The Fire and the Light: A Novel of the Cathars and the Lost Teachings of Christ

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9780981648477: The Fire and the Light: A Novel of the Cathars and the Lost Teachings of Christ

As the 13th century dawns, an ancient scroll kept hidden in the French Pyrenees is rumored to hold shocking revelations about Jesus of Nazareth. A charismatic Cathar holy woman must defy Rome to preserve the truth. Christianity is about to enter its darkest hour and emerge forever changed.

Set against a richly detailed backdrop of religious persecution and political rivalries during the infamous Albigensian Crusade, this is a fictionalized interpretation of the life of Esclarmonde de Foix, one of the most remarkable women in history. As a leader of a heretical sect of pacifist mystics called Cathars, or 'Pure Ones,' she ignites the enmity of Pope Innocent III by challenging the Church's venality and corruption. When Esclarmonde's fame grows after public disputations between the Cathars and the legates of Rome, the Pope retaliates with a brutal forty-year war in Occitania that culminates with the nine-month siege of Montsegur, the Cathar Masada.

Threaded with skillfully intertwined plot lines that bring to life the fascinating characters of this bloody era, The Fire and the Light weaves an unforgettable tapestry of poignant love stories, monastic corruption, Templar intrigue, troubadour espionage, mysteries of the Holy Grail and the Tarot, and epic siege battles that reshaped the kingdom of France and paved the path to the Reformation.

This timely novel about the Cathar Joan of Arc offers a cautionary tale for those who insist that militant theocracy and terror in the name of God could never take root in the modern West. It also challenges traditional beliefs about the origins of Christianity and the controversial role of women in the priesthood.

Publisher's Note: First edition hardback is out-of-print. Current print version is the 2nd edition paperback (2015).

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From the Author:

As the subtitle indicates, this is a work of historical fiction, not academic scholarship. In writing it, I took as my lodestar the admonition of historian Zoe Oldenbourg:

"If the centuries had preserved the work of some Catharist Vaux de Cernay, telling the deeds and gestes of his spiritual leaders, the miracles God had wrought on their behalf, and describing the grandeur of their work, then no doubt the Crusade would present a radically different appearance to us."

Implicit in this lament is the possibility, if not likelihood, that "history" has failed to provide us with the complete story of the Cathars. It thus falls to the historical novelist to imagine what might have happened, but cannot be proven.

As I detail more fully in my Author's Note, I have used suppositions, creations, interpretations, and certain variances from the few contemporaneous accounts and records of the Crusade. Readers who prefer their history remain untarnished and--and yes, perhaps at times even undistorted in the good-faith attempt--by the bending lens of fiction, who reject the possibility that medieval "facts" winnowed through the sieve of time may not be as reliable as one might wish, who find fanciful the suggestion that a persecuted religious group may not have divulged all of their esoteric practices in surviving writings, or who may be offended by certain venerated persons being reimagined or dramatized in a manner that conflicts with their own accepted history, traditions, and religious beliefs, would perhaps be best advised to pass by this novel.

There are two modern camps opposed in the interpretation of the Cathars and their beliefs. Many dismiss as New Age nonsense any Cathar involvement with the Holy Grail, mysticism, and the Tarot. Others see a thread running from more ancient esoteric traditions. Readers should study the arguments on both sides.

Jane Austen understood the plight of the historical novelist when she had her heroine in Northanger Abbey remark of history, "I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. . ."

For independent-minded readers, who will take to heart my suggestion that they also consult other works on the Albigensian Crusade and draw their own conclusions about the controversies that still swirl from that period, I would ask you to approach this novel armed with the wisdom of author Tim O'Brien, who wrote about another war in his "How to Tell a True Story":

"A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth."

About the Author:

Glen Craney is an award-winning screenwriter, novelist, journalist, and lawyer. He was honored with the Nicholl Fellowship prize by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences for outstanding new screenwriting.

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Glen Craney
Editore: Brigid's Fire Press (2008)
ISBN 10: 0981648479 ISBN 13: 9780981648477
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