Rambling thoughts from a morning brain….

I’m trying to finish a paper on Pope Innocent III’s idea of the papacy. It has taken me 9 months, and while I shouldn’t compare it to the pain of giving birth….

OK. But seriously, it has taken a great deal of emotional processing–which for me, means hours of staring at a wall and feeling various unformed thoughts struggle inside me. Only at the very end do I have words.

This is it: Pope Innocent III was a good man. He defended prostitutes, gave indulgences to men who would marry one and get her out of that lifestyle, and (if legends be true) set up an anonymous infant donation center, so that they wouldn’t end up drowned in the river like kittens. He was an idealist and a romantic: and one of those ones who probably cried for those who had lost, especially their innocence. But….he trusted far too easily. And when his grand plans of heroism went terribly awry (e.g. when would-be crusaders lost control of their soldiers who then pillaged/raped/slaughtered)…he commanded, he complained, and when they did not listen, he gave up and compromised with them.

I suppose one can’t condemn someone for failing. But it is still sad.

Also…he corrupted the symbol. Oh, he had the best of intentions, but he innovated the symbol: of what the Pope was. In his teaching, he changed the symbol of the pope, from friend of the Bridegroom (Christ) to bridegroom himself (albeit temporarily and technically only for the city of Rome). That was a very dangerous thing to do. Because symbols are sacred, latent with terrible power (like a nuclear reactor), and generations will reap the fruit of it. And generations did reap the fruit.

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5 thoughts on “Rambling thoughts from a morning brain….

  1. Bex, please don’t put up my comment, I was trying to be clever and use one of my nicknames for Jehanne, but then I looked it up on urban dictionary…yeah. So please delete. Thanks.

  2. PS
    Perhaps I’m laying too much weight on the symbol—in one sense, it was just indicative of broader trends to emphasize the institution (e.g. hierarchical order) over the eternal goal….anyways…hmm…

  3. I like your comment about the shift between bride and bridegroom a lot, I think it’s a really interesting point. Do you think that the symbolic shift changed thing, or do you think that it was indicative of things that were already changing? (or, in another way, do you think Innocent changed the papacy, or do you think it was already changing and he just sort of embodied it the best?)

    (PS: I’m still going to read your paper, but I haven’t yet – so sorry if you talk about it there!)

  4. I guess it was probably more indicative of things already changing–just like his treatment of the crusaders. But all the same, his not pushing back against it, but falling in with it…I guess, I wanted him to react a bit more, hold the line, etc. But I admit that is not a historian’s judgement though, that is me and my ideology….

    Hmm…I guess I do kinda assume that the way to preserve/or/change a prevailing ideology/culture is by defending/transforming/preserving the symbols. Perhaps it is just because my own life is controlled by Tolkien & Lewis–their stories got into me as an 8-yr-old. So it’s possible I’m over-generalizing the power of symbol on most people’s reality/actions…

    As for the paper…I’m pretty sure it is a mess…read at your own risk. I’m not risking it yet myself. 😛

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