Sunday, January 22, 2012


The word "Inquisition" originally meant a formal time of questioning in search for the truth. In the 1300's, however, the Pope used that word to describe a series of heresy trials he conducted across Europe.

The proceedings were formal and considered legal by the church. However, the accused had no rights in the trial, did not know the charges against him and was denied any defense. The goal of the proceedings was for the accused to confess his error, repent and be restored into the good graces of Mother Church.

Punishment for the non-repentant was death by public burning at the stake. If, as the fires were lighted at the feet of the condemned, he showed any sign of repentence, he was given a more merciful death: his throat was slit to hasten his demise before the flames consumed his body!

Two hundred years later in Spain, the process of Inquisition gained a new level of notoriety and terror. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had finally banished all the (Moslem) Moors from their land and had forced all Jews either into exile or conversion to Christianity. They convinced the Pope to mind his own business and let them take care of their own heretics.

The Spanish Inquisition discovered that the quickest and most reliable way to move an accused heretic to confess his sins was by torture. They perfected various forms of external persuasion: an early form of water-boarding, "holding the feet" of the accused "to the fire," suspending the condemned up off the floor by a chain connected only to his upward-extended arms.

Punishment for the non-repentant was always the same: death by public burning at the stake. Some historians estimate that perhaps as many as 2000 hapless Spaniards - of both genders and all ages – died in this way before the practice fell out of favor in 1530. Statistics are not available on death penalities administered by Inquisition courts in Spanish colonies in the New World.

What, you may wonder, does this have to do with anything? I don’t know. However, after nearly two weeks of confinement against my will and torturous misery, I’ve concluded that I must have unknowingly offended the high priests of the "├»nfluenza gods!" They snatched me away into the prisons of the Influenza Inquisition, where I languished without help or hope.

The initial capture was so sudden and sinister that I hardly remember it at all. I felt cool and began to chill; everything ached and I was totally energy-less. I remember wondering, "Is this how it feels to be dying?" For two and a half days I did not know where I was, who I was, or whether I really was at all!

Then, of course, there was the misery. There was not a part of my body that did not ache! But, how clever are those viral torturers of the Influenza Inquisition! Instead of importing tools of torture from the outside, they just turned my natural body processes against me! They invited in some of their bad bacterial buddies to join in the misery-making. The "bacteria boys" seemed to prefer my throat, neck, ears and sinuses! Eating became yet another new kind of torture.

The only questions being asked in this Influenza Inquisition were my own: "What did I do to deserve this?" "Why me?" "Where did I catch this?" "Why am I being tortured like this?" "What am I guilty of?" "What heresy do you want me to admit to? I don’t care what it is, I’ll confess to it!"

After three days of this on-going torture, I decided to appeal to a Higher Power. I called the doctor! He was not the least bit intimidated by my viral and bacterial torturers. He checked me over, did a blood test to determine that there was, indeed, a bacterial infection as well as the flu.

Then he pulled out his 21st century arsenal of anti-illness miracles: a shot of antibiotic, and prescriptions for a Z-Pak and high powered cough medicine. He sent me home and kicked the Influenza Inquisition back out into outer space where I hope it stays for all eternity! Now, sixteen days after the beginning of this nightmare, I am regaining power over my own bodily well-being little by little!  Thank God (the real, true One, that is!), I am finally recuperating from my recent trial by virus!

22 Jan 2012 - mshr