“Holy Shit” of Terror: Middle Ages & Renaissance

Serial killers are a special kind of breed for law enforcement agencies. This has been a popular germ for numerous movies and countless novels. Detectives investigating serial murders build a profile of the killer based on gathered evidence, then match clues to the profile, which eventually lead them to the identity of the serial killer. In these investigations, the Behavioral Sciences Unit of the FBI plays a major role in the initial profiling.Zodiac_blog_2100x147

Where is An Unquiet Mind going with this, you may wonder.

I am reading Michael Connelly’s A Darkness More Than Night, a regular police procedural.

Among the different types of serial murderers, there is one category of cases where religion is involved. These cases are colloquially termed “Holy Shit” cases by FBI profilers.

Cave Cave Dus Videt
Cave Cave D(ominu)us Videt
Beware Beware God Sees

“Holy Shit,” McCaleb said quietly to himself. It was not said as an exclamation. Rather, it was the phrase he and fellow bureau profilers had used to informally classify cases in which religious overtures were part of the evidence. When God was discovered to be part of the probable motivation for a crime, it became a “holy shit” case when spoken of in casual conversation.

This is where the unquiet mind kicked in full gear. What followed next:

It also changed things significantly, for God’s work was never done. When a killer was out there using His name as part of the imprint of a crime, it often meant there would be more crimes. It was said in the bureau profiling offices that God’s killers never stopped of their own volition. They had to be stopped.

Substitute a mob in place of a serial killer and what you have is a seemingly unstoppable mob society committing mass murder in the name of God. The history of religious violence over thousands of years of human history is proof. Name a religion and there is a group committing mass murder in its name, at any point in human history, past or present.

How about Stalin and Hitler who committed genocide of millions, but were not associated with any religious idealism?

What distinguishes the indescribable atrocities committed by Stalin and Hitler is precisely what Connelly, though unintentionally, observed above. Neither Stalin’s or Hitler’s heirs propagated the genocide. They were stopped, permanently. The ideology behind their actions could not survive reality and the collective human force on the planet. However, in the case of religion, ideology overcomes reality – religious ideology, when it’s God-motivated, is a difficult cockroach to exterminate.

In this and the past century, God-based violence has been decried by the “peace-loving” religious advocates as being positions of “extremist” factions, for whom the religion is “peace-loving”, and is thus, not to blame.

From the past Christian crusades to the current Muslim jihad, from Saffron terror to Sikh extremism, all religions have caused mass-serial-killings on an unimaginable scale. Holy shit.

Observe the nature of change in religious violence. It was easier in medieval eras to isolate and burn heretics on the stake. In the modern world, it’s not so easy, hence one needs to make a public statement of violence against the public in general. Because much of today’s public is “civilized”. The medieval strategies of burning heretics on the stake don’t work in today’s society, so they need to kill on the mass scale to make a statement.

It is called “terrorism” in recent decades, but its roots lie in thousands of years past.

Is human society fully “civilized”? Not at all, most of them still hold one or the other religion as their philosophy of life, while decrying violence on that religion’s behalf.

It took thousands of years for humans to emerge out of the darkness of the Middle Ages, which was followed by the Renaissance. I am just hoping that we evolve out of our current Digital-Middle-Age so that our kids or our grandchildren can achieve peaceful glory and happiness in their Digital Renaissance.

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  • Very Well Explained about the Terrorism, I owe to you. Thanks for sharing this.