The ongoing post-publication additions to “You’re My Dawg, Dog: A Lexicon of Dog Terms for People.”
Dogs of God
An art card designer in Sarasota emailed the untrue, ostensibly humorous claim that the etymology of Dominicans (as in Friars) is Domini canes or “dogs of God.”
It’s untrue because the eponymous order was founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman in France, in 1216. But the sobriquet — and here you need to think not of your adorable cockapoo, but of the slavering, slave-rending creatures of Django Unchained — was in widespread and popular use for centuries and, it turns out, was well-earned.
Although the order claims such luminaries as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, and the artists Fra Angelico and Fra Bartolommeo, its members made their rep as masters of the thumb screw and rack when exacting confessions during the Spanish Inquisition. Dominican top dog, Tomas Torquemada, was the Inquisition’s chief henchman. As our very own Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Inquisitors got their authority from the White House, so had Torquemada’s approval for torture and public burnings come from the highest up years before, okayed by Pope Innocent IV, who was no more innocent than Bush and Rumsfeld.
Then there was the Dominican Savonarola, who popularized bonfires of the vanities — conflagrations in which went paintings and sculpture, musical instruments, books, cosmetics, mirrors, nice clothes and innumerable other artifacts of civilization, collectively defined by him as “occasions for sin.”
Founded to combat heresy, over the centuries the Dominicans were unceasing in their efforts to thwart humanism wherever it reared its ugly head — even to burning at the stake their greatest mind, the legendary scientific thinker Giordano Bruno. Of course, they also burned Talmuds and any other Hebrew books they could find, and issued anti-Jewish polemics every other day. One of their specialties was preaching the infamous “blood libel” accusation, charging Jews with using the blood of Christian children for their Passover celebrations, and inspiring their flocks to commit atrocities great and small in Jewish communities.
Currently, the Dominican order is recognized for producing important biblical scholars, and has established churches and monasteries in Israel, and their role as moral police, book burners, and attackers of free-thinking people has been assumed by every breed of fundamentalist — Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist, as well as Christian. Muslim lunatics get most of the press for their death-loving bellicosity, their in-your-face misogyny, embrace of theocracy, suppression of free speech, and intolerance of any but their own medieval religious practice. A year or so ago, Muslims in Indonesia were firebombing churches because the law forbidding Christians from using “Allah” to identify the one god of us all had been declared unconstitutional.
But the rabid religious dogs are not just the bearded, women-whippers who closed a dinosaur exhibit this past January in a Saudi mall, or the Pakistani TV personalities who have been boosting ratings this month by raiding parks to catch dating couples, or the Iranians enthusiastically and regularly stoning to death women (note: only the women) who commit adultery in violation of Sharia; or the Egyptian Salafi preacher who recently approved raping women protesters in Tahrir Square since they were protesting the Muslim Brotherhood. They also include the Hindus who murdered 300 Muslims in Ahmadabad, India, last year, burning families alive in their homes in order to express their desire to build a temple where a destroyed mosque had been, and the Buddhists in Sri Lanka who, a few weeks ago, attacked Muslims because they don’t like Halal dietary rules, and the Haredi Jews in Beit Shamesh, Israel, who post signs instructing women not to walk on the same side of the street as men, and who not long ago engaged in an attack of spitting and verbal abuse at an 8-year-old girl for being dressed “immodestly.” Ultra-orthodox Jews also share ignorance-promoting, anti-modernist honors with fundamentalist Christians in insisting that the Universe is 5,000 years old, that evolution is fiction, and creationism should be taught in our schools.
In short, today you find God’s dogs in every major religion, in all sizes, shapes and costumes; but nothing can disguise their vicious ignorance, and they all need to be kept chained and closely monitored. And if you are drawing a connection between the dogs of god and the hungry dogs in the basement discussed in my last blog, I suspect you are right.