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Jan Hus: burned at stake in 1415

When I left the U.S., both your humble correspondent as well as America celebrated the Independence Day.

That was no coincidence because the air tickets for all other dates were sold out too early. People apparently think that July 4th is the most likely date for a new large terrorist attack against the U.S. soil. Well, the terrorists think that July 4th is the most attractive day for such an attack but because others know what these terrorists dream about, I feel that July 4th is not such a likely date for a terrorist attack, after all.

There would have been lots of things to write about that have something to do with my transfer to Europe but I personally find blogs filled with similar topics boring. But you may expect that such things will appear later.

When I arrived to Prague, July 5th, it was another holiday: in 863, two orthodox missionaries, Saint Cyril and Methodius, arrived to Great Moravia, an ancient edition of Czechoslovakia, and brought the nation scripture and Christianity translated into a Slavic language. The German Catholic influence from the West has later diminished the religious impact of their visit on Czechoslovakia but the scripture has probably had a more lasting impact.

In order to continue with this holiday rule, July 6th is a Czech national holiday, too. Mr Jan Hus - I chose this name because he is actually referred to as "mistr Jan Hus" - a Czech early protestant - was burned at stake in 1415. He invented diacritics - the accents you find in Czech texts, e.g.

  • Žluťoučký kůň úpěl ďábelské ódy.

This is a standardized sentence - "Cutely yellow horse was groaning devilish odes" - with a high concentration of special characters that was chosen to test diacritics and find out what coding system a given file/server uses. Fortunately, the problems with various incompatible trans-ASCII coding systems have mostly disappeared and they haven't influenced me in any way for years. Mr Jan Hus has also discovered that the sum of angles in a triangle is always equal to three. ;-)

Even though Hus was a religious preacher and about 60% of Czechs don't believe in any God, he has been viewed as a national hero for quite some time. Many Czechs associate him with the building of the Czech national self-confidence against Germany. Communists liked him because of many additional reasons, especially because the hussite movement that was promoting Hus' ideas after he was executed was living according to the rules of communism.

(The hussites were both communists and terrorists who were singing majestic songs to defeat their enemies - but let me admit that I am still more proud about them than ashamed of them.)

And many people like myself like Hus because he was fighting against numerous bad moral characteristics of a certain fashionable establishment of his era and especially against the gigantic hypocrisy of the 15th century Catholic Church - hypocrisy that was only surpassed by Al Gore and his Church around 2005.

The religious impact of both Cyril and Methodius as well as Mr Jan Hus was limited - the Czech nation was mostly a Catholic one for centuries before it became one of the two most secular nations in the world - but people like Cyril, Method, and Hus are always needed.

And that's the memo.

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