John Calvin (1509-1564)
By Richard E. Noble
Ahh yes, Little Johnny Calvin, his dad was a prosperous middle class, money maker. It is interesting that the fact the John's father was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for embezzlement is hardly ever mentioned as a possible encouragement for Johnny's Protestant reformist zeal. But, nevertheless, somewhere between the ages of seven and eleven Pop had little Johnny already set up as a chaplain in some church, making bucks. John was then sent to Paris to study and learn about God. The Religious institution at which he studied is described by Erasmus as a prison and torture chamber for the Godly inclined youth of the day.
Little Johnny stayed with uncle Jacques a blacksmith. It was an accepted notion that a few deep scares on the back or buttocks was good for a young man's character, and uncle Jacques supplied little Johnny with just that kind of “character”. At school they were also starved, beaten and abused, many a youth died before graduation or left, diploma in hand, in a state of disease, crippled, or with leprosy. (And I thought that the Nuns, Brothers, and Priests of my education days were tough? Pheww!)
Johnny graduated somewhere between the age of fourteen or nineteen. He was alive but in bad physical condition. Physically, a wreak, he went off to law school. He left law school on graduation day through a window, running for his life. He had taken up with the Protestants, many of whom were currently being bar-b-qued or disemboweled for their lack of “Faith”.
Well, by now Johnny was a confirmed psychopath. He believed that every man, woman and child currently on the planet, or who had ever been alive deserved to be in hell, and that it was a darn good God who had the courage to see that this would be the case. If there be any few humans who were going to be allowed into heaven it was due to the kindness and charity of a benevolent God, and certainly not because they had done anything to deserve it.
This was nothing new philosophically or theologically. This was the revival of the theories of another ancient sadomasochist ... Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine even recanted to crimes that he had committed against God while still in the crib! And once again we were talking about the “elect” and the “chosen” people. How do you know if you are one of the chosen? Well, if you have a big bank account and you are presently driving a Porsche, you are probably one of the chosen.
Johnny didn't like philosophers. They thought too much, and made everything too confusing. They were always arguing, and to argue with little Johnny was to slap Jesus Christ, Himself, right in the face.
If you laughed at one of Johnny's sermons in Geneva where he was now “Pope”, you could find yourself in prison. If you disagreed with any of his religious notions you might find yourself bar-b-qued or beheaded, drawn and quartered, and set out on a street corner as an example to others.
Johnny was as sure that he had the backing of God Almighty as he was that the earth was the center of the universe around which the sun and the heavens all revolved. And if you disagreed with that the interest payment on any loans you might have gotten from any of the “elect” could be automatically doubled.