in the crusading mentality makes for an interesting example of the Catholic theology early Protestant reformers so vehemently opposed.  Traditional Catholic theology of justification holds that divine will cooperates with human will in a person achieving salvation; Protestants, on the other hand, hold that justification and receipt of grace is a strictly passive process (human works are worthless).

In Roland, the message is absolutely orthodox: faith in God’s will makes the crusaders certain of their moral superiority—but also of a very temporal victory.  The knights, after all, are the ones who initiate battle, in the belief that they are the ones carrying out God’s work.  Thus, cooperation between heaven and earth.  How lovely.

Just thought that was interesting; it’s a pretty good example, too, of the original justification for indulgences (something else the Protestants abhorred).  Indulgences were original created as an incentive for potential crusaders, or rather, an assuagement of their fear—otherwise, why would a man fight without being able to receive Extreme Unction and confess before he died (die with a mortal sin on you, and it’s straight to hell, buddy).  The theology behind the practice paralleled the crusading spirit itself: You do this for God, and he’ll reward you.  Again, cooperation.

And please remember to cite your sources, if you don’t want to end up in the eternal torment of the Saracens (because, naturally, they’re all going to hell, the heathens):

The Song of Roland. London: Penguin Books, 1990.