btripp_books (btripp_books) wrote,
btripp_books
btripp_books

Into the mind of a butcher ...

Needless to say, those who have been following my reading will not be surprised that I had very strong reactions to this book. The destruction that has been wrought world-wide by Christianity (and Islam, and, to some extent, other religions) is numbingly massive. Yucatan Before and After the Conquest is, at base, a document to one of these abominations. Written by Friar Diego de Landa in 1566, this was initially a part of a defense that he was mounting, having been recalled to Spain to face charges of irregularities in his performance of duties as head Franciscan in the Yucatan (not so much for mistreatment of the natives, although this was a charge brought against him by more compassionate clergy at the time, but for having assumed the "rights" of other orders and divisions of colonial management in his crushing the local culture). His defense worked, as he was returned to Yucatan, in a higher post. This Dover edition is a reprint of a 1937 publication by translator William Gates, who is also outspoken in his disgust for Landa:

The position of Diego de Landa in history rests upon two of his acts, one the writing of (this) book ... and the other the famous Auto de fé of July 1562 ...
... It is perhaps not too strong a statement to make, that ninety-nine percent of what we today know of the Mayas, we know as a result of what Landa has told us ... or have learned in the use and study of what he told.
... If ninety-nine hundredths of our present knowledge is at base derived from what he told us, it is an equally safe statement that at that Auto de fé of '62, he burned ninety-nine times as much knowledge of Maya history and sciences as he has given us in his book.
Yes, Landa was the monster responsible for the destruction of every scroll that could be found under his watch, despite having had some translated and speaking highly of their contents (except that their contents were not Christian and so needed to be burned). Gates points out in his notes how oblivious Landa appeared to be to the cognitive dissonance of on one hand commenting on the sophistication and development of the Mayan learning, and on the other hand having no compunction in committing them to the flames. Landa will also praise the bearing and nobility of various Mayan chieftains, in the same breath where he claims their are tools of Satan and noting how he had various of them tortured to death ... with no hint of irony creeping in. How much clearer example can there be of the religious need to hew to doctrine at the expense of reality? Every Christian Church is stained with the blood of innocents, every Christian a karmic participant in the obliteration of whole peoples.

Much like later Soviet agrarian policy, Landa (on behalf of the Spanish crown) destroyed what were millennial-old cultural/farming structures in the interests of bureaucracy, forcibly relocating widely-spread villages (whose size and systems fit to the "carrying capacities" of the land) into Spanish-styled cities, the better to "Christianize" and tax the natives. Extensive famine and death followed. In supporting documents that Gates adds, there are analyses of the official tax rolls of the Yucatan ... between 1549 and 1579 the population (as expressed by the Spanish "take" in officially-demanded tax items) dropped by 80% ... The Spanish over-lords, who had been awarded regions of the Yucatan for their service in the conquest were very vocal in protesting how their revenues had declined by 4/5th over the course of a generation!

It is a miracle that as much of the Mayan culture has survived ... of course Gates could not have known (when positing the 99% figure above) that we would eventually be able to read the glyphs, and find much knowledge (of at least the highly advanced Mayan calendar) encoded in stone carvings which had escaped obliteration at the hands of the Friars ... but the Auto da fé erased so much more. This is a crime on the level of the burning of the Library at Alexandria (also at the hands of a Christian mob!), and should never be forgotten, especially when considering the characters of Popes and their various lackeys.

I highly recommend Yucatan Before and After the Conquest to all and sundry ... it's a glaring light thrown onto the vileness of institutionalized religion, and should shame every Christian (and especially every Catholic) who reads it. This is, thankfully, still in print in the very reasonably priced ($8.95 cover) Dover edition, an should be available through your local brick-and-mortar book vendor. Both Amazon and BN.com have it at cover price (with the new/used vendors being at a disadvantage due to that low cover plus high per-item shipping), so you might put this on the list for pumping up a book order to that free-shipping zone.


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