Ephesus, Viterbo, Washington

I’ve been thinking a bit on the Council of Ephesus of late. Yes, that Council of Ephesus. The one which upheld the findings of the Council of Nicaea — like that the Son is “begotten” by the Father but “not made” by him (yeah, I know) — against the appalling heresies of Nestorius, who (I barely dare say it) held that Jesus’s divine nature was independent of his human, citing (oh! wiles of the serpent) amongst other things the very same Council of Nicaea which had specifically refuted that the Son was made or changeable, but also stated that He “came down” and was “made man.”

But these minutiae, though well worth thinking upon as your salvation apparently depends upon some fairly acrobatic feats of mental gymnastics, are not what interests me about the Council at present. What interests me is how — as a duly convened ecumenical council, and thus good and holy and the only authority higher than the pope (who, anyway, had yet to realise his infallibility at this point) — the proceedings actually went. Ephesus is rather harder to get to from Antioch, from where the cursed Nestorians were travelling, than it is from Constantinople and Alexandria, from whence came the rightfully-inspired delegates, led largely by St. Cyril, that rightful and holy figure who amongst his other great acts incited the flaying alive and murder of one Hypatia, who had dared to be a Hellenistic philosopher, mathematician, empiricist, and — shockingly — a woman.

I digress. The Alexandrines got to Ephesus rather before the Nestorians, and more-or-less locked and bolted the doors behind them, coming to all their conclusions in advance so that, by the time the heretics arrived, they were presented with a fait accompli. Now, as this was an ecumenical council, and the holiest, highest authority in this sin-laden world, it is inconceivable that this played out other than as the (consubstantial) Father intended. So it occurs to me that we have something of a precedent here, a good and holy one to boot. It also occurs to me that the Republican Party prides itself on its devotion. What better way to resolve the current problems in Washington than to emulate this great moment in Christian history?

Obviously, they are all geographically present already, and I am hardly suggesting the exclusion of the entire GOP, merely the more intransigent members thereof. We all know who they are. But how to separate them out and gently, subtly, effect this policy? I was recently struck by the image in this article in the Guardian of pizza being taken to John Boehner’s office as the representatives went into retreat for further discussions. I’m sure at least one or two of those pizzas will have been ordered with extra grizzly bear. And someone, surely, has a bottle of temazepam to hand…

If all this seems a little disingenuous, then I have another precedent that could be followed. The conclave held in Viterbo to elect a new pope following the death of Clement IV in 1268 lasted, astonishingly, over two years. Finally, the somewhat frustrated civil authorities locked the entire conclave in the papal palace, removed the roof, and reduced their rations on a daily basis until they came to a decision. I can think of no more nobler way to encourage a decision from the Washington lawmakers, en masse. The only question, really, is whether there would be any conceivable advantage to terminating this policy once they had, finally, stopped acting like a bunch of rutting medieval theologians and grown the fuck up.

[Note: I wrote most of this yesterday, before I found out that the Republicans had enacted a little Ephesus of their own.]

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