May 21, 2008

Our frail intelligence

In the Pursuit of the Millennium, Norman Cohn tells of the flagellants, a medieval movement that required of followers

a grim torture which people inflicted upon themselves in the hope of inducing a punishing God to put away his rod, to forgive them their sins, to spare them the greater chastisements which would otherwise be theirs in this life and the next.

The popularity of the flagellants was particularly high during the Black Death; it is notable as well that these pious torturers of their own flesh were particularly fond of torturing that of the Jews as well. We can look at their madness from a safe remove and laugh at them for scourging their flesh when soap and water would have been more effective, but consider this item:

INDIANA Jones star HARRISON FORD has had his chest waxed in an ad to protest against global deforestation.

Ford grimaces in pain and admits “that hurts” in the 30-second clip.

The actor, 65, said: “Every bit of rainforest that gets ripped out over there hurts us over here.”

Ford — whose Kingdom of the Crystal Skull film opens today — shot the clip for Conservation International.

Boss Peter Seligmann said: “I didn’t have to talk him into anything.”

Harrison Ford is a man of not inconsiderable means. He could hire a Washington lobbyist to press for preservation of the rain forest, or buy hundreds of acres of it himself to conserve, but instead prefers to grimace in pain as his chest is waxed (and by the way, what a wuss -- the flagellants actually flogged themselves).

Posted by Ideofact at May 21, 2008 11:57 PM

Have you read "The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon"? The flagellants and mass pogroms in 1500 Portugal are the setting for a murder mystery. It's written by a medievalist and it is *gorgeous* and equally *horrifying*. The protagonist is a young, unmarried Jewish mystic and the prose is just gorgeous.

Posted by: Nahed Sarvy at June 4, 2008 11:25 AM