Daily Archives: July 14, 2022

More Rousseau

Jack wrote this in September, 2006:

 The Confessions is slow going at the moment, not because it isn’t a worthy read.  It’s just having to compete with other activities at the moment.As a young man, Rousseau traveled all over the European continent afoot, mostly broke and living off his luck and his imagination.  Luckily for him, Christianity was feeling a lot of competition with itself, Catholics losing ground to young Protestantism.  Because he’d been reared in Switzerland, he was predisposed to Calvinism by birthright.

So, when he fled his apprenticeship and ended up in a territory predominantly Catholic, the Church sent him off to Turin to be instructed, examined by the Inquisition, prepared for conversion, where he arrived dead broke.

Rousseau wasn’t overjoyed when he entered the hospice for catechumens for instruction in his new faith and they double locked a large barred gate behind him after he entered.  “This introduction struck me as more imposing than agreeable,” he remembers.

He describes the room where he meets his fellows:  “In this assembly room were four or five frightful villains – my fellow students – who seemed to be rather the devil’s constables than aspirants to the honor of sons of God.  Two of these rascals were Slavonians, who called themselves Jews, or Moors, and as they confessed to me, spent their life in wandering through Spain and Italy embracing Christianity and submitting to be baptized where they found it worth their while.”

Meanwhile, the women enter:  “Through this door our sisters entered, catechumens who like myself, were to be born again, not by means of baptism, but by a solemn abjuration of their faith.  They were certainly the greatest sluts and most disgusting vagabonds who ever contaminated the sheepfold of the Lord.”

After sufficient time of being instructed, sexually assaulted, vilified for reporting it, Rousseau and his fellow pupils are accepted into the arms of Catholicism and he again finds himself without funds and without a means of supporting himself.

I’ll probably describe more of this sixteen-year-old and his trials alone in a strange country before all the excitement of the French Revolution and Napoleon I got everything wockyjawed, sometime later.  But I began this entry intending to tell a couple of his anecdotes a bit later and became so submerged in nuts and bolts of his conversion to Catholicism I’ve lost my direction.

Guess I’ll have to tell you another time about his thoughts on taxes and his innocent involvement with a Greek ‘monk’ traveling across Europe selling the snake-oil of restoration of the Holy Sepulcher to the royalty in each country.  When they encountered someone at court who’d been to Jerusalem Rousseau narrowly avoided sharing a dungeon cell with the Greek.  Fortunately, probably because of his youth, they believed the truth.  Namely that he believed the Greek was legitimate and that his role as interpreter was played in good faith.

But enough for now.