Thursday, March 06, 2008

Galileo story in The Times references ultra-traditionalist Catholic crackpot

A London Times report on a new Galileo statue at the Vatican reprinted Galileo's recantation of heliocentrism.

According to the article, the text of the recantation was taken from Solange Strong Hertz's Beyond Politics: A Meta-Political View of History.

Those who have visited the stygian realm of Catholic ultra-traditionalism will recognize Solange Hertz's name from The Remnant newspaper.

At times Hertz sounds like a Tolkienesque crunchy conservative. "Divinely created natural substances like wood, stone, fibers and leathers are giving way increasingly to artificially produced plastics of every description," she says.

This is followed by a denunciation of a new science "built on the errors of Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein which ignores divine revelation on principle." An adamant defender of geocentrism, her book Beyond Politics attacks the Copernican system as a whole.

The advocacy of natural materials over plastic is itself preceded in her speech by a denunciation of electricity:
In this new order, water, the primordial substance on which both natural and supernatural life depend, is being superseded by electricity. The unity once supplied by the Holy Ghost residing in the souls of men through their Baptism in Christ is now generated physically by a world network of electronic communication, whose new international language is no longer the Greek, Latin or Hebrew affixed to the Holy Cross, but universal English, the language of the United States.

While this contrast between Creation and technology evidences a poetic mind, Hertz does not stop at suggestive Romantic imagery. In Hertz, one can observe this "crunchy-con" spirit gone mad. A reviewer on summarizes one point from Beyond Politics:
Electricity is Satanic, illuminating the world with a false generated light, which in fact is Satan's darkness. Hertz believes electricity was in use by occult illuminates who built Atlantis and the Tower of Babel and was temporarily lost to most of humanity after the Flood and the overthrow of Babel. Hertz says the Bible does not "mention sizzling" when the circuits were burnt out during the Flood but concludes these technologies were in use since the beginning of time.

Did I mention this book was cited in The Times?

It is possible that the attribution of the Galileo text is itself erroneous. The text could have been taken from this CUNY page, which does not specifically cite Hertz as the source of the text. The CUNY page refers to a 1999 page at the Modern History Sourcebook, which does not attribute the text to Hertz. The Modern History Sourcebook does cite Hertz, but in a separate page about the Galileo trial, found here.

But couldn't The Times writer have gone to a real library, or even Google Books?

It is bad enough when media coverage of Galileo recycles the superficial spirit of bad nineteenth-century historiography. Including Hertz's work simply takes the discussion into the Twilight Zone.

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