Posts Tagged ‘John Calvin’

Money Talks–or at least gossips

Posted in General, On This Day on July 10th, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

Brit Finds $5M in Roman Coins With Metal Detector

July 8)   A British treasure hunter has stumbled upon the country’s biggest-ever find of Roman coins buried in a field in southwest England.

Using a metal detector, Dave Crisp found a hoard of more than 52,000 coins buried in an enormous pot in county Somerset. The bronze and silver coins date from the third century and include some minted by self-proclaimed Emperor Carausius.

The stash has been valued at around $5 million and weighs more than 350 pounds, The Associated Press reported.

A staff member displays handfuls of coins of Tetricus I on display at the British Museum in London, Thursday, July 8.

“I have made many finds over the years, but this is my first major coin hoard,” Crisp told the BBC.

Crisp was first alerted to the stash when he found a tiny coin buried about a foot deep. The more he dug, the more coins he unearthed. After pulling up a dozen of them, he called in the experts.

It took staff at the British Museum a full month to wash the coins and three more months to catalog them, according to The Guardian.

It isn’t clear how the huge quantity of coins got into the field. A Roman road runs near the site, but there is no evidence of any Roman villa or settlement there. Archaeologists believe they may represent the life savings of an entire community and may have been buried as part of a religious ceremony.

The find may change the way the British view their Roman heritage, putting greater emphasis on the story of Carausius. Carausius was a Roman naval officer who was declared an outlaw when Emperor Maximian suspected he was making deals with pirates.

Carausius fled to Britain in 286 and declared himself emperor, ruling over Britain and part of France for seven years before being killed by his finance minister.

“”This find presents us with an opportunity to put Carausius on the map,” Roger Bland, a coins expert from the British Museum, told AP. “Schoolchildren across the country have been studying Roman Britain for decades, but are never taught about Carausius our lost British emperor.”

Actually, Carausius could have had a revived popularity after the 1988 premiere of “The Lair of the White Worm.”  The Roman usurper was mentioned, if not depicted, as being the lover of a snake goddess–played by Amanda Donahoe–who was still devouring men, in so many ways, some 1700 years later.  The story was based on a novel by Bram Stoker, who evidently was trying to avoid being a one-hit wonder.  (He failed.)  British director Ken Russell adapted the story–which is to say that he made it unrecognizable, inexplicable and way beyond kinky.  Stoker never imagined a crucified Jesus being attacked by a large white snake; that was one of Mr. Russell’s more sedate images.

Unfortunately, aside from that casual name-dropping, Carausius has never been depicted in film or television.  So, you can’t envision him within six degrees of Kevin Bacon.  Well, you are wrong.  Carausius was defying the Emperor Maximian, who at least appeared in the sword & sandal B-grade feature “Constantine and the Cross”.  Maximian was portrayed by Tino Carraro.  No, you’ve never seen him in a Sergio Leone western; Carraro wasn’t that good.  Maximian was the father-in-law of Constantine who was played by Cornel Wilde.  (So, the first Christian Emperor looked like a Hungarian Jew.)  Wilde took the Lira and the income from other awful films to finance an excellent movie called “The Naked Prey”.  He was its producer, director and star.  In the film, Wilde is a scout of a hunting party that is massacred by African tribesman.  Wilde’s character avoids summary execution but is turned loose to be hunted by a group of warriors; their leader was played by a Ken Gampu.  Mr. Gampu, a South African actor, would subsequently avoid the temptation to massacre Kevin Bacon in “The Air Up There.”

So, that is Carausius, Maximian, Tino Carraro, Cornel Wilde, Ken Gampu and Kevin Bacon:  five degrees and 1700 years.

p.s.  Here is the story of an even more interesting treasure hoard:

p.p.s.  Dour, dismal but spiritually-correct birthday, John Calvin:

The Joys of Misery (and the embarrassment of evolution)

Posted in General, On This Day on July 10th, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

July 10, 1509:  John Calvin Begins Denouncing the World

This is an awkward day in Heaven.  God help the Angel so tactless as to wish John Calvin a Happy Birthday.  The Protestant Reformer does not  mind being over 500 years old; on the contrary, decrepitude becomes him.  No, he just finds that the adjective “happy” is an accusation, the insinuation of a human pleasure. However, Reverend Calvin might appreciate a cake with 500 lit candles because that would remind him of the fires of Hell that only God’s arbitrary mercy spared him.

You have to wonder:  this curmudgeon was preferable to syphilitic Popes?  Certainly not at a dinner party or as a friend on Facebook, but something in the Manic-Repressive did have a certain appeal.  He could be considered the gentile Ayn Rand.  When you are miserable, you are holy; and you are doing God’s Will by making everyone else miserable, too.  Furthermore, Calvin could also be regarded as the gentile Milton Friedman; if you are making money, it must be God’s Will.  So, if you regard bad manners and greed as sacraments, then Calvin has a theology for you.

The Dutch adhered to the greed,  the Presbyterians of Scotland worshipped the misery, and the Puritans of England embraced both.  Unfortunately, this leaves us with an ironic fact of evolution.  The dour, repressive John Calvin is the Godfather of Liberals. 

Liberals were not always the kindly if patronizing, ineffectual, open-minded to the point of chaotic, “secular humanists” that you know and love. No, in the beginning, liberals were grim, ruthless bigots. In the 17th century, Fox News actually would have been right: these liberals really did have a war against Christmas. 

Yes, just as Creationists deny the family resemblance to Neanderthals, liberals seem loathe to admit their descent from the Calvinists.  The Puritans are the antithesis of modern liberal values. They were miserable, dogmatic misanthropes, regarding all but themselves as the appetizers of Satan.  When they were in power, under Cromwell, they suppressed cards, dance, theater, even the celebration of Christmas. Any hint of color was suspiciously Catholic. (The Puritans did permit beer, cider and ale, but those beverages were more sanitary than 17th century water.).

However, their misanthropism had an egalitarian character; they hated everyone equally. The monarchy was not beyond their censure; indeed, they deeply resented that their taxes should subsidize the royal pleasures. They would have restricted Elizabeth I to one good dress (plain black silk) and two or three frocks. Yet, these dour curmudgeons were the first to realize that Parliament offered them a weekday pulpit to denounce the vices and faults of England. Their numbers in Parliament grew over time, reflecting the middle class alienation from the monarchy. They were a handful of cantankerous pennypinchers in the reign of Elizabeth. They were the vociferous minority that attacked the incompetence of James I. They were the militant core of the majority that resisted the intimidation of Charles I. And they were the vanguard of the triumphant army that established the supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy.

Once in power, the Puritans succeeded in making England miserable, but England was neither sanctified nor grateful for the experience. Indeed, after a decade of Cromwell, Puritanism had lost its Calvinist charisma for the middle class. England longed for pageantry and syphilis; and Charles II would offer both. If, however, the Puritans now receded from political domination, they had left one legacy that the Restoration could never undo. Parliament was the supreme institution of the land; and the monarch served at its sufferance.

As for the Puritans, power–however shortlived–had proved both corrupting and enlightening. They had liked dominance and, in hope of regaining it, they realized that politics was more useful than dogma. They did not immediately or completely forsake their cherished prejudices; they still hated Catholics and distrusted the Stuarts. However, they shed their repressive theocratic personality, and reinvented Calvinism into a self-improvement, assertiveness training. They became the champions of a rising–secular–middle class struggling against the hereditary rule of upper-class twits. The new and improved faction needed a more appealing name than Puritan. In hindsight, Whig wasn’t a great choice but it did escape that dour Calvinist stigma.

New name, new image. True, over the next two hundred years, there was an occasional lapse from those lurking, recessive genes: William Gladstone was creepy enough to be a Puritan. Nonetheless, the modern liberal would gladly claim his Whig descent from John Locke, Robert Walpole, William Pitt and their American kinsmen (Franklin, Jefferson and the rest). But one cannot claim that the modern liberal sprang forth fully developed from the mind of John Locke. Whether we like it or not, the family tree includes John Calvin.

Of course, the fact would make Calvin miserable, but isn’t that what he would want?

The Calvinist Cookbook

Posted in General, On This Day on October 27th, 2006 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

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.