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The Defenestration of Prague

April 1, 2010

Self-righteous religious folks really make me mad.  Do not attempt to force your moral “code” on me.  If I want converting, I’ll come see you.  There are so many hypocrites in this pool of “Christians” that it’s like shooting fish in a barrel to point out even a small selection of transgressions by the high and mighty.  While I hesitate to use the word “recent” because it’s most definitely been going on for way, way, way too long – the recent microscopic review the Catholic Church is undergoing is a prime example.  Then, yesterday and today, cue the apologists!  They litter our retinas and ear canals with disingenuous arguments because heaven forbid the Vatican itself make a response. 

As my office mate said this morning, where in the hell does the Catholic Church get its moral superiority to tell me how to live my life when it can’t even get its own kitchen in order.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Catholicism aside, there is one particular group of folks that really drive me to see red, Fred Phelps and his nasty little gang of hate-filled “parishioners.”  They are in the news due to a lawsuit filed by a grieving father that had to endure their nastiness at his son’s funeral.  And now he has to pay their attorney fees, which in this humble blogger’s opinion is pure and utter crap since attorney fees are usually only awarded for particularly frivolous lawsuits.  This lawsuit, while a true test of any rational person’s First Amendment convictions, is not frivolous as the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.  This prime example of self-hating band of idiots brings to mind my favorite word- defenestrate, or as a nominalization, defenestration.  Go ahead and say it: de-fen-is-trate.  It just trips off the tongue. 

To defenestrate someone means that you have decided that they need to be thrown out of a window.  The word comes from (according to Webster’s) de + fenestra, Latin for window.

There were several separate incidents in the history of Prague that are termed the Defenestration of Prague– 1419, 1483, 1618, and, surprisingly, 1948.  I guess there is a certain Czech cache to assassinating folks without the need to get yourself messy.  The ones in 1419 and 1618 tend to be the “biggies” and it is the second of those two that I remember from high school history and is the one I focus on today. 

In 1609, Emperor Rudolf II issued a Letter of Majesty, allowing freedom of religious expression to the people of Bohemia (the older name for the region surrounding Prague), namely granting Protestants the freedom to be, well, Protestant, rather than Catholic.  In 1617, some Roman Catholic officials ordered a halt to the construction of Protestant churches, claiming the land the churches were to be built on as belonging to the Catholic Church.  The Protestants, as you might imagine, disagreed, claiming the land as royal lands, and therefore open for their use.  In addition, ordering the churches’ construction to halt was considered a blatant stepping on of good old Rudolf’s Letter of Majesty.

In May of 1618, at Prague Castle, two imperial governors, charged with violating the Letter of Majesty, were tried by an assembly of Bohemian nobles.  They were found guilty and they, plus their unfortunate scribe, were hurled unceremoniously out of the window.  While the approximately 100 foot fall might be enough to kill some folk, these three landed in a pile of manure in a dry moat and lived to tell the tall.  With a remarkable sense of irony, the emperor later made the scribe, Philip Fabricius, a noble.  His new title?  von Hohenfall, which means “of Highfall.”  Fitting really.

Another less humorous outcome of this incident was it became one of the myriad causes of the Thirty Years’ War. 

As a side bar, the Kevin Costner “classic” Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves features a defenestration as well, when Friar Tuck pushes that nasty greedy priest/bishop out of the window at the end of the film.  Apparently it’s not just for Czech Catholics!

The Defenestration of Prague- let this history lesson warn you from pissing off the hyper-religious while several stories high and standing near an open window.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Samantha Santiago permalink
    April 2, 2010 1:21 am

    I just want to point out that because there is a group that call themselves Christians, doesn’t mean they actually are. Also extremists groups are not a proper representation of the whole. That would be saying all Puerto Ricans are loud…well I guess in my case that isn’t a good example.
    A true Christian bases their faith on love. When I saw the Phelps ordeal on GMA this morning, I was sitting in my living room crying as I watched it and then I saw all the lewd things that were written on their shirts and on their signs I had no idea what those people were, but I do know one thing, they are NOT Christians. God is not hate.
    A true Christian follows in the footsteps of Jesus and Jesus didn’t hang around uppity self righteous people. He hung around the common people, he hung around sinners preaching love. I myself am a christian and I try to never judge anyone, I don’t use my faith as a reason to talk bad about others, or look down at other people. I definitely live in a glass house and therefore could never cast the first stone.
    Those Phelps followers are disturbed and I’ll be closely watching the case when it goes in front of the Supreme Court in October, praying that they overturn the appellate court and affirm the lower courts decision that those crazies did indeed impede on that poor father’s right to grieve the loss of his son who fought to protect our rights.

    • April 2, 2010 1:47 pm

      I think you are absolutely spot on in the identification of a warping of the meaning of faith by those who only use it to persecute those they hate, which is a decidedly un-Christian like behavior. I highlight these two groups precisely because they are tarring the larger Christian community with their misdeeds. The bishops continue to defend the perpetrators and the Phelps clan continues to portray themselves as the true believers. I think we all live in glass houses, and would be well-served to remember that, especially at the moment when faith turns to attempting to impose your moral convictions on the broader populice. I understand the nature of Christianity and the tenant of “prostelitizing” (in the most neutral meaning of the word) the good news of Jesus. But the Phelps clan really does believe that they are doing God’s work, and that’s the worst part.
      As you rightly noted, Jesus is love, and acceptance of other’s faults. It is not hate, and it is not abuse.

      I do disagree in part on the court case though, I believe deeply in the First Amendment and the hate-mongers have a constitutional right to stand at least 300 feet (I think that’s the law) away from the funeral holding their signs. They do not, however, have the right to be vocally disruptive, violent, or the like- any incitement to violence should absolutely be disallowed. I understand and abhor the vicious and hateful quality of the signs, but the First Amendment pushes us to allow that which rends our soul in order that we too may have the right to speak as we wish.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I wish and hope more Christians would speak out against those that use Jesus to promote hate, it all of its myriad forms.

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