Tag Archives: Catholic Church

Intensities and associations in the end


Halfway through the afternoon Carla, Man and Narrator are sitting in the Vondelpark outside Het Blauwe Theehuis (The Blue Teahouse) [1].

Blauwe Theehuis[2]

“This morning I had mixed feelings about our proposal to start preparing the next part of our quest. On one hand, our proposal fits nicely with the overwhelming emptiness of the virtual digital world made of bits and monitors wherein we experience everyday world in our century; so I had noticed in the tram to the Vondelpark a mother giving her attention all the time to the 5 inch screen of her mobile phone instead of to her toddlers. On the other hand, in my opinion this part of our quest is not completely finished. In Florence – at the previous part of our quest – we had planned to give attention to the paintings in Holland. I also had in mind to address feelings, emotions, and the seven deadly sins according to Dante during this part of our quest. I am aware that these topics are quests in themselves. Maybe we can treat these topics in a nutshell, just like the treatment of capitalism this morning; I can nicely align the development of painting with the development of capitalism”, says Carla.

“You’re right. The transition is too abrupt, but the next few days it’s pretty stable weather for sailing: an opportunity not to let pass easily”, says Man.

“Could you summarise these subjects, so we can see how much attention will be needed”, says Narrator.

“Oil painting during and after the Reformation had boomed in Holland, because the inhabitants wanted to show their welfare within private homes – to themselves and to others – through images that showed landscapes designed by humans – as God’s steward –, paintings of tables displaying wealth of glassware, food and dishes and of course paintings of themselves and acquaintances in wealthy clothes. These paintings have characteristics of a desire to retain and acquire wealth. This way of looking, I have taken from John Berger’s “Ways of seeing” [3]; he shows a striking example of this display of prosperity with the painting “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews” by the English painter Thomas Gainsborough. Many of the oil paintings by Dutch masters include a similar display of wealth and prosperity of the individual human being.

Mr and Mrs Rober Andrews[4]

In addition to the display of wealth and prosperity, these paintings ought to show always some moderation as a good steward of God suits. Essentially, many paintings show the election by God in the here and now and in the afterlife of the owner or of the person portrayed. This is in a nutshell the summary of my contribution on traditional oil painting in Holland to intensities associations. I am aware that I have done injustice to many masterpieces”, says Carla.

“I have always felt some discomfort seeing paintings made by most Dutch masters. You have aptly summarised my discomfort”, says Man.

“As idol in Amsterdam, I paid no attention to painting, I lived a life as a desirable exotic – non-Dutch – appearance. I myself was the shining chosen star to which everyone was attracted and around which life revolved. After I had left behind this life as idol, I never had time for viewing the Dutch masters. After our sailing trip I will visit several museums”, says Narrator.

“Could you give a similar summary on the seven deadly sins according to Dante?”, asks Man to Carla.

“OK. As brief as my summary of oil paintings in Holland.
The seven deadly sins of the Catholic Church had already been described in a systematic overview by clerics in the fourth century AD. In the sixth century AD, these deadly sins had been officially defined in a list by Pope Gregory. This list was used by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy. Besides the Catholic church has seven virtues opposite to the seven deadly sins.
Vice[5]

Hieronymus Bosch had depicted the seven deadly sins in a painting [6].

Zeven hoofdzonden - Bosch
[7]

I will give a brief explanation of the seven deadly sins.

Lust is usually understood in the light of excessive thoughts, wishes or desires of a sexual nature. In Dante’s purgatory, sinners are purified of lustful/sexual thoughts and feelings by flames. In the hell of Dante sinners are blown by hurricane-like glowing winds that match their lack of self-control of lust in earthly life. During our search we have not encountered lust; in Aldous Huxly’s “Devil of Loudun” [8], lust as cardinal sin is treated: I think we can skip this cardinal sin during our quest.

Gluttony refers to both excessive eating and consuming things past the point of usefulness. Gluttony denotes waste by excessive energy: one of the pitfalls for God’s steward.
Greed/desire is a sin of excessiveness like lust and gluttony. Greed refers to a very excessive desire and a pursuit of wealth, status and power for personal gain: one of the pitfalls in the pursuit of success as a prelude to the grace of God.

Sloth has changed slightly in character in the course of the time. Initially it was seen as not fulfilling God’s gifts, talents and destination. Now it is seen as willfully negligence, e.g. of the duty of care for others, or for society. In my opinion sloth also implies the unwillingness to take notice and to be open to opinions or religions of others even if they do not comply with your own opinions or beliefs. This form of laziness consists of avoiding the question, “What is the other seen that I do not see?”.

Wrath or rage is the sin of excessive and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. In its extreme form, wrath shows itself as self-destruction. The feelings of anger and hatred may persist many generations. Wrath or anger is the only sin not necessarily associated with selfishness or self-interest.

Envy is to some extent related to greed: both sins are characterized by an inner unsatisfied desire. Envy and greed differ on two points. Firstly, greed is usually linked to material things, while envy is characterized by a more general feeling of loss. Secondly envy recognises something missing in itself that another has or seems to have.

In almost every list pride or arrogance – e.g. the opinion to be exclusively God’s elect as individual, as group or as a religion – is considered the most serious cardinal sin: it is seen as the source of the other deadly sins. Characteristics of pride or arrogance are the desire to be more, more important or more attractive than others; herewith the good works of others – in religions God’s works through other religions – are ignored. The sinner has an inordinate love of his own or of his own environment and/or religion. Dante described it as “love of the ego – in religions, one’s own faith – perverted to hatred and contempt for the other.”
This is in a nutshell the summary of the seven deathly sins”, says Carla.

“Again impressive in extension and brevity. During this introduction I must think – with shame – of my many shortcomings and mistakes in my life”, says Man.

“My most serious deadly sins had not been born out of pride or arrogance. Envy – caused by a general feeling of absence – during my puberty has encouraged me to become a child soldier with consequences that I still carry with me. My life as an idol in Amsterdam had come naturally to me; fortunately, I have left it in time away. Maybe laziness was the cause of my years at the edges of the mirror palaces of the intelligence services; although in this part of my life I had fulfilled my talents and destination given by God, I should have given more attention to the duty of care for others outside my small environment. My life as a mendicant – or Bhikṣu – has elements of envy in the form of a general lack: at that time I’ve tried to avoid cardinal sins”, says Narrator.

“Could you summarise in the same way the many forms of emotions and feelings, after we’ve had a drink?”, asks Man to Carla.

“There are many theories about emotions and there are different approaches to classify emotions [9]. The psycho-evolutionary theory of emotion by Robert Plutchik is interesting because this theory is based upon the following ten postulates [10]:

  1. The concept of emotion is applicable to all evolutionary levels and applies to all animals including humans.
  2. Emotions have an evolutionary history and have evolved various forms of expression in different species.
  3. Emotions served an adaptive role in helping organisms deal with key survival issues posed by the environment.
  4. Despite different forms of expression of emotions in different species, there are certain common elements, or prototype patterns, that can be identified.
  5. There is a small number of basic, primary, or prototype emotions.
  6. All other emotions are mixed or derivative states; that is, they occur as combinations, mixtures, or compounds of the primary emotions.
  7. Primary emotions are hypothetical constructs or idealized states whose properties and characteristics can only be inferred from various kinds of evidence.
  8. Primary emotions can be conceptualized in terms of pairs of polar opposites.
  9. All emotions vary in their degree of similarity to one another.
  10. Each emotion can exist in varying degrees of intensity or levels of arousal.

Based upon amongst others these ten postulates, Robert Plutchik composed in 1980 a wheel of emotions that consisted of the following eight basic – or biologically primitive – emotions, and eight more advanced – to increase the reproductive fitness of animals, such as the flight or fight response – emotions, each composed of two basic emotions.

Basic emotion[11]

The wheel of emotions composed by Robert Plutchik looks like:

Wheel of emotions - Robert Plutchik[11]

Recently – based on a comprehensive study of existing theories of emotions [12] – the following table is compiled from opposing basic emotions. In compiling this table, the following three criteria have been applied for emotions: 1) mental experiences with a strongly motivating subjective quality like pleasure or pain; 2) mental experiences that are a response to a particular event or object that is either real or imagined; 3) mental experiences that motivate particular kinds of behavior. The combination of these criteria distinguish emotions of sensations, feelings and moods [11].

Kind of emotion[11]

These basic overviews of feelings and emotions provide a good starting point for further exploration of these feelings, but I think a far-reaching exploration is beyond the scope of our quest. In so doing, Robert Plutchik stated in one of his works [13] that poets and writers capture and summarise the nuances of emotions and feelings better than scientists; he gave the example of how Emily Dickinson who had been raised in a Calvinist family [14] describes her feelings of despair – in my opinion the despair over a separate existence after God’s election at the end of time as close of this life and the hereafter [15] – in her poem[16]:

My life closed twice before it’s close
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event in me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Probably this poem also partly expresses the hope and despair of Calvinism with – at the end of time – an unimaginable separation equal in inconceivability to the separation of air from earth at the beginning of time. Is my summary on this topic sufficient?”, says Carla.

“Comprehensive in its brevity. Impressive use of the poem by Emily Dickinson at the end. Your explanation reminds me of the Buddhist question:

“When the fire at the end of time rages through and everything is destroyed, is this destroyed or not?” One master answered: “Destroyed, because it goes along with this”. Another master answered: “Not destroyed, because it is the same as this”. [17]

At the end of this part of our quest, I have the impression that the Calvinists in Holland – with their many secessions – lived as if the end of time has already come. All we know of heaven is parting from the loved ones who have another believe, and all we need of hell. The end of time will not bring change to this, “said Narrator.

“The poem by Emily Dickinson describes for me the inconceivability of the end times.
Looking at the wheel of emotions by Robert Plutchik I have noticed with gladness that joy is a combination of the two emotions optimism and love. Tracing all emotions and investigating all combinations of emotions is indeed beyond our quest. Are there other topics that we wish to investigate?”, says Man.

“I am fascinated by intensities and associations and I am often surprised by intensities and associations within our environment, in relation to the other and by my own emotions and feelings. The quest to investigate all these kind of feelings requires a full human life, “says Carla.

“In my opinion this is applicable to every part of our quest”, says Man.

“And surpasses our lives. Shall I prepare a simple meal for us in Man’s kitchen as the close of intensities and associations?”, says Narrator.

“Then we can consider during the meal where we meet tomorrow to travel to my sailboat. I can borrow a car from a former companion; he is a couple of weeks on holiday, “says Man.

 

 

[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blauwe_Theehuis
[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vondelpark
[3] Source: Berger, John, Ways of seeing. London: British Broadcasting Company and Penguin, 1972 p. 106 – 107
[4] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gainsborough
[5] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins
[6] Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Deadly_Sins_and_the_Four_Last_Things
[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins
[8] See: Huxley, Aldous, The Devils of Loudun. 1953
[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion_classification
[10] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Plutchik
[11] Copied from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrasting_and_categorization_of_emotions
[12] Source: Robinson, D. L. (2009). Brain function, mental experience and personality. The Netherlands Journal of Psychology, 64, 152-167
[14] Bron: http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/church
[15] Another explanation of this poem is based on the loss of two beloved ones. According to Christian faith before the Reformation a reunion may be expected at the end of time, but the explanation suggests that Immortality may be a fiction and creates the hell of the future. See: Vendler, Helen, Dickinson – Selected poems and commentaries. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010, p. 520 – 521
[16] Franklin, R.W. edited, The Poems of Emily Dickinson – Reading Edition. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 630 – 631
[17] Free rendering of the koan Dasui’s “Aeonic Fire” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 131 – 136

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Freedom and bound: a personal relationship with God


Carla, Man and Narrator meet each other in the Nieuwe Café near the Nieuw Kerk in Amsterdam.

“Personal relationships with Gods are of all time after in the distant past mankind and the Gods have received a place in each other’s lives. These relationships are not always easy and obvious; Gods and people regularly disappointed each other or let each other down.

The relationships between people and Gods varies – as all kinds of relationships – depending on the characters, circumstances and requirements between: absent and negligence, superficial and practical, purposeful and calculated, internalized and comprehensive, to intense and unbearable.

In the course of time human societies became larger, more complex and layered whereby also stratification in the concept of God has increased. Although the Supreme Gods play an aloof overarching role in the kingdoms or empires, the household gods or the pagan gods [1] still play the lead role in daily life of local communities. Many local farming communities have remained pagan in the eyes of the official churches [2].

Within the Catholic world, the local Saints have taken the position of the former local pagan gods. With its usual pragmatism the Catholic Church has assimilated local rituals and incorporated in its general habits, the church offers a large vessel which provides – under its terms and imposed limits – a place for church saints and local customs with their own rites [3].
For ordinary local people the Catholic God was – just as Jesus – an unattainable creature who, like distant rulers and armies just caused misfortune. The local clergy and rulers – each in their own way – should keep the Catholic God pleased. On passing through through South Limburg, I have heard a local alderman cry out in despair: “God in the Hague!!” upon a new Dutch rule. Pastoral letters from the Pope in Rome and the Bishop of the diocese are welcome if the content meets the local customs, but if the content does not fit then the local use continues – just a little less public or slightly customised –; the elderly know that over time all would once change in their own rhythm.

Especially women – and men occasionally after confession or during a church service – ask the Virgin Mary for help and consolation usually by praying the rosary: Mary was always more important and more helpful than the unattainable God [4].

Maagd Maria
[5]
The local saints exist in the material world: they are tangible, they are in the church and are carried in the processions: the local holy statue is the saint. As a result, parishioners are so upset when an old weathered statue is restored or replaced with new one from the factory. In the famous churches the statues of the saints attract two groups of visitors: parishioners and pilgrims who communicate with a real person / a better (or higher) being, and tourists who look at an example of religious art.

The personal relationship between the local saints and parishioners is mutual. The parishioners take care and venerate the saints, but sometimes the statue of the saint should also be flattered and bullied just as a lazy local administrator. When the local saint does not answer the prayers, the image can also be punished; there are examples of throwing in the river of statues or punishment like facing the wall of the statue [6].

The rulers maintain a reciprocal relationship with their gods; they receive advice, support and assistance in their activities, they keep the gods alive by expressing due honor to express and they explain the habits of the Gods – to mutual benefit – to their citizens.

Sometimes the relationship between the ruler and the gods becomes upsets. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Xerxes – king of the Persian Empire between 485 – 465 BC – punished the sea goddess of the Hellespont by flogging her waves with three hundred lashes and branding her with red hot irons after a storm had destroyed the cables which supported the boat bridge of about 1300 meters across the Hellespont [7].

Xerxes golven[8]

This morning we have very briefly seen how the Christian church has become the official state church of the Roman Empire practiced under Constantine the Great after the Edict of Milan in 313 AC. This evolution is based on at least two developments. The first development is the revolution of monotheism, as developed in Judaism more than 1,000 years earlier [9], and as adopted by Emperor Aurelius in 275 AC. in the form of the invincible Sun God ( Deus Sol Invictus ) taken from Syria after his victory in the East [10] . The monotheism of the Sun God was not absolute, whereby this faith was very convenient for Emperor Aurelius to adopt without hurting individual sensitivities of people. With all Roman citizens convened around this obvious national God, the second development took place: with the general acceptance of this obvious monotheistic God it was possible that the representative of the Sun God on earth was surrounded obvious supra-powerful features. This bond between the Sun God and his representative on earth was shown throughout the empire in images of both on coins, which represented “(barter) objects in the middle” that were guaranteed by the Sun-god and his earthly representative. The impact of this second development, we still have in our daily life with the name of the “Lord’s Day”: Sunday [11].

Munt zonnegod
[12]
At 324 AC Constantine the Great became ruler of the Roman Empire after he had defeated Licinius – ruler of the eastern part of the empire until then. Herewith Constantine created “One God , One Empire , One Emperor”. How Constantine had made the transition from the Sun God to the Christian God can no longer accurately be traced. With this gradual introduction, the administrative organization of the Roman Empire and the church organization were adapted to each other in the course of time. Within administrative units of the empire, a bishop was appointed as the head of the Church’s unit: “One God , One province, one representative of God”. By this development in parts of Europe, the ecclesiastical provinces still reflect the former provinces of the Roman Empire. According to the history books this development took place relatively smoothly , but in practice often an iron fist was applied whereby many battles and internal strife over the secular and ecclesiastical power have been fought [13].

The Old Testament often shows an angry – and sometimes rancorous – God when his people have let him down again and again or his people has been unfaithful to the covenant. After the emergence of the “One God, One Empire, One ruler” directly connected with “One God, One Church, One regional representative”, the conservation of the ruler / representative and church / empire require all attention, so the position of a monotheistic God as Supreme God was no longer an issue. Religious disputes aimed at on one hand the extent to which the monotheistic Roman Father God was Almighty and the positions of the universe of heavenly entities – Christ, The Holy Spirit, Mary, the saints and angels, etc. – with and around God, and on other hand the relationship between humanity and the world with God, his universe, the origin and end of it. Shall we enter the New Church?”, says Narrator.

Carla, Narrator and Man enter the Church. They stand at the pulpit.

“Wonderful introduction. On seeing this pulpit, I have to interrupt you, because this pulpit reminds me of the tent of Alexander the Great after his death in which he still ensured order and unity from his throne.

preekstoel Nieuwe Kerk[14]
Briefly: Alexander the Great left after his death in 323 BC a vast empire that reached over the whole civilized world from Greece, Egypt, just beyond the Indus River in the east. During his life, Alexander the Great – with his immense charisma, his policy of divide and rule, his reward for loyalty and his ruthless revenge on unfaithful – was the sole binding factor with an almost divine status [15]. Without a clearly appointed successor after his untimely death, a ruthless power struggle soon began between (alleged) pretenders and supporters. Within a short time most of Alexander’s direct pretenders – women and children – were murdered; also women took part in the mutual slaughter of each other and each other’s children.

The actual battle for his succession was conducted within Alexander’s small circle of confidants – who alternately had assumed the role of general, comrades and executors – and various local rulers, whom Alexander the Great had left as guardians of parts of his empire during his triumph.

One of Alexander’s confidants was his secretary Eumenes – an outsider and foreigner of Greek origin – who had played an increasingly important role during the succession in which he had primarily fulfilled the role as protector of the mother and only surviving son of Alexander. In this struggle Eumenes had proved an outstanding military strategist and tactician, and he won most battles, but otherwise he missed all the good and bad qualities of Alexander in charisma and revenge, while he had also remained a stranger to the Macedonians. At the moment he had to make a unity between different factions within the army, including the headstrong and self-confident Silver Shields – the never defeated elite troops that Alexander had inherited from his father Philip II and who had given him many victories in his triumph; many were already over 60 years old – Eumenes had decided to bring the ghost of Alexander back to life. He told the commanders of the troops who were entrusted to him that Alexander had appeared to him in a dream and had given him the order to let all commanders appear before Alexander’s throne in a tent for deliberation. The commanders had accepted this proposal. Eumenes had ordered to cast the throne from gold of the royal treasury and he placed on it Alexander’s scepter and diadem in a tent. All commanders had brought honours to the empty throne by burning incense to him – the Ghost of Alexander on the throne. Eumenes had promised that as long as they met as council before the throne and accepted orders from him , then Alexander would be present and guide them in their decisions. After Eumenes and the commanders had accepted this way of decision-making, the mutual tension was significantly decreased. Obviously Eumenes had the most input during the deliberation [16]. Almost Eumenes had managed to secure the throne for the family of Alexander, but in the decisive final battle the opponent had conquered the baggage train with women and possessions of the Silver Shields. A faction of the Silver Shields had finally chosen for their belongings and they had delivered Eumenes with a list to his opponent. First, the opponent did not dare to kill Eumenes out of respect, but later he gave this command. The Invincible Silver Shields were dissolved, the commander was killed and the individual infantrymen received in remote areas impossible tasks that they usually did not survive. All this time the Ghost on the throne had led them in this turbulent period in taking decisions and had led them to victories when they remained faithful to the decisions [17].

Upon seeing this pulpit, I notice the similarity with the tent of Alexander and a Ghost on the throne”, says Carla.

“Fascinating addition. Shall we continue with this topic this evening”, says Narrator.
“That is good”, says Man.

[1] “Pagan Gods” is derived from Gods of the pagus or pays. Pagus means in Latijn: village
[2] Trouillez, Pierre, Bevrijd en gebonden – De Kerk van Constantijn (4e en 5e eeuw n. Chr.). Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2006, p. 50
[3] See e.g.: Robb, Graham, The discovery of France. London: Picador, 2007, Chapter 7: Fairies, Virgins, Gods and Priests.
[4] See also: Robb, Graham, The discovery of France. London: Picador, 2007, Chapter 7: Fairies, Virgins, Gods and Priests and Histoire de la Vie privée. Tome 3: De la Renaissance aux Lumière. Red. Ariès, Philippe & Duby, George. Chapter 1 (p. 85 from the Dutch version)
[5] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosaire
[6] Source: Robb, Graham, The discovery of France. London: Picador, 2007, p. 133 – 134
[7] See: Herodotus 7.35 en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerxes’_Pontoon_Bridges
[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Xerxes_lash_sea.JPG
[9] See amongst others: Potok, Chaim, Omzwervingen, ‘s-Gravenhage: BZZTôH 1999 and Schama, Simon, De geschiedenis van de Joden – Deel 1: De woorden vinden 1000 v.C. – 1492. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Atlas Contact, 2013
[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus
[11] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zondag and Trouillez, Pierre, Bevrijd en gebonden – De Kerk van Constantijn (4e en 5e eeuw n. Chr.). Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2006, p. 30
[12] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus
[13] See also: MacCulloch, Diarmond, Christianity – The first three thousand Years. New York: Viking, 2010, Part II “One Church, One Faith, One Lord?”and Trouillez, Pierre, Bevrijd en gebonden – De Kerk van Constantijn (4e en 5e eeuw n. Chr.). Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2006, Chapters II and III
[14] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nieuwe_Kerk_(Amsterdam)
[15] See also: Lane Fox, Robin, Alexander de Grote, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers, 2005
[16] Source: Romm, James, Ghost on the Thone – The death of Alexander the Great and the war for crown and empire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. p. 220-221, 235
[17] See: Romm, James, Ghost on the Thone – The death of Alexander the Great and the war for crown and empire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Chapter 10

Iconoclasm and the word


Before the tourist flow will start, Carla, Man and Narrator visit the Begijnhof in Amsterdam. They are looking at the Sacred Heart statue in the middle of the lawn.
Begijnhof Amsterdam[1]
Begijnhof - Heilighartbeeld[2]
“This Begijnhof – founded before 1346 AC in the Middle Ages – is the only inner court that exist in the Amsterdam within the Singel. Originally the Begijnhof was entirely surrounded by water with the Nieuwezijdsvoorburgwal, Spui and Begijnensloot; the only access was a bridge over the Begijnensloot at Begijnensteeg. The Begijnhof was not a retirement provision founded by private individuals; it was a sort of nunnery – with patron saint St. Ursula – where beguines lived with more freedom. They had made a vow of chastity and they had felt obliged to daily visit Holy Mass and to perform prayers during fixed moment every day, but they were allowed to leave the inner court at any time to get married.

After the Alteration in 1578 AC – wherein the Catholic administration in Amsterdam was replaced by a Calvinist administration – the Begijnhof was the only Roman Catholic institution that was allowed to continue its existence because the houses were private property of the beguines. The chapel, however, was closed to be allocated in 1607 AC to the English Presbyterian church in Amsterdam. Since that time, the chapel is named the English Reformed Church [3].

In September 1898, Piet Mondrian – an iconoclast in modern art – was commissioned to make four wooden relief panels for the pulpit in the English Reformed [4]. It is interesting to see the development in the work of Piet Mondrian; starting with these panels in the pulpit, via the painting of the tree in gray/blue, to abstract paintings with coloured surfaces, to – like Gerrit Rietveld – determine the painting with white, perhaps because he was one of the few who wished to create paintings by undistorted light. After his iconoclasm Piet Mondrian had kept to the strict rules of abstract paintings according Neoplasticism [5] and he only used horizontal and vertical lines to divide the surface of the painting; lines that enclose and lines that exclude, although in the last paintings both lines no longer enclose and exclusion. Piet Mondrian never used diagonal lines like Theo van Doesburg [6].
Preekstoel - Engelse Kerk - Mondriaan[7]
Boom Mondriaan[8]
Schilderij vlakken Mondriaan[9]
Schilderij Grijs Wit Mondriaan[10]

Via this contemporary iconoclasm by “De Stijl” movement, it may be good to continue with your introduction of iconoclasm of more than 2500 years ago”, says Narrator.

Carla, Man and Narrator sit against the wall around the lawn in the Begijnhof.

“Thanks you for this fascinating introduction to the Begijnhof and its history. Before I will start with the iconoclasm of 2500 years ago in the early Jewish history, I would like to bring to mind Moses’ effort to get the One – Yahweh – recognised as the only God without a picture by the Jewish people. After Moses had receive the Ten Commandments from the One (written with the finger of Yahweh) – including the first two commandments: “I am the eternal God and Thou shalt have no other gods before me” – and returned again to his people, he saw the chosen people worshiping a golden calf: the chosen people had completely forgotten Yahweh. Furiously Moses threw the tables of the Ten Commandments in pieces. Hereafter he had to climb the mountain again to receive new tables of the covenant from the One. These tables were carried in the ark of the covenant; probably the ark was destroyed in the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem [11]. Since that time, the tables of the covenant including the first books of the Tanakh [12] are carried as Torah [13] by a Jewish community on a roll – made of parchment from the skin of a kosher animal – wherever they go. The text of the Torah is overwritten and copied by hand on parchment for every Jewish community wherever they live. Because of these roles the covenant with the One is no longer physically bound to the original tables in an ark of the covenant.
Thorarollen[14]
Around 600 BC the first temple in Jerusalem – built around 1000 BC under the reign of King Solomon – had been destroyed and a large part of the chosen people had been taken to Babylon in three groups between 597 and 582 BC. A small group of the people had remained and they lived as shepherds among the ruins of Jerusalem [15]. A generation later, the part of the chosen people in Babylon could return to Jerusalem, and many of them returned. With the group that had stayed behind in Babylon, a close relationship remained that almost two thousand years later is still in place, because after the chosen people spread all over the earth, the descendants of this group staying behind in Babylon were still consulted on the interpretation of religious matters. After the return of the exiles the rebuilding of the new smaller – second – Temple started in Jerusalem; this second temple had been finished in 515 BC. At that time, there was a high degree of literacy among the chosen people in Palestine; this is shown in correspondence between Jewish soldiers and their officers from that period [16].

In 445 BC Jerusalem – with the second new temple – is still a city of half-ruined walls where people lived among the weeds and the rubble. In that year Nehemia – the deputy governor of the Persian king – decided to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem; walls that enclose and walls that exclude. During the construction, the weapons were ever ready to repel sudden attacks of opponents; trowel in one hand, sword in the other hand.

After the building of the walls had finished, all the chosen people gathered one month later – in the seventh month of the year – near the restored Watergate. The chosen people asked Ezra – the high priest and scribe – to get the Torah including the law of Moses. Before the gathered crowd in Jerusalem, Ezra opened the Torah and everyone stood up. The native language of many of the attendees was Aramaic; during the reading of the Hebrew text of the law of Moses, the Levites [17] – the tribe of my ancestors [18] – gave explanation in order that the people understood the text. The next day Ezra, the Levites and Elders assembled to study the Law. They read that in the seventh month of the year, the chosen people had to build tabernacles. Hereafter the chosen people gathered foliage from the environment to build huts [19]. A month later, the chosen people entered a new covenant with the One; a covenant that connects and a covenant that excludes. Herewith the chosen people promised to read these laws regularly and they committed themselves to maintain the covenant including e.g. the commandment to refrain from marriages with outsiders .

This call of the chosen people to read the laws was a revolution in the ancient Near East, where usually the people were called by rulers to hear the power, the sacred majesty and the words of the local king, and to worship the king and his images.

The worship of the chosen people was centred around scrolls with words; it was a worship without a king, and it was a covenant within the whole community of the chosen people with the One. Through this public reading, the old habit of loudly reciting the Torah at fixed times was restored and today this practice is still carried out by the chosen people [20].

This iconoclasm of more than 2500 years ago is very similar to the iconoclasm of 1566 AC during the Reformation in the western part of the Netherlands. In 1566 AC on Walcheren in the dunes of Dishoek the first so-called “hedge sermon” [21 ] took place in the open air. From that moment, and the next few years many sermons had been held in the open air held by Protestants since overt religious practice outside the Catholic Church had been banned. Partly because of these sermons and the reading of the Bible itself – the Holy book given to chosen people by the One – created a mutual bond between believers. They would have experienced this as a worship without a king and as renewed covenant between the One and the whole community whereby they surely had read the book of Nehemiah about the covenant between the One and the chosen people 2000 years before. And still in Reformed families in the western part of the Netherland a next passage from the Bible is read at every meal; this usage is derived from the Reformation in the western part of the Netherlands, but it is also a result of the renewed covenant that the chosen people entered with the One more than 2,500 years ago”, says Man.

“With this explanation of the iconoclasm from the Jewish history in relation to the iconoclasm in the Golden Age of Holland, you fulfil the role of the Levites again; the same role that your ancestors had fulfilled 2500 years ago. Obviously at that time this covenant had been a revolution as far as a commitment to the One concerned, but I have my reservations about the walls that enclose and the walls that exclude. A revolution that wishes to separate the elect from outsiders and/or dissenters is of all time. According to Bakunin [22], many revolutionaries become worse than the former ruler after a short time. How did this revolution of 2500 years ago via a renewed covenant with the One continue?”, asks Carla.

“Nature flows where is cannot flow anymore. This also applies to my role as a Levite [23]; this certainly applies to the development and the continuation of the renewal of the covenant with the One. Less than a month later, a document of this covenant had been prepared containing a large number of provisions , including the names of the elect, marrying within their own circle, and exclusion of populations in the vicinity [24]. In the western part of the Netherlands, the Reformation had followed a similar path . In London in 1550 AC the first Reformed church service had been held; in Emden in northern Germany a first Synod had been held; then in Dordrecht during the Eighty Years’ War– whereby several key persons could not be present – the two Synods of 1574 and 1578 AC had been held, and in Middelburg in 1581 and in The Hague in 1586 AC two other Synods had followed. These Synods had aimed at mutual agreement within the Reformed churches, but also to ward off foreign elements; also here walls that enclose and walls that exclude. During the pillarisation after the time of Napoleon, faith groups married in their own circles and lived in their own circles. During the school struggles in the 19th century there has been fought hard for freedom of education within their circles with an equal financial footing by the Government; this freedom of education – and equality in public financial contribution of private schools with public education – is enshrined in the Constitution of the Netherlands [25].

Due to my life course, I could never feel at home at religious walls that enclose and exclude; I have always sought and found the interconnectedness – with hope and consolation [26] – of the many ways of religion”, says Man.

“Not intentionally, but intuitively I have asked you to visit this Begijnhof as a way of interconnectedness within the separation in history between Catholic Beguines and the English Presbyterian church in the Protestant area of Amsterdam”, says Narrator.

“Shall we visit both churches?”, says Man.

“That is good”, say Carla and Narrator.

________________________________________

[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begijnhof_(Amsterdam)
[2] Sacred Heart statue made by Johannes Petrus Maas in 1920 AC in the middle of the lawn in the Begijnhof in Amsterdam. Due to the pillarisation in the Nederland at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century these statues were allowed within their own circle. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heilig_Hartbeeld_(Amsterdam)
[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Reformed_Church,_Amsterdam
[4] Source for the description of the Begijnhof in Amsterdam: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begijnhof_(Amsterdam) en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begijnhof,_Amsterdam
[5] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nieuwe_Beelding
[6] Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theo_van_Doesburg
[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engelse_Hervormde_Kerk_(Amsterdam)
[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piet_Mondrian
[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piet_Mondrian
[10] Source image: http://www.dekunsten.net/01+.html (fair use)
[11] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence, Part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 104 – 106 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ark_of_the_Covenant
[12] The Bible of the Jews. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanakh
[13] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah
[14] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thora
[15] Source: Potok, Chaim, Omzwervingen, ‘s-Gravenhage: BZZTôH 1999, p. 175 – 182
[16] Source: Schama, Simon, De geschiedenis van de Joden – Deel 1: De woorden vinden 1000 v.C. – 1492. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Atlas Contact, 2013, p. 81, 82
[17] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levite
[18] The original name of Man Leben is Levi Hermann. See: Drift, Carla, Man Leben – One life. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 127 – 129
[19] See: Nehemia 7,72-8,18 from the Tanakh
[20] Source: Schama, Simon, De geschiedenis van de Joden – Deel 1: De woorden vinden 1000 v.C. – 1492. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Atlas Contact, 2013, p. 59, 60
[21] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagenpreek
[22] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Bakunin
[23] See also: Drift, Carla, Man Leben – One life. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 127 – 128
[24] See: Nehemia 9 – 13 from the Tanakh
[25] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_struggle_(Netherlands)
[26] Last words in de film “Offret – The Sacrifice” by Andrei Tarkovsky

Iconoclasm


Mid-afternoon Carla and Man are seated on bench before Atheneum bookshop on the Spui in Amsterdam near “Het Lieverdje” [1].
Spui_Amsterdam[2]
“Were we not too outspoken in our opinion on the Reformation and the schisms in the Reformed church in Netherlands during and after the second world war in our discussion this morning?”, asks Man to Carla.

“On our quest we have arrived at intensities and associations and at the Reformation of the Christian faith; This is not a gentle topic.

During the Reformation, a Eighty Years’ War of independence had raged in Holland with all the characteristics of a religious war. Every war is terrible – although I know least one author who is not averse to a good fight [3] – also a war of independence and a religious war. In the first half of the twentieth century a modus vivendi was established with the pilarisation [4] between the separate religious groups in the Netherlands. The schism in the Dutch Reformed Church of 1944 did not cause bloodshed, but the separation was no less painful and inevitable for those involved. There is Narrator”, says Carla.

“Shall we walk to the Begijnhof and continue with the iconoclasm there”, says Narrator.
“This afternoon during my rest hour I read the following paragraphs [5] on iconoclasm in “The prophets” by Abraham Joshua Heschel that I have borrowed from Man:
Marc_Chagall_Isaiah[6]

The prophet is an iconoclast, challenging the apparently holy, revered, and awesome. Beliefs cherished as certainties, institutions endowed with supreme sanctity, he exposes as scandalous pretentions.

The prophet knew that religion could distort what the One demanded of man, that priests themselves had committed perjury by bearing false witness, condoning violence, tolerating hatred, calling for ceremonies instead of bursting forth with wrath and indignation at cruelty, deceit, idolatry and violence.

And:

To the people, religion was Temple, priesthood, incense. Such piety the prophet brands as fraud and illusion. [7]

These paragraphs are from the description “What manner of man is the prophet”. Next to a ”rebel” [8], the prophet is a man with a sensitivity for the evil that is expressed brightly and explosively – preferably an octave too high – in rigor and compassion; the prophet wants to change the apathy of the others into a pathos with a direct connection to the One – or God in our language.
Profeet[9]
I think the Protestants in Holland had studied the texts of the Old Testament on the prophets and they had derived therefrom an engagement to regaining the sense of a true faith from the early days of Christianity”, says Carla.

“I am certain that the Protestants knew the text regarding the cleansing of the Temple by Jesus from the Gospel of John:

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found livestock traders and moneychangers. Jesus drove the livestock traders with their sheep and cattle out of the temple, he threw the money of the changers on the ground and overturned their tables and shouted: “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then responded to him: “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”. Jesus answered them: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied: “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”. But the temple Jesus had spoken of was his body. [10]

At the temple of his body, I think of “et incarnatus est [11]” from the Credo.
In the first half of the 16th century, the churches were places of devotion stuffed with devotional objects that each had its group of supporters in the local population. Some devotional objects were relics of saints whereupon the status and value of churches was based. For example, the St. Peter’s Basilica was built on the site where according to tradition the tomb of St. Peter – one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and for the Catholics the first pope – could be located. Between 1940 and 1949 excavations had been conducted under the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica uncovering a tomb with the presumed bones of Peter. This claim cannot be scientifically substantiated [12].

With the widespread use of literate information by the rise of the printing press, the always lingering doubts about the authenticity of the relics changed in a simmering uncertainty and sometimes in a proof of inauthenticity of the origin of these devotional objects located in devotion sites.

Within the Catholic Church the role of saints had many similarities with the position of former local Gods. Because the believers began to study the Bible themselves, the role of these saints – including their prominent place in the local churches – was questioned.
The forces against the iconoclasm were not only caused by the Catholic clergy, but also by the (wealthy) individuals and groups that had provided donations to the creation of statues of saints and to images of religious events in paintings on walls and ceilings and in the church windows.

In the course of the 16th century the people’s devotion to saints and devotional objects changed to an outright rejection of these forms of belief in some parts of Europe – mostly in areas just outside the border of the Roman Empire more than 1,000 years ago. In 1535, a iconoclasm took place in Geneva. After seditious sermons the altars in the church had been destroyed and the church windows smashed; later young people had taken the remaining devotional objects from the church [13]. Previously there had already occurred an iconoclasm in 1522 in Wittenberg, in 1523 in Zürich, in 1530 in Copenhagen, in 1534 in Münster; and later in 1537 in Augsburg, in 1559 in Scotland [14].

The iconoclastic in 1523 in Zürich had been initiated by Ulrich Zwingli – prophet, dictator and champion of purity of the church that in his opinion shall be traced to the Bible and partly based on the reason according to Erasmus – who almost simultaneously and in imitation of Luther in Germany had begun a Reformation in Zürich. Zwingli’s revolt was initiated by social injustice in Switzerland – including young men who had to perform military service as mercenary for foreign powers – and altered social relations with an emerging literate citizenry and a peasantry who wanted greater independence from the governors. In 1519 Zwingli opposed the indulgences in the Catholic Church, and from 1520 he left the Catholic Church. In 1522 he had married Anna Reinhard in secret – a young widow with three children – who was known for her beauty , faith and allegiance to the Reformation. On April 2, 1524 Zwingli had married her in a public service, whereupon they had received four children between 1526 and 1530. Zwingli’s radical followers took advantage of the situation in Zürich to remove the statues and icons from the church, to change the liturgy and to simplify the Mass. By the end of 1524, the monasteries in Zürich were abolished. By Zwingli the entire church doctrine and religious ceremonies in Zürich were brought in accordance with the bible. Zwingli had issued a ban on interest on loans and usury. Opponents of Zwingli could count on a relentless persecution. From 1526 to 1531 Zwingli ‘s translation of the Bible – the Froschauer Bible – was printed . On Thursday in Holy Week in 1525 the Eucharist was celebrated according to Zwingli’s new liturgy. For the first time the men and women sat on opposite sides in the church along a long table on which stood bread on wooden plates and wine in wooden cups. The difference with the Catholic Holy Mass was enormous. For Zwingli and his followers the bread and wine refers – even after the consecration – to the body and blood of Christ; communion is a confession of a symbolic union with Christ. Communion in the liturgy of Zwingli is a memorial celebration similar to the Jewish Passover [15]. Hereby Zwingli differs fundamentally from the Catholic Church wherein the bread and wine during the consecration through transubstantiation [16] change in the body and blood of Christ. Herewith Zwingli also differs fundamentally from Luther and Melanchthon who believed in a form of consubstantiation [17] in which Christ is present during the celebration of the communion by (or in addition to) the bread and wine.
Avondmaal[18]

Zwingli succeeded in letting Zurich declare war to the Roman Catholic cantons in Switzerland hoping to spread the Reformation throughout Switzerland; he dreamed of a Swiss / German alliance against the Habsburg Holy Roman Catholic Empire. In October 1531 the Catholic cantons committed a joint attack on Zürich. Due to the suddenness of the attack, the Protestants were hardly ready to defend themselves. Zwingli had led the way with sword and helmet in the Protestant army. In Kappel the army of Zurich was finally defeated and the Peace of Kappel was signed. Zwingli himself was slain in battle, his body quartered, burned and his ashes mixed with manure [19].
Zwingli_gedood[20]

The iconoclasm that had raged over North France and the Western Netherlands in the late summer until October 1566, began on August 10, 1566 in Steenvoorde (today’s Northern France) where the images in a monastery were destroyed [21]. In these three months many churches were violated and the interior destroyed. The intensification of contradictions that amongst others became visible through this iconoclastic, indirectly led to the outbreak of the Eighty Years’ War and the emergence of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.
Beeldenstorm[22]

In Zeeland in the Netherland, the route of the iconoclastic can be followed to some extent. On August 22 in 1566 the first church buildings were destroyed in Middelburg. The citizens of Middelbug went to Buttinge, Poppendamme, Arnemuiden, to the monastery in Aagtekerke near Serooskerke, to the monastery Sint-Jan ten Heere under Domburg. From Veere and Vlissingen iconoclasts were on their way to the rural communities and the rural churches of Walcheren were destroyed. The citizen of Vlissingen performed demolitions in Oost Souburg, West Souburg Koudekerke Biggekerk, Zoutelande and Oud-Vlissingen. [23].

This iconoclasm in the western part of the Netherlands was an expression of dissatisfaction with the obsolete social relationship in society and religion. At the same time the iconoclasm was the start of the Eighty Years’ War [24] – a terrible and inevitable revolt against the then Spanish king of the Western Netherlands – and the beginning of the first modern Republic”, says Narrator.

“Shall we visit the Begijnhof tomorrow?“, asks Carla.

“Good idea. Tomorrow we may continue with the iconoclasm. I would like to highlight a iconoclasm of 2000 years earlier in Jewish history. I think that iconoclasm also influenced the emergence of Protestantism. Shall we have a drink in the pub across the street”, says Man.
________________________________________

[1] At “Het Lieverdje” in Amsterdam started the Provo movement in the 1960s. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provo_(movement)

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spui_(Amsterdam)

[3] See Introduction in: Creveld, Martin van, The Culture of War. New York: Ballantine Books, 2008

[4] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verzuiling

[5] See: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, De Profeten, Vught: Skandalon, 2013, p. 38

[6] Image of Isaiah – a painting by Marc Chagall – on the cover of the Dutch edition of “The Prophets” by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Source image: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/marc-chagall/prophet-isaiah-1968 (see “fair use” on this website)

[7] See also: Jeremia 7:4

[8] See also: Camus, Albert, The Rebel.

[9] Painting by Benjamin West Isaiah’s Lips Anointed with Fire. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophet

[10] Free rendering of: John’s Gospel 2:13-21

[11] Strophe from: “Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto (en hij is vlees geworden uit de Heilige Geest)

[12] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_Necropolis

[13] Source: Fernández – Armesto, Felipe & Wilson, Derek, Reformatie – Christendom en de wereld 1500 – 2000, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Anthos, 1997, p.122, 123

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeldenstorm

[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover

[16] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transubstantiation

[17] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consubstantiation

[18] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consubstantiation

[19] Sources: Fernández – Armesto, Felipe & Wilson, Derek, Reformatie – Christendom en de wereld 1500 – 2000, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Anthos, 1997, p. 131, Vries, Theun de, Ketters – Veertien eeuwen ketterij, volksbeweging en kettergericht. Amsterdam: Querido, 1987, p. 575 – 582 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huldrych_Zwingli

[20] See banner with image of Maria. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huldrych_Zwingli

[21] Source: Noordzij, Huib, Handboek van de Reformatie – De Nederlandse kerkhervorming in de 16e en de 17e eeuw. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Kok, 2012, p. 414

[22] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeldenstorm

[23] See also: http://www.regiocanons.nl/zeeland/vensters-op-zeeuws-erfgoed/tachtigjarige-oorlog

[24] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighty_Years%27_War

The Oude kerk in Amsterdam – a church on the move


The next morning Carla, Man and Narrator drink coffee at the Nieuwmarkt near the Waag in Amsterdam.

“Yesterday evening I thought of Yunmen’s [1]: “The monks hall, the Church, the kitchen, and the monastery gate” to his question: ”What is each and every person’s radiant light?[2], when I read the the statement by the Polish Cardinal Hosius [3] – attending the Council of Trent [4] that had taken place with several intervals between 1545 and 1663 AC to find an answer within the Catholic Churcht on the Reformation – about the Bible: “If the Church did not exist, then the bible was as unbelievable as the tales of Aesopus” [5]. During this Council the decision had been taken that the revelation from the Holy Scriptures can only exists together with the tradition of the Church, whereby the Latin Vulgate Translation [6] of the bible – an adapted rendering in Vulgar Latin from 400 AC – should be the standard text of the Holy Scripture for the Catholics. What answer might Yunmen have given to Cardinal Hosius?”, asks Carla.

“I think an answer similar to the comment on this Buddhist question: “Even if the Church and the Bible are the ancestors of Buddha, they cannot avoid being each and every person””, says Man.

““The Universe – including the Church and the Bible – embody the radiant light [7], people of immeasurable greatness are tossed in the ebb and flow of words [8]”, and as hard-handed Zen master Yunmen will pinch the nose of the questioner – and hereby himself and the entire universe – with the words: “Look the radiant light – work hard to the enlightenment of all and everyone”. Shall we visit the Oude Kerk”, says Narrator.

Oude Kerk Amsterdam 1[9]

Carla, Man and Narrator walk via the Monnikensteeg and the Oudekennissteeg to the bridge near the Oudekerkplein at the Oudezijdsachterburgwal.

“In the first half of the thirteenth century a small wooden chapel with a graveyard had stood on the site of the Oude Kerk. In the second half of the thirteenth century this wooden chapel had been replaced by a stone hall church. This church had probably belonged to the Church parish of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. Starting from 1334 AC, Amsterdam got its own parish with at this place the parish church dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors. In the beginning of the 15th century AC a new parish had been started in the western part of Amsterdam with a new parish Church. From that time both parts of Amsterdam were named Oudekerkszijde and Nieuwekerkszijde, or abbreviated with the Oude- and Nieuwezijde. For the time being the Oude Kerk remained the main church of Amsterdam. Over time, the Oude Kerk had been rebuilt and enlarged many times: this can be seen clearly from here. In 1655 the cemetery around the old church had been cleared. Herewith the nowadays Oudekerksplein around the Oude Kerk was created [10]. Shall we enter the Church?”, says Narrator.

768px-Amsterdam_oude_kerk2[11]

Carla, Man and Narrator enter the church.

“Upon hearing your introduction I was reminded of a reference to a quotation of Herakleitos [12] in a book with work of the architect Aldo van Eyck [13]; freely rendered: “You cannot enter the same Church twice”, says Man.

“During the iconoclasm of 1566 AC in Amsterdam the altars of the Oude Kerk were damaged. After the Alteration of 1578 AC – whereby the Catholic administration in Amsterdam had been deposited – the Church was redecorated for the Protestant worship. From 1584 to 1611 AC – the year wherein the Beurs of Hendrick de Keyser was opened at the Rokin – the Oude Kerk had served as a hall of exchange for traders. From 1632 AC the Church Council meetings had alternately taken place in the Oude Kerk and the Nieuwe Kerk. After the construction of the Town Hall on the Dam, the Nieuwe Kerk became more important and became finally the main church. From 1951, the Oude Kerk had been restored during 24 years, because danger of collapse threatened due to problems with the foundation. In 1994/1998 the Church had been restored again. This is in a nutshell the history of the old church”, says Narrator.

“Before the iconoclastic the Oude Kerk must have been full – or maybe overcrowded – with images of Christ, Mary and Saints for invoking support, courage and comfort in fearful times. The walls and ceilings must have been full with paintings as sermons in paint. Now with these white walls, I am reminded of a sentence by Aldo van Eyck from an article about the work of Gerrit Rietveld: “Since his Style-period, Gerrit Rietveld has usually avoided active colour and has bounded his spaces with ‘white’, perhaps because he was one of the few to create space not so much by material boundaries but by the shaping of light [14]”. Is the Church room the radiant light in the Oude Kerk ?”, says Man.

Oude Kerk Amsterdam 3.jpg[15]

“This is a good comparison with the art movement “de Stijl”: this movement can be seen as a recent iconoclasm and rebellion against an excessive and overly visual imagery of the Amsterdam school as we can see in the Scheepvaarhuis at the Prins Hendrikkade.

Scheepvaarthuis Amsterdam[16]

Scheepvaarthuis Amsterdam 2[17]

“As possibly Gerrit Rietveld – during his Style-period – had avoided boundaries through walls, images and painted colours, so during and after the Reformation the Protestants did not accept imagery – as comics for the uneducated – symbols and ancient practices of the Catholic Church anymore as a bridge with the eternal light of God and his revelations in the Holy Scriptures. They would like to have the possibility of direct access to God’s grace and they wished to explore his revelations by themselves. But like many small innovative communities, the church communities must face the dilemma of the transfer of the renewal to posterity. By perpetuating the transfer of the true original renewal to the offspring, the communities often inclined to a strict internal discipline with an authoritarian oppression.

During the singing of church hymns – sung by the entire congregation lustily – they would initially not be hindered by musical instruments. Later the churches noticed that an organ is sensible to connect the singing of the Church community. In the Old Church the church organ is regularly updated and expanded. This afternoon I would like to come back to the iconoclasm. Shall we go outside now”, says Narrator.

Oude Kerk Amsterdam 4.jpg.png[18]

“This innovation in religion and in political system has a downside of an unrestrained commercialism and a nearly boundless urge for conquest and conversion. I would like to come back to this subject”, says Carla.

Carla, Man and Narrator leave the Oude Kerk.

“The Oude Kerk is probably the only Church in the world where the church square is almost exclusively surrounded by brothels. This fact is honoured with a statue “Belle” with the tekst: “Respect sex workers all over the world” [19] . Everywhere I see “Belle” on my way, I am reminded of Matthew 21:23 where Jezus says: “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you”. And when I see or hear disapproval about whores, I thinking of the Buddhist question Chao Chou’s [20] Supreme Way: “The Supreme Way is not difficult, it simply dislikes choosing”. [21]

Oudekerkplein Belle Amsterdam[22]

In 1993, an anonymous artist had place a sculpture in the pavement of the square depicting a hand holding a female breast”, says Narrator.

Oudekerkplein Amsterdam[23]

“When I hear God’s Kingdom, I am reminded of my elementary school time in South Limburg. At that time – during the second world war – it came as it came, it was like it was and it went as it went. In the Catholic Church the pastor sang with a creaky voice “Credo in unum Deum [24]”, whereafter the choir continued with the beautifully sung “Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium [25]”. The men – if they went to church – played their card game in the back of the Church or they heard Mass in the portal; usually their church attendance remained limited to four times a year. Only at Christmas, Easter – the men had confessed a few days earlier so they could go to communion –, before the great procession and with all Saints’ and all Souls’ day the Church was completely full. During the consecration [26] indicated with three times the clinging of bells, everyone was silent; after the consecration the Church began to come back to life with the murmur of people.

During my high school years – after my move with my aunt to Rotterdam – I went to a Reformed Church. The whole Church sang passionately: “Thine be the glory”; the sermons were carefully listened to and at home after the church service the sermon was discussed. The intensity with which one in Holland confessed faith corresponded to the full commitment whereby one fought against the water: pump or drown. With the same intensity and fear of God the true faith – to the letter and to the spirit – was looked for and confessed.

In South Limburg the pastor or chaplain took confession behind a closed door; after the confession followed by several Our Fathers and Holy Marys in the Church – one of my classmate had once got a turn around the ears by the pastor – almost all human sins were forgiven, and through the communion the sinner was again included in the large vessel of the Catholic Church and thus in God’s mercy.

During my first year at high school – after my move to Rotterdam – I had seen with stupefaction how in the Reformed Church a sinner confessed openly to the Church community his sin; I understood that – although in this church community God’s mercy was a mystery – the sinner was included again in the Church community. Another religious believe – though it concerned only another explanation of one faith issue – could be a reason for a schism within the Church community and – therefore – a schism within families, friends and acquaintances: so important was the true faith. In 1944 during the German occupation a church schism (or liberation) had taken place within the reformed church about whether baptism is only valid if the baptised continues the rest of her/his life to profess the true faith and may have a forecast on a presumptive afterlife in God’s grace (the Synodales), or is baptism a sign of God’s promise that you may be his child whereby the baptised is called to live as a child of God (the Liberates). This schism during the worst of the German occupation was terrible and inevitable for the Church communities and for the families in question [27]. As a separate pillars both Reformed Churches continued having several schisms afterwards.

Verzuiling in Nederland[28]

A few years later I read in high school a sentence from the Gospel of John:

In the Word was life and life was the light for all people [29].

On Yunmen’s question: “What is each and every person’s radiant light?” I answer according this sentence from the Gospel of John: “Life”. With Mŗtyū [30] – in the Mahābhārata death in the form of a woman created by Brahman – I wonder: “Why don’t people learn to live?””, says Man.

“Why don’t people allow light in each others’ eyes”, says Carla.

“Wherein do people differ from Krishna (the charioteer) who encouraged Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – towards entering the battle in which families, teachers and disciplines face each other in the tension between, on the one hand, world order and duty and, on the other hand, human action [31]? She/he who knows the world speak! Shall we continue this afternoon with the iconoclasm?”, says Narrator.

“That is good”, says Carla.

“May I invite you for a simple lunch”, says Man.


[1] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yunmen_Wenyan

[2] See: Tanahashi, Kazuaki ed., Treasury of the true dharma eye – Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo. Boston: Shambhala, 2012, p. 419 – 420

[3] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislaus_Hosius

[4] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Trent

[5] See: Fernández – Armesto, Felipe & Wilson, Derek, Reformatie – Christendom en de wereld 1500 – 2000, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Anthos, 1997, p. 61

[6] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgate

[7] See also case 14 in:  App, Urs, Master Yunmen. New York: Kodansha International: 1994, p. 91. Freely rendered: Someone asked: “What is the eye of true faith?”. Yunmen answered: “Everywhere”.

[8] Source of this sentence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_koans_by_Yunmen_Wenyan

[9] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[10] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oudekerksplein

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[12] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus

[13] Source: Eyck, Aldo van, Writings – The Child, the City and the Artist. Nijmegen: Sun, 2006, p. 73

[14] Source: Eyck, Aldo van, Writings – Collected articles and other writings 1947 – 1998. Nijmegen: Sun, 2006, p.145

[15] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[16] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheepvaarthuis

[17] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheepvaarthuis

[18] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[19] See: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oudekerksplein

[20] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhaozhou_Congshen

[21] See also: Hekiganroku – Casus 2. Zie ook: Yamada Kôun Roshi, Hekiganroku, Die Niederschrift vom blauen Fels. München: Kösel-Verlag, 2002

[22] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_%28Amsterdam%29

[23] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_%28Amsterdam%29

[24] Translation: “I believe in one God”

[25] Translation: “Allmighty father, creator of heaven and earth, of the visible and the invisible”

[26] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consecration

[27] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformed_Churches_in_the_Netherlands_(Liberated)

[28] An overview of several pillarisations of Churches in the Netherlands. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gereformeerde_Kerken_vrijgemaakt

[29] From: John 1:4

[30] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence, Part 2: Five common realities – Facts and logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 124 and: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 170 – 173

[31] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence, Part 2: Five common realities – Facts and logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 117

Emo of Friesland – globetrotter in the 13th century


Carla, Man and Narrator are sitting in a pub in Amsterdam for their evening meal.

“It was good to continue our quest in Amsterdam this afternoon with two sermons in stone. Tonight you wish to give us a brief description of the life story of Emo”, says Man.

“Your prelude to intensities and associations was impressive in brevity and versatility”, says Carla.

“Thank you for this compliment. The life story of Emo of Friesland – priest, theologian, scholar and abbot in the 13th century – shows a nice contrast and a resemblance with the changes during the Reformation in Holland in the 16th century. His life shows at the same time a similarity and a unbridgeable rupture with the pastors, scholars and Protestants after the Reformation.

Emo of Friesland – in Germany known as Emo van Wittewierum and in the Netherlands as Emo van Bloemhof – was born around 1175 AD near Groningen within a family that belonged to the elite of the “Ommelanden” around Groningen. These “Ommelanden” were part of Friesland, but the city of Groningen and the areas west of the city belonged to the Diocese of Utrecht; the land north and east of the city of Groningen belonged to the Diocese of Münster [1]. This separation had started because the areas Christianised by Boniface [2] – in the eighth century AD working from the Diocese of Utrecht – became part of the Diocese of Utrecht. Boniface converted these areas preaching in the old Frisian language instead of Latin. The areas converted by Liudger [3] – the successor of Boniface and the first Bishop of the Diocese of Münster – ordered by Charlemagne, became part of the Diocese of Münster. The separation between the sacral power and profane power was usually virtual at that time.

Emo had attended the school of a Benedictine monastery in the “Ommelanden” where after he had studied church law at the Universities of Paris. In 1190, he was the first foreign student at the University of Oxford. Thereafter he had attended the University of Orléans in France [4]. We can only surmise how he had made the study trips; probably he had travelled overland on foot – whereby he had mostly stayed at clergymen or in monasteries – and part of the trip to England he had travelled by boat. During his studies he had mainly used Medieval Church Latin, supplemented by Medieval English – old Frisian was akin to old English – and flawed French for daily contact with the local population in France.

After his studies, he had been teacher schoolmaster in Northern Groningen around 1200 AD and afterwards pastor in Huizinge.

Kerk in Huizinge[5]

In 1208 AD Emo had entered the convent of his cousin Emo van Romerswerf. This monastery joined in 1209 AD – one hundred years before founded – the order of Premonstratensians [6]. By a donation of the Church of Wierum (Wittewierum) Emo had founded the monastery of Bloemhof. The Bishop of Münster had wished to reverse the donation by this Church – located in the northeastern “Ommelanden”, because the Bishop was concerned about the strong rise of the various monastic orders (Premonstratensians, Cistercians) in Friesland and Groningen with an independent authority of the monastic order outside the worldly sacral power. Emo – with his knowledge of Church law – had defied the decision of the Bishop and in 1211-1212 AD he had travelled by foot to Rome to set the decision of the Bishop for discussion with Pope Innocent III.

In 1213 AD the monastery could officially be founded under the name Hortus Floridus; hereby may be conclude that Pope Innocent III had accepted the donation of the worldly Church of Wierum to the monastery.

Abdijkerk Hortus Floridus Wttewierum[7]

In 1219 AD Emo had witnessed the Saint Marcellus flood that caused 36,000 casualties and resulted in a famine [8]. The monastery is located on a mound, hereby the damage to the monastery had probably been limited; also at that time the rich farmers and the clergy in Northern Groningen knew where to establish their farms and monasteries.

We know the life course of Emo – and herewith a part of the life of the “Ommelanden” in relationship to the world of the 13th century AD – so detailed, because Emo had started with the well preserved “Chronicle of the monastery Bloemhof at Wittewierum [9].

The decline of the influence of the monastic orders in Friesland and Groningen – and also in England – began with the rise of the Reformation in 1521 AD. With this Reformation, the authority, the knowledge and the influence of the monasteries and the Church with its centuries old customs and habits were defied, just like Emo – with his knowledge of Church law as a literate man –had defied the authority of the Bishop of Münster three centuries earlier in order to give his life and work shape in the monastery Bloemhof.

The unbridgeable contrast between the mindset of Emo in the thirteenth century and the conceptual framework during the Reformation in the sixteenth century, is evident from the manner whereby the right is sought on their side during disagreements. In his stubbornness Emo had sought – and probably received – his right in his dispute with the Bishop of Münster by submitting his case to Pope Innocent III. An impression of the scope of the worldly power of Pope Innocent III: he had contested the Cathars; he had excommunicated the English King John of England; he had forced the French King Philip II Augustus to take his wife Ingeborg – from whom he had been divorced – back again; he had succeeded in the deposition of the German Emperor Otto IV [10].

Paus Innocent III[11]

In their stubbornness the Protestants had proclaimed many aberrant religious doctrines during the Reformation, that were also proclaimed by many Catholics. The Protestants were not drawn or pushed in a schism by their different doctrines, but by their stubbornly clinging to these different doctrines. The cause of their separation was the refusal of Protestants to take back their words “unless convinced by the Holy Scripture – that the Protestants had started to study independently within their own faith community – and by pure reason” [12]. Where Emo and the Bishop of Münster had finally accepted the opinion of the Pope and the Catholic Church, the Protestants had followed only the judgement of Holy Scripture and their own pure reason.

In the Netherlands the Protestants were drawn or pushed by their stubborn clinging to different religious doctrines in a rebellion with King Philip II, who was an equal to the Protestants in stubbornness and piety  [13], who certainly had as many issues with the Catholic Church, which had fought with and against the Pope of Rome [14] as befits a worldly king in those days, but who had eventually accepted the Catholic doctrines and practices.

Partly due to the different internal positions in religious affairs and under the influence of the “pure reason” – whereby in Holland commercialism is never lost sight of –, the Protestants in Holland had decided to a marriage of convenience between Church and State [15]. From this marriage of convenience between Church and State, the Dutch Republic [16] had arisen as first republic in world history. Tomorrow more about the start of the Reformation at our visit to the Old Church of Amsterdam”, says Narrator.

“During your description of the life of Emo and your explanation of the gap between the mindset of Emo for settling issues in comparison with the reference framework of the Protestants over three centuries later, I was reminded of a passage that I had read in the bookstore “Au Bout du Monde” at the Singel this afternoon. Freely rendered:

Yunmen [17] – a Chinese Zen master from the 10th century AD – asked his students: “Each and every person embodies the radiant light. If you try to see it, it is totally invisible. What is each and every person’s radiant light?”

No one of the assembly answered.

Yunmen answered for them: “The monks hall, the church, the kitchen, and the monastery gate”

Yunmen klooster in China[18]

As commentary tot his Buddhist question was written: “It is not Yunmen’s personal answer, everyone’s light makes this answer” and “All humanity embodies the radiant light” and “Know that the radiant light that each and every person embodies, is each and every person that is actualised” and “Even if the church, the kitchen and the monastery gate are the ancestors of Buddha, they cannot avoid being each and every person[19]. From the point of view of Indra’s Net, it is an easy question, but in everyday life it is difficult to accept the light in the eyes of each and every person”, says Man.

“In times of rebellion against (supposed?) injustice – in society or in religious questions – a situation that previously was experienced as perfectly normal, is now seen as a unacceptable injustice. During the Waning of the Middle Ages, Holland had lived according the rhythm of the Catholic Church, but with the rise of book-printing – whereby literate people started to study independently – mindlessly following old customs and faith according to the habits of the then Catholic Church did not fit any longer. The radiant light had changed during the Reformation. Did the radiant light change because humanity had changed during the Reformation? Is the radiant light so all-encompassing that it can also contain any injustice? I think the latter, but for me it is hard to accept”, says Carla.

“Is the radiant light – just like the Gods – tied to the law of cause and effect, or can the radiant light surpass partly or entirely from this law? Perhaps both. Shall we have another beer before we ask for the bill?”, says Narrator.

“I like a Belgian Tripel Trappist beer because this beer filters the light so beautiful”, says Man.

“For me a Gulpener Pilsner as a reminder of the light of my uninhibited youth”, says Carla.

“I will buy these beers from the the proceeds of the musical performance at Centraal Station this afternoon”, says Narrator.


[1] Source: Boer, Dick E.H. de, Emo’s reis – Een historisch culturele ontdekkingsreis door Europa in 1212, Leeuwarden: Uitgeverij Noordboek, 2011, p. 11

[2] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Boniface

[3] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludger

[4] See: http://www.ox.ac.uk/about_the_university/introducing_oxford/a_brief_history_of_the_university/index.html and http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emo_von_Wittewierum and http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emo_van_Bloemhof

[5] Photo of the contemporary St. Jans-church from the 13th century on the place where the previous Church had stood where Emo of Friesland had been parish priest in the twelfth century. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huizinge

[6] see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premonstratensians

[7] Photo of the former abbey of the monastery Hortus Floridus in Wittewierum around 1600. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emo_von_Wittewierum

[8]  See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_Sturmfluten_an_der_Nordsee, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_tides_of_the_North_Sea and http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erste_Marcellusflut

[9] This record can be read via the following hyperlink: http://www.dmgh.de/de/fs1/object/display/bsb00000886_00464.html

[10] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paus_Innocentius_III

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Innocent_III

[12] Source: Fernández – Armesto, Felipe & Wilson, Derek, Reformatie – Christendom en de wereld 1500 – 2000, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Anthos, 1997, p. 108.

[13] See also: Fernández – Armesto, Felipe & Wilson, Derek, Reformatie – Christendom en de wereld 1500 – 2000, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Anthos, 1997, p. 98 and Noordzij, Huib, Handboek van de Reformatie – De Nederlandse kerkhervorming in de 16e en de 17e eeuw. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Kok, 2012, p. 18 – 19

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_II_of_Spain

[15] See also: Noordzij, Huib, Handboek van de Reformatie – De Nederlandse kerkhervorming in de 16e en de 17e eeuw. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Kok, 2012, p. 414

[16] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republiek_der_Zeven_Verenigde_Nederlanden and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Republic

[17] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yunmen_Wenyan

[18] The contemporary Yunmen monastery in China. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yunmen_Wenyan

[19] Source: Tanahashi, Kazuaki ed., Treasury of the true dharma eye – Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo. Boston: Shambhala, 2012, p. 419 – 420

Five common realities – facts en logic 16


Carla and Man are waiting for Narrator to walk by the covered Vasari Corridor along the river Arno via the Pont Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti.

Feiten en logica 16a[1]

“After we had yesterday briefly looked into the role of a Bodhisattva in the mind of a warrior, I had to consider what active role a Bodhisattva can fulfil as warrior in a conflict or war. Do you have an idea?”, says Carla.

“I think that a Bodhisattva will try to take care within the possibilities and circumstances. During the Second World War, several Japanese Zen masters were – as young men – conscripted as young men in the Japanese army. In their brief biographies they mention among others meditating while standing guard [2] during their obligatory military service. I hope that they as Zen monks have fulfilled their role with compassion during battles and skirmishes; the concise biographies leaves this – perhaps wisely – unmentioned. The metaphor of Indra’s Net has within the brilliance of glass pearls also a deep darkness.

In the brilliant glare

Of the pearls in Indra’s net

Flashes the darkness

There is Narrator”, says Man.

“This covered walkway from the Palazzo degli Uffizi via de Vasari Corridor [3] and the Pont Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti shows the endeavor of the Medici family during the first half of the 16th century to the outside world.

Feiten en logica 16b[4]

By the acquired possession and wealth, the family could walk – sheltered against weather conditions – from their new residential palace outside the city to their Palazzo degli Uffizi (or their working palace) in the city. At the beginning of the 16th century, the de Medici family had come to power again in Florence around 1512 A.C., and Giovanni de Medici had been elected as pope in 1513 A.C.. Hereafter Giovanni – as Pope Leo X – to his brother written: “God has given us the Papacy, let us now enjoy it“. [5]. As a Pope, Leo X had been a disaster, as a renaissance Prince a success; he commissioned Michelangelo – coming from Florence – to redesign and finish the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and he ordered an extremely expensive carpets series for the Sistine Chapel [6]. To finance this luxurious lifestyle, he introduced indulgences within the Catholic Church: by donations to the Catholic Church, the giver could shorten the time in purgatory for the beneficiary – for example deceased family members. As a response, on 31 October 1517 Martin Luther distributed his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” in Wittemberg in Germany [7] that became the start of the Reformation. After his death in 1521, Pope Leo X was succeeded by Pope Adrian VI – coming from Utrecht in the Netherlands – who inherited an empty Papal Treasury and was also not welcome in Rome: he died in 1523 [8]. In that year, Giulio de Medici was elected as Pope Clement VII; by his clumsy and undiplomatic actions he caused the spread of the Reformation in Northern Europe and  the excommunication of King Henry VIII in England. His attention was focussed to art and culture; he commissioned Michelangelo in to build the Medici Chapel of the San Lorenzo Basilica in Florence – that we had visited a few days ago.

I tell these historical facts during the construction of the Vasari Corridor and the Pont Vecchio, because the building style reflects the hope of a continuous bridge for the de Medici family to the riches of the world. We know that herewith also the voidness for the de Medici family – in the form of vanity – and the decline of the Papal pontificate had started [9]; herewith as well the Catholic Church had fallen in a deep crisis”, says Narrator while they walk to the middle of the bridge.

“The word bankrupt [10] has started around that time on this bridge. When a trader could no longer meet his obligations, the counter (or “bank” in Italian) whereon he traded, was broken”,  says Carla.

By the Via de Guicciardini they walk to Palazzo Pitte.

Feiten en logica 16c[11]

“This palace had been built in the 15th century as the residence of the merchant Luca Pitti. In 1549 the Palace had come in the possession of the de Medici family where after members of the family have lived here to the extinction of the family in 1737. The palace became a treasure house in which the different generations of the family collected many of their paintings, jewellery and luxury possessions [11]. In addition, the family wished to show with this palace the grandeur of a nobel family to the outside world. During our tour we will see that the design and interior especially aims at impression of the visitor. Here shows the warrior his conquests to – a select part of – the outside world. Let us go inside”, says Narrator.

Feiten en logica 16d[13]

After the visit to the Palace, Carla, Man and the Narrator are sitting on a terrace on the Via della Sprone.

“in my eyes, Palace Pitti is a transition from the Renaissance to a different time, and for us a connection between “Facts and Logic” within the emerging reason in the Renaissance to “Intensities and Associations” in the personal development by religion, art and science, that we will visit in Amsterdam as the next stage on our Odyssey to “Who are you””, says Man.

“During our visit to the Palace, I was reminded of a passage from the Icelandic Egils saga centered on the life of the 10th-century farmer, warrior and poet Egill Skallagrímsson [14].

‘Thus counselled my mother,
For me should they purchase
A galley and good oars
To go forth a-roving.
So may I high-standing,
A noble barque steering,
Hold course for the haven,
Hew down many foemen.’
[15]

Or adapted to Palazzo Pitti:

“Encouraged by my parents,

Who won for me

Capital and power

To go out robbing.

So may I stand high,

Above the earthly turmoil

To eternal heaven,

And crush all opposition”.

For the inhabitants of Palazzo Pitti, the tool in the form of “weapons and people” as extension of the Viking Warrior – who still stood at the front of the battle order himself – was already replaced by the tool “capital and power” of the modern distant Warrior. The modern Warrior has withdrawn himself from the turmoil of battle; he stands as a solitary ruler high above daily life. This lone fighter beats the opponents at a distance with a “clean kill” [16]; in reality of daily life this manslaughter is always very grubby with the stench of decay. In Amsterdam, I hope being able to show more hereof. Palazzo Pitti is for me deathly and stilled in the hang to – the classic pitfall of the Warrior – lasting exceptional glory”, says Carla.

“So true. At your view of the solitary ruler, I am reminded of the Almighty God in heaven. Does the Christian Divine Trinity also have this classic pitfall of the lone fighter? I read somewhere that even Gods are engaged in a struggle for survival. In Amsterdam we will investigate during “Intensities and Associations” inter alia the personal relationship with God – and its consequences – within Christianity after the Protestant Reformation. How may a Bodhisattva get around this classic pitfall? By humility? I do not know. Shall we – tonight during the last supper on this part of the quest – look back on our short visit to Florence? We can also make some plans for the continuation of our Odyssey”, says Narrator.

“That’s all right. I suggest that this afternoon we go our separate ways”, says Man.

“That is good”, says Carla.


[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponte_Vecchio

[2] For example: Wetering, Janwillem van de, De Lege Spiegel. Amsterdam: De Driehoek, p. 40; in English: The empty mirror

[3] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corridoio_Vasariano

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corridoio_Vasariano

[5] Source: Norwich, John Julius, The Popes, A History, London: Chatto & Windos, 2011, p. 279.

[6] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paus_Leo_X

[7] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maarten_Luther

[8] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paus_Adrianus_VI

[9] See also: Norwich, John Julius, The Popes, A History, London: Chatto & Windos, 2011, p. 279 – 298.

[10] Bankrupt is in Italian Bancarotta – derived from “banca” meaning counter, and via latin “rupta” that is a conjugation of the verb “rumpere” meaning “to break, to disrupt”.

[11] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Pitti

[12] Source: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Pitti

[13] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Pitti

[14] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egils_saga

[15] From chapter 40 of Egil’s Saga. Source: http://sagadb.org/egils_saga.en. See also:  Marlantes, Karl, What it is like to go to war. London: Corvus, 2012 p. 69 – 70

[16] In the mind of the warrior a “clean kill” – with an effortless blow of two knuckles of the fist – is aesthetically preferred above clubbing with a stone. Even more aesthetically is shooting with a fine shotgun from a distance in a duel, or in our modern times with a laser gun. In our century this led to a president who personally gives orders to kill opponents by computer-controlled  drones in other countries. See also:  Marlantes, Karl, What it is like to go to war. London: Corvus, 2012 p. 71 – 72