Monday, December 26, 2016

St. Stephen & Miguel Servet

Today is the feast of St. Stephen.

Stephen is known in Christian circles as Christianity's first martyr.

The whole concept of martyrdom is rather confusing, even today.  There is a story in another religion (Unitarianism) about its first (and presumably only) "martyr".  In 1531, a Spanish doctor (Miguel Servet) wrote a book that frustrated the religious authorities.  He quits being a doctor and goes across the continent to engage the powers in discussion.  The powers warn him to shut up and not come back.  He leaves, but fails to shut up and actually returns, which forces the hand of the authorities, and he ends up finding himself executed for his bother.

Martyr or kinda stupid?

Malcom X
Stephen took on the religious powers as well.  Told them that they were missing the whole point of their religion.  Not a good idea.  The Book of Acts tells the story, starting in Chapter 6 and taking up the majority of Chapter 7.  The beginning of Chapter 7 is the tipping point where they say to him:  "What do you have to say for yourself."  He goes on to tell them off and - surprise - gets himself killed for his trouble.

Assuming both Servetus and Stephen were of sound mind, both of these are clearly cases of suicide by authority.  We call them martyrdom because it makes us feel good.

I find it impossible to find any value in suicide by authority.  If someone really was fighting for justice, they would be under moral imperative to live to fight another day. 

St. Stephen and Miguel Servet were not the same as Martin Luther King, Jr., Patrice Lumumba or Malcom X.

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