Monday, January 25, 2016

And you thought the Freemasons were bad

Australian politics is pretty boring at the moment:   Malcolm Turnbull would easily win the election if only he could continue doing nothing before it has to be called.   Just like the Queensland Premiership, where Annastacia Palaszczuk maintains popularity by simply keeping a pretty low profile, the non-scary leaders who get to follow those who do scare the public have a pretty easy run for quite a while.   

Of course, there is the bizarre spectacle of Kevin Rudd thinking he would be good for the United Nations - but surely that is more of a matter of entertainment than a serious possibility.   Why would Julie Bishop say the government would even consider it, though?   (Kevin doesn't look all that well to me in recent photos I've noticed, too, although they might be old file ones I suppose.)

So without politics to worry about at the moment, I wandered over to Arts & Letters Daily, to read a scathing review of book about Augustine.    It's lengthy, but this episode is noteworthy for its insight into ancient rumour mill:
The story begins when Augustine, as a Manichee, may have heard (must have heard according Lane Fox) an anti-Manichaean slander that the cult’s Elect, at their secret meals, had sex on top of flour spread on the floor. Their joint juices were spilled on the flour, and the male like some unknown Onan spilled his seed upon the ground, making the flour a carrier of the particles of light from the Elect, as the members of the Manichee sect were called. Bread was then made of the flour for the Elect to consume. Like most attacks of bigotry, this slur was illogical. What good would it do for the Elect to recycle light out into bread and then back into the source of the light in the first place? There is no way to know how widely this crude attack was known to people, much less to know how many credited its nonsense. 

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