|Hey Gordon, got a light?|
To quote All the President's Men, I was at a party once and (G. Gordon) Liddy put his hand over a candle, and he kept it there. He kept it right in the flame until his flesh was burned. Somebody said, “What’s the trick?” And Liddy said, “The trick is not minding.”
|O'Toole as Lawrence: "The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."|
If Mr. Liddy said that, he was of course quoting T. E. Lawrence, or at least the character played by Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. [Academy, you owe the man an Oscar and the clock is ticking.] Nonetheless, the hand in the flame is a time-honored demonstration of commitment. Some see it as evidence of insanity, too, including William Mark Felt, Sr., more famously known as Deep Throat, the mole in Nixon's White House.
|It takes a big fig leaf to cover those colei.|
Barlaam fits in after Mucius but before Lawrence and Liddy. Arrested during the Great Persecution of Diocletian (when the whole Who's Who in Christianity was rounded up and put to fire, sword, or wild beast), Barlaam was put to the usual tortures to force apostasy. He was shown the bloody instruments which had taken his brothers and sisters in Christ. He was scourged, and then racked. Praefects can be proud sometimes, and resistance can piss them off. Somehow, Barlaam's rustic speech and humble demeanor got under this guy's skin. He resolved that he would force Barlaam to put incense into the fire rather than just kill him.
|Barlaam: fist full of incense|
Even praefects have enough sense to know when they've been beaten. The more of a stage you give to a guy like Barlaam, the more glory accrues to the God of the Trinity rather than to Jupiter and the Capitoline Pantheon (or Zeus and the Olympians, since they were out in Antioch). Barlaam got the sword, the palm, and the crown of martyrdom.