The link back from 'it's all going downhill' to' religious thought' is made through the failures of the clergy and the idea that people can, despite incompetent clergy, be saved by their own faith. But some people have been led into the wrong faith, and that brings Langland to Mohammed. He was, apparently, 'a christened man' who aspired  to become Pope. He was frustrated, and therefore set up his own religion. He found a smart way to make people believe that God had spoken to him by training a bird to grains of corn placed in his ear. So observers saw the God-inspired bird talking to him.

Attached to the story is a typical Langland moan about clerical failures. The bird (a Culver) re-appears.

"But on dread of death I dare not tell you                         How our clerks feed a culver, Covetousness, by name     And after the manner of Mohammed."

He finds time to praise the Apostles, early saints and fathers of the church, but can never restrain his critical impulse. Almost always good practice is described  by explaining that it is not followed. So the founders of religious orders (St. Bernard, St. Francis etc.) are used as models which their descendants fail to live up to. Many others get the same treatment, both historical figures and 14th century office-holders

The dominant theme is that people who are poor and ignorant need leadership. But those expected to lead have become obsessed with wealth and status.

"Now there is war and woe and is you ask the reason -    It is coveting the gold cross with the crown upon it.       Both rich and religious hold that rood in honour             Which is engraved on groats and gold nobles."

The church as an organisation is criticised on the same grounds, referring to the financial endowment by Constantine. This has been a contentious matter ever since, many people seeing the massive wealth of the Catholic church as contradictory to the life style of Jesus Christ.

"When the kindness of Constantine gave Holy Church endowments
In lands and leases, lordships and servants,
The Romans heard an angel cry on high above them;
'This day dos ecclesiae has drunk venom
And all who have Peter's power are poisoned forever'."

If all the errors could be put right, and all bishops, prelates and priests did their work well, then, Langland thinks, salvation would be possible for a range of folk who are half-way there in their belief.

"But Pharisees and Saracens, Scribes and Greeks           Are folk of one faith and hold the Father in honour.       And since the Saracens as well as the Hebrews               Know the clause of our creed, 'I believe in God.....'         Prelates of Christian provinces should also teach them 'and in Jesus Christ his son'."    

Langland (Anima) thinks monotheists are commendable but can't make it into heaven without believing the Christian message. They need an evangelist.

                               MESSAGE FROM GOD



                   AND IN JESUS CHRIST HIS SON

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