St Joan of Arc

So the witch-like instructions whispered in her adolescent shell-like ear, her unmaidenly dressing up in the shiny steel – soon battered and blooded – of war, (instead of simpering inanely as she sampled a comfit and tinkled on the virginals)…and, worst of all, her deep rebellion – a mere girl winning; all of these crimes against the church no doubt meant she was a barbecue just waiting to happen, and any old sieve of a charge (leaking corruption and misogynistic glee all over the raven-fat bloated meat hectares of sodden battleground) would have carried the righteous through the Sea of Superstition.

Martyr: What other species could have come up with so cunning a conceit, so barbarous a blighted blessing? For Joan (born, as I was, under Capricorn, and dead before she had left her teens) is one of a martyred multitude: Men and women, girls and boys slaughtered in repulsively inventive ways (which were then celebrated in book form and given, as presents, to good Catholic children) because of the cut of their spiritual jibs – which did not accord with the strict letter of the opposing religion’s law, and so merited the ripping out of maidenheads, eyes, breasts, the forcing of multiple arrows into young men’s flesh; the mass burning, in Oxford City Centre, of the infamous trio for whom the Martyrs’ Memorial was hewn, constructed and named.

But have you noticed? How loose and sick the definition of ‘martyr’ actually is? How degenerate its adherents? For it is the dominant religion which gets to play in the pen of slaying and raping and burning and bone-breaking and still has the moral upper-hand, claiming that its victims in some way deserved such treatment – and it is a belief in this Top God that oils the martyr’s way up the canonical slope to Sainthood: Cauterisation followed by Canonisation.

Would it not be far better to have a world in which no martyrs were needed? In which holding on to one’s beliefs were seen as a sign of strength rather than treachery? Where the Elders in religious tribes were not encouraged to abuse their power (under the spurious sanction of some long-bearded smiting Deity up in the Heavens) by murdering those who believed differently?

Back to Joan: I feel fairly sure that, as the heat of flames became unbearable and the smell of her own flesh roasting would have brought vomiting had she still had a working stomach or gullet, no kindly God-figure was waiting to scoop her up from the agonising moments prior to bodily release, and that no subsequent elevation to sainthood could justify treating a human being like a hog-roast.


And what, I ask, about the millions massacred for their beliefs who, through belonging to so-called Heathen sects, do not deserve the Martyr’s Tabard, the footnote in a book of all saints, the appellation of ‘St’ to their names, the showing of their miraculously-preserved bodies in ancient crypts?

Unmarked graves. Unmarked lives. Unmartyred. But horribly dead all the same.


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