Monday, February 14, 2011

Review of the Knights Templar Revealed - Part the First

Cover of The Knights Templar Revealed
As I threatened promised in a previous post, I have been re-reading the book The Knights Templar Revealed in the hopes of doing a reasonable review of the book. I keep getting caught in the trap of wanting to practically do a rebuttal of the things in the book and have to remind myself that I'm writing a review, not a caustic exegesis. So, with that firmly in mind, I think I have re-perused enough to do a reasonable job with the review. Shall we, then? Let's.
The book is sort of split into two separate and distinct sections. The first is a description of the Minoan culture and the theory that these inhabitants of Crete were somehow connected to the megalithic cultures of western Europe. There is the Phaistos Disc (the gold medal on the cover of the book) that one of the authors claims to have deciphered as a kind of calendar (he of course references a previous book that you will have to purchase to find out what the reality is). They also, around the same time, introduce the theory of Salt Lines (part of 366 degree geometry theory, apparently). This theory holds that there are a preponderance of sites along special latitudinal and longitudinal lines that were associated with salt trade in pre-history. An interesting theory, but what does it really have to do with the Templars? Ahhh, patience young grasshopper; all in time.
St Bernard of Clairvaux
Skip ahead a bit and the focus shifts to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Then things take a pretty interesting turn. The main thinking is that there is a plan, ancient in design and long in implementation, to destroy the Church from within by supplanting it with early Christian beliefs. Bernard is seen as one of the main conspirators in this, supporting the rise of the Templars to ensure that things progress appropriately. That Bernard had some, um, "interesting" takes on Christianity is not all terribly uncommon for the era, even for a church official. Numerous groups sprang up around 1000 AD as there was a strong sense that Christ's return was imminent (think Y2K with a religious bent). So much so that there were several different investigations of these groups by the Church in Rome to see if there was any heresy involved. The Church's teachings at the time were still developing (Mary, Jesus' mother, still wasn't really considered divine before Bernard's time). The main arguments seem to be around using the Cistercian order as a means to the destruction of the Church. The Cistercians has been founded not long before Bernard arrived at Citeaux (the mother house of the Cistercian order) with a full entourage of relatives. Within two years he was given permission to found a daughter house at Clairvaux. The authors seem surprised at this given that there were likely other, more experienced Cistercians in the abbey. I'm not sure, but I think they miss the obvious in that showing up with a group like Bernard did is the medieval equivalent of stuffing the ballot box. Regardless, Bernard goes of to Clairvaux and then apparently engages in all kinds of mischief, like proposing Innocent II as Bishop of Rome (also called the Pope) during one of several schisms when two Popes were elected - the Pope (Innocent II) and the Anti-Pope (Anacletus II) - and you thought medieval history was boring. To the authors, again, this smacks of a long-time conspiracy as Innocent looks to adopt some of Bernard's theories regarding the divinity of Mary. Again - it seems they miss the obvious possibilities that Innocent may have shared Bernard's beliefs or have been swayed by his arguments (by their own admission, Bernard was an excellent politician and advocate).
I am continually amazed by people's desire to find structure where there is none. This is called pareidolia in psychological circles - seeing patterns in random noise. The face on Mars, Jesus on pieces of toast, etc. While I can call "Occam's Razor"* on a multitude of things in these theories, it's almost pointless. "True believers" will see the evidence and "draw their own conclusions" that agree with the authors. Those paid by big pharma (wait - that's just the anti-vax movement claiming that), erm, the historical-academic complex will say that these are just conspiracy theories and the "truth" is being silenced. But honestly - what IS more plausible: that there is a vast conspiracy spanning generations, taking centuries to bring to fruition? or that there are confluences of ideas and powerful individuals who really do change the world?
Masonic Square and Compasses
Given how much our world has changed since the dawning of this country, to think that plans could be executed over centuries is a bit ludicrous. Not even the Freemasons could really pull that off. And again, I AM a Mason. Unfortunately I'm not part of the elevated 33rd degree with access to all the secrets of the universe. But the 33rd Masons I do know don't seem to control the world - they can't even get the trestle-boards out on time...**
This is all to be continued in Part the Second as we may actually get some Templar lore.

* Almost as good as Rule 34 of the Internet or Godwin's Law. You'll notice I've invoked neither in this review - but there's still more to come, so I may yet need to do so.
** Trestle-boards are communications from a lodge of Masons to its members, informing them of upcoming meetings and events.

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