Fresh blood for The Holy Grail

Fresh blood for The Holy Grail

Bernhardt

Spare a thought for the Mauerova boys.

Or perhaps don't. Stop reading now if you would rather not hear about a case so grisly and macabre that it will disturb your waking hours for a long time to come. And I know I sound like H.P.Lovecraft.

Can you think of worse headlines for a news item than these:

Cannibal Relatives Ate Boy Alive
Family Feasts On The Flesh Of Their Own Sons
Abused boys 'had skin hacked off and eaten by relatives'

Here is the basic outline of this case. Last year it was discovered that Klara Mauerova from Kurim near Brno in the Czech Republic had locked her two sons Ondrej (8) and Jakub (10) in a cage in the basement, bound and gagged, where she would occasionally invite relatives to hack bits off of the boys and eat them.

Yes, you read that right. Go on.

The captors used a baby monitor camera to watch the children from the kitchen, and it was through a crossed channel that a neighbour using an identical device, witnessed the horrifying scene and alerted the authorities. The case has now come to court.

I've travelled and worked in the Czech Republic, including Moravia, many times in the last five years. It's a great country with nice people, though they tend be a bit dour and guarded with strangers, probably due to a strong family orientation prevalent throughout Eastern Europe. (I'm not sure how 'family' and 'guests' are incompatible but, as Bart Simpson reports, 'In conclusion, [insert country] is a land of contrasts.')

Now that I'm done with the massive generalisations about an entire nation, let me add that I can't think of anything less Czech than this atrocity, or come to think of it, less human.

The Fritzl case, though impressive in its longevity, pales in comparison.

Bock has astutely theorised that Fritzl's psyche was affected by his town's history as the site of a Nazi concentration camp, and coincidentally() there is a Nazi connection here too. But how far must we delve for a fuller explanation of this latest despicable act? The answer is, pretty far actually.

A little history. The writer Oskar Ernst Bernhardt (pictured above) was considered a 'dangerous element' by the Nazis and exiled from Austria in 1938. At first this may seem somewhat odd since his writings were related to the Grail legends which fascinated Hitler, however they also placed a high value on individualism and the natural free will of man–notions anathema to any proto-Fascist regime. Bernhardt was monitored until his death in 1941.

But what of his meisterwerk 'In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message' written during the 1920's? It's a motley collection of essays and lectures about the nature of spirituality and life in general, which ranges over questions of epistemology, human obligations, God's plan, the mind/body dynamic, etc–all wrapped up in obscure Grail mythology.

I would characterise 'In the Light of Truth' as a lighter version of L. Ron Hubbard's 'Dianetics,' a denser version of Kahlil Gibran's 'The Prophet,' a cousin of Ouspensky's 'The Fourth Way,' and an overly complicated rendering of 'The Imitation of Christ' by Tomas á Kempis. I can also save you a lot of time and irritation by suggesting you skip the first four of those, not to mention Bernhardt's well-meaning but rambling treatise.

What has all this to do with the case? Well, fans of Berhardt (who used the pseudonym 'Abu-ru-shin') formed a group called 'The Grail Movement' which still claims as many as 20,000 adherents to this day. Including the Mauerova family.

The leader of this shadowy sect (somehow considered an official religion in the Czech Republic) Jiří Adam was arrested just before this case broke, for keeping five women as slaves for 20 years. Sound familiar?

Spokespersons for The Grail Movement quickly moved to distance themselves from these people and events, claiming that they were part of a 'breakaway' sect. And to be honest, the Movement has such a loose membership and an even looser canon of contradictory New Age dogma(††) , that it's hard to hang any of this on them–even if we knew who 'they' were.

I can offer this observation though: although the twisted perpetrators in this case were acting out some bizarre ritual purely for their own reasons, I assure you the scene was set for this entire enterprise by a zealous and unquestioning belief in religion–in this case manifesting itself as a programming gateway to mind-control.

It is unfortunate that the Scientific-Atheism inelegantly imposed on the native Catholic population of Brno after the communist coup of 1948 may have scored and own goal and led to a religious backlash, part of the 'paradoxical consequences of religious persecution' in a country where the oddly-named discipline of 'Science and Religion' was considered an inextricable pairing.

A softer method of attrition is required if we are to finally excise ourselves of these religious superfluities. Rousing people from the Sleep of Reason is a gentle process.

In conclusion and on a tangential point, although Limerick City will be slightly less colourful without the pantomime of medieval monks strolling about the town, and despite the many good works performed for the community by the Franciscans since arriving here in 1267, I certainly won't mourn the departure from our midst of a religious cult of any stripe. The Jesuits went in 2006, who's left? Dominicans, Redemptorists, Salesians, Carmelites?

I'm also delighted that the Bonaventure Trust, who are charged with the task of administering the Franciscan properties, are also enjoined by the departing Order to promote the study of Catholic theology in Limerick.

Any genuinely rigorous study of Catholic theology is assured only one outcome: a verdict of Pure Bollocks.

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Endnotes:
  1. And apart from the Brünner Todesmarsch [back ↩]
  2. †† You'll find them in this catalogue of disasters, perhaps better termed 'Failures of the Mind' [back ↩]