Medieval Heresies

I’m currently reading Medieval Heresy: Popular Movements from the Gregorian Reform to the Reformation by Malcolm Lambert. So: history, religion, heresy, culture, sociology…it’s all there.

It’s an interesting book, and definitely feeds into my love of all things historical, history…and also religion related. I enjoy studying medieval times–and to be honest, religion was a huge deal at those times. So this is a fun book to read, because it has so much interesting information in it.

To be quite honest, it’s taking me time (work takes most of my time away); and also, it is quite dense subject matter. This is an academic book, after all. But I plan on finishing it in the next 2-3 weeks, if I can. And then I want to write up a book review of what I thought about it.

Nothing formal to write, not really. But it’s been a good book to read; so I’d like to share my thoughts. And maybe other people would be interested in reading it, too.


What is Double Faith?

Kind of an interesting question, depending on perspective. Because I’m sure there could be at least a dozen answers I could come up with–and that does not begin to count the answers other people could give at the exact same time. – and most of them are not the historical phenomenon I am actually talking about.

The historian and life-long student in me wants to pontificate on double faith; that being the particular manifestation of Orthodox Christianity that sprung up after the church swept through eastern Slavic lands and became the dominant religion of the ruling class. The rulers pushed their new holy religion on the masses, regardless of what the masses themselves believed or wanted. Rulers prerogative, as it were, of course.

Which led to a duality of belief that came down to us as a particular phenomenon in early modern Russian religious belief:

Dvoeverie – Double Faith

Just what is this?

Continue reading “What is Double Faith?”

Patron Saint of Cats

Patron Saint of Cats

Once again it’s that favorite time of year (wherein I ignore the super-obvious holiday, the one everyone will be celebrating [including my entire family], that I’ve previously ranted about, and focus on a day I like far better). It’s the Feast Day of St. Gertrude of Nivelles! Patron saint of cats, and therefore of supreme importance to me as a cat-lover. Continue reading “Patron Saint of Cats”

Sanctimonious Holidays

Valentine’s Day has never been anything special to me. Admittedly I am not fond of it, being single, because everything is shoved in your face as “couples” this, that and the next. So being single around this time of year is awful anyway. But even when I have had a boyfriend, I’ve never been much interested in this particular holiday. It just isn’t interesting to me, and I’m generally not fond of jumping into the commercial “Hallmark” of the whole holiday. I’m not going to shit on the day for anyone who likes it though. A lot of my friends and family love Valentine’s Day for getting to have an excuse to celebrate with their SO. And that’s sweet, and I think that kind of thing is adorable.

This means that me, myself, I’m fairly quiet about it. After all, no reason to spoil the holiday for people who like it, just because my own nature makes me rather less sappy and romantic than the average female out there. I really prefer not acknowledging this holiday at all, so when I’m dating, I actually ask that nothing be done. Or if the person I’m dating really feels the need to get me something–a book. Nothing Valentine’s, not chocolate, not flowers. But that’s just myself and how I handle it.

Continue reading “Sanctimonious Holidays”



Graveyards are a strange place. They’re peaceful, but also sometimes creepy. Case in point, these photos I have here. These are photos from the Alter Friedhof in Freiburg im Breisgau, where I spent a year living.

The featured image above is the stone in a mausoleum that says:

Weinet nicht meine Lieben.

Ich bin glücklich.

In English: “Cry not my beloved, I am happy”. Which is kind of a darling sentiment…I mean, maybe the person was suffering a long illness that death was a relief from? Or perhaps they were just miserable in life, and death brought them freedom. That’s nothing to frown at; it would be a good thing. Continue reading “Graveyards”

St. Gertrude of Nivelles

St. Gertrude
Basilica of our Lady – Tongeren

Okay…so I’m a day late. But I had a long day of work yesterday and I forgot to queue up this post on Tuesday night. But this is one of my favorite, more modern religious points. And it’s one that warms my heart, one of those things that makes me just kind of giggle in delight.

St. Gertrude of Nivelles is traditionally patron saint of travelers, the mentally ill, among other things like gardeners. But more modern she is connected to cats. I am very well aware that the cat association is really modern. But still–if there’s a saint of the internet, why not a modern connection as patron saint of cats? Continue reading “St. Gertrude of Nivelles”

On Working with Saints…

Which is something I used to swear I’d never do…but really, sometimes things change. I really am going to have to remember not to promise myself to never do something. It bites me in the foot when I claim stuff like that. It’s a lesson I should have learned a long time ago. But then again, I am also stubborn, so I guess I had to learn a bit of the hard way.

My family, at least a part of it, was Catholic for generations. Up until my mom. So I wasn’t raised Catholic. I’m familiar with lots of tenets, and I’m politely engaged with some parts of Christianity to know what I am doing. Not that I’d ever claim to be Catholic or to be a Christian. But, I do like researching saints and religious theology; but saints are admittedly more interesting to research for their hagiographies. And sometimes I do understand why people work with saints. And my family, those who are still Catholic, talk a lot about saints and praying to them. It’s like they’re working with local, nature or craft spirits. Continue reading “On Working with Saints…”

On Christianity and Being a Pagan

(Bonus note: this is post 200 on my blog! I’m glad that you guys are still around, reading this)

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in a, well basically agnostic household. Which does lead to a pretty amusing story into how I got religion at all. But that does not mean that Christianity was not a part of my childhood. I always was a curious child.

My mother is a lapsed Catholic, my father was a member of a Lutheran/Protestant church as a kid…but I sure never heard that from him, instead learning that from my grandma. My parents let me figure out religion and spirituality for myself. So I got to go to a cousin’s Hindu wedding ceremony, a Catholic wedding…as well as a slew of other Christian denomination weddings in the family.

As for actual religious services – I’ve been to a Catholic mass, a Protestant service, a few Evangelical services, and even to a Mormon youth group meeting. I got to read the Book of Mormon, massive parts of the Bible, I’ve read rabbinical texts outside the Torah, as well as parts of the Qu’ran; beyond the “Big 3” I’ve read Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist and Hindu scholars’ works. I’ve read works about Shinto, Jainism, Sikhim as well. (not to say that I could speak with any authority on those topics, because most of them I can only give a basic overview of belief) But, suffice it to say that I was given a lot of freedom to learn as I wanted growing up.

Which explains how my parents, when I was 11, agreed to let me go to an Evangelical Summer Camp with my neighbor. It was all split up into age groups, so I went with one of the neighbor girls, while my sister went on a different week with the other neighbor. Continue reading “On Christianity and Being a Pagan”

Hildegard: A Saint Eight Centuries in the Making

Hildegard: A Saint Eight Centuries in the Making

Hildegard von Bingen is one of the most fascinating figures I learned about in any of my religion classes in college. And I enjoy reading her work.

hildegard & volmar

The visionary abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) has long been regarded as a saint, with her feast day of September 17, yet she was only officially canonized in May 2012. Why did it take the Vatican over eight centuries to canonize this great polymath, composer, and theologian?

The first attempt to canonize Hildegard began in 1233, but failed as over fifty years had passed since her death and most of the witnesses and beneficiaries of her reported miracles were deceased. Her theological writings were deemed too dense and difficult for subsequent generations to understand and soon fell into obscurity, as did her music. According to Barbara Newman, Hildegard was remembered mainly as an apocalyptic prophet. But in the age of Enlightenment, prophets and mystics went out of fashion. Hildegard was dismissed as a hysteric. Even the authorship of her own work was disputed as pundits began to suggest her books…

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