Your RDA of Irony

The Calvinist Cookbook

On this day in 1553, Michael Servetus was burned alive for heresy–by the Protestants. No, he was not doing anything inordinately Catholic, such as singing Irish ballads or organizing bingo nights (although the Calvinists would have killed him for that, too). The distinguished physician and scholar was a free-thinker and thought that the Trinity was an unnecessary bureaucracy.

(Hello. You have reached the department of Metaphysical Resources. Press one if you wish to pray to the Father. Press two if you wish to pray to the Son….)

Servetus knew that his views would not be appreciated in his native Spain but he imagined that the Protestants would be more tolerate. After all, they were being persecuted for their beliefs. He might have been right about the Dutch, but anywhere else he was asking to be kindling. Martin Luther didn’t like dissenters and Jean Calvin really didn’t like anyone. (Calvin’s appeal was that surly manners and stinginess were signs of divine grace; he was the pioneer of self-help motivational speakers.) Unfortunately for Servetus, he sought refuge in Geneva, the headquarters of “Rude Your Way to Heaven.”

Calvin believed in the Trinity. He probably enjoyed the idea of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit brawling with each other when they weren’t picking on mankind. However, Servetus disagreed with Calvin–and therefore God. At least, the roasted Servetus was spared one indignity; the Swiss had yet to invent the fondue.

  1. Mary Ann Jung says:

    The depressing part of that story is you’d think we’d have learned to stop slaughtering folks of other religions by now…

  2. Alan Perlman says:

    Burning alive is a particularly sick and sadistic way to kill someone. I wonder what Jesus would have said to the Holy Incinerators?

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