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Constantine's Sword The Church and the Jews

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“A rare book that combines searing passion with a subject that has affected all of our lives” Chicago TribuneNovelist cultural critic former priest James Carroll marries history with memoir as he maps the 2000 year course of the. Dear James Carroll Although you kindly gave me your email address I purposely have not written you in the nearly seven years since meeting you at your 2011 lecture series at Emory University and the reason I have not is that I hadn't read your work any of it Now I have I've just completed Constantine's Sword What's I've read it over a period of six months with a group that has been reading and studying it together and not only that I put together our notes and study uestions each month So yes now I've indeed read Constantine's SwordBut to which you am I writing You published Constantine's Sword which I'll now begin abbreviating as CS in 2001 as a journey of discovery self confrontation atonement and challenge but you had reached that point on your journey ten years before I met you By now you've undoubtedly gone on beyond where you were in 2011 So first of all the you to whom I'm writing is the you with whom I've been in intimate conversation over the past six months the you of CSAt the outset I want to say that I consider you a hero Adam Gopnik once wrote that at critical points the integrity of institutions depends on the integrity of individuals; the fragile integrity He was talking about the courage of such individuals of which I consider you one That is important for me to say since I do have uibbles with the book but that's what they are uibbles and do not take away from your monumental achievementIn 2011 I asked you if you received pushback from your church by which I meant the institution not your local church and you said no but maybe I phrased my uestion wrong since in the book you do mention that your witness sometimes has been uestioned by those who might consider you just another anti papal troublemaker I don't doubt that you do have support and you must have a strong internal support system too for taking on an institution is not for the faint of heart Or rather it's not about taking on an institution but about standing up to one and when you're talking beyond Catholicism to Western Christianity and in a sense Western civilization you are brave and strong Most of us can't stand up to our institutions We think we could but we don'tNext on to my uibbles The first is the way you explain how the Christian New Testament became anti Jewish I resonated with your explanation of your family's misremembering of your uncle as a hero of Irish independence when actually he died fighting for Britain in WWI how with subseuent events Irish people no longer could imagine much less remember that not so distant ancestors had been British patriots I also groaned as you explained how the British solved their Irish problem in part by putting Irish soldiers on the front lines during that war I also think I understood John Dominic Crossan's history remembered vs prophecy historicized I think too that this way of reaching your conclusion must have been acceptable to you by which I mean compatible with your faith important since the need to rehearse it arose at a number of points throughout the book And I certainly agree with the conclusion you reached stated most strongly when you referred to the New Testament's pinning the death of Jesus on the Jews as the first blood libel Yet I found your explanation labored and difficult to get my mind around Your hands may have in part been tied by having to believe all the Gospel writers were Jews and therefore their anti Jewish rhetoric takes on aspects of a family spat instead of something worse Not all scholars accept that now but even if they did some people might say fights between family are the most terrible of all And so too can be the attitude toward a group by those who have left it Also you may have been encumbered by your assumption that early Christians hated Rome as much as the Jews did when they may have forgotten that hatred sooner rather than later My other main uibble is with your treatment of Marx and his father First the father how is becoming a lawyer instead of a rabbi an act of rebellion against his own father Before Napoleon's impact could he have even been a lawyer; wouldn't he have been tied to either trade or Talmud You're so hard on him Also I read elsewhere in Jerry Muller's The Mind and the Market Capitalism in Western Thought published two years after CS that after the Rhineland came under Prussian auspices the elder Marx tried to get grandfathered in to the practice of law while remaining a Jew but he was turned down and only then went to the baptismal font as Heine might have said I did not get the impression he jumped at conversion out of ambition shrugging his Judaism off like an old coat And if he had a family to feed was keeping his profession simply a matter of ambition Yes I've felt sad about his peeling away from Judaism but coping with a hostile majority culture is so hard that I'm reluctant to condemn people for their decisions particularly in this case in which I haven't heard he was selling anyone down the river to save himselfAs to Karl Marx himself his language evokes responses such as yours leading to much confusion so that various Europeans were and are trying to differentiate their capitalism from heartless or exploitive reducing to Jewish capitalism It may well be that his language was an unintended defense against the perceived scandal of his origins However I understand from Muller that Marx was playing on two words first Judentum which in German could mean either Jews Judaism or business jewing and Schacher which was used to mean either huckstering or usury and was associated primarily with Jews What I understand is that Marx was saying that all capitalism that is all modernity with its market economy is Jewdom and based on jewing and that the Jew is emancipated in the sense that the entire world is now Jewdom And so according to Marx all capitalism all of modern society is by definition bad Despite his language he is against not Jews but bourgeois society in its entirety Thus per Marx modernity is untenable and Marxism too as you say about fascist and Catholic totalitarianism harks backward toward a pre modern ideal Finally you portray Marx as somehow the culmination of the Enlightenment the secular Enlightenment whose political champion is Karl Marx p 502 in the paperback and that is a new one on me While according to Marxism capitalism may culminate in Marxism I can't see Marx representing the epitome of the EnlightenmentOkay so much for the uibbles The appreciations could go on indefinitely I'd have to rewrite the book here So let me go with the appreciations that come up first for me realizing they are not all and emphasizing the aspects that are new to meYou say that even though the Christian scriptures do blame Jews for the death of Jesus Jews only became central to the faith after the focus in the West shifted to the crucifixion and thus to the cross which happened with Constantine I think many people have heard that the early focus was on life and its symbols the egg the fish for example or the waters of baptism and not on death not on how that happened through the promulgation of Constantine's story and later his mother Helena's You say the political implications of his conversion are known but that his impact on the religion and culture are not since much of it is the way we think now and therefore taken for granted Constantine's legendary victory was in 312 his story as commonly told was generated by the bishop Eusebius originated in 325 You said he was no underdog his conversion being calculated and strategic For Constantine the rivalries in Christianity reflected those in the Empire not to mention those in his family and needed to be stamped out He saw himself from the point of view of heaven as God's regent bringing order out of chaos but the view on the ground was of a totalitarian And so Eusebius' rendition no objective biography made Constantine a new Moses and celebrated the divinely ordained union of the Church and the Empire with the newly central cross both as triumphal insignia and as means of salvation You go so far as to say Constantine surpassed even the caesars in doing what they could not do and eliminating Jewish political autonomy As Christianity's political star rose the status of Jews correspondingly sank essentially until 1948 Subseuently the bishop Ambrose used Helena's legend of finder of the True Cross to hammer the nail into the coffin With the corresponding centrality of relics every sliver of wood from the cross every nail in it could become another nail of proof against the alleged perpetrators and a triumphal sign of victory And thus the best defense being a good offense did Christianity take arms against the conflict at its heart that Judaism did not accept the Jewish messiah proclaimed by ChristianityThat reminds me that Amy Jill Levine the rock star of interfaith study and interaction has told a story of how she used to resent the name Old Testament that is until she became old and then it didn't sound so bad Likewise I had to laugh when while studying this stuff I acuired a watch whose brand name is Relic Well now that I'm a relic maybe relic doesn't sound so badOh man it's hard to do this without going into every detail and then I don't know when I'll finish Let me just say that subseuently Augustine countered the lethal conseuences of Ambrose's and Chrysostom's ideology with a double edged sword that saved Jews in their immediate situation but as you're fond of saying came with a fuse He came up with the idea that Jews needed to be kept around in a denigrated state to prove they had lost and were despised by God but at the same time they shouldn't be killed or forcibly converted since they needed to be kept around as proof of the truth of Christianity Oh the rationales people come up with Now that's a balancing act that's hard to maintain and explodes from time to time preach hate and forbearance Partly because of it there are thirteen or fourteen million Jews in the world rather than the hundred million or so that might be projected from their numbers in the Roman empire But partly because of it there are some Jews in existence as opposed to having been absorbed or eliminatedAnd the part about the double standard on suffering that when Christians suffer it's redemptive; while when Jews suffer it's reflecting God's curseAnd the urge among Christians to define Judaism so as to bolster conclusions already reached; how any Christian feels authorized to say what Judaism isIt's a relief to have such perspectives out in the openI also appreciated your point that when the church is weak vulnerable and defensive it's rough times ahead for the Jews Which puts me in mind of taking karate when I was 29 and having as a sparring partner an old man in his late 50s He couldn't kick all that high and God were my shins bruised I think it's in the context of a needy power seeking church that you're looking at the rise of ultramontanism a good cocktail party word meaning power to the Pope and the new doctrine of papal infallibility subseuent to the advances of modernism and the Church's profound reduction in worldly power after the late 18th century I should capitalize when it's about Roman Catholicism in particular that I'm talking I also appreciated your pointing out the usefulness of fanning the flames of both piety and Jew hatred for reconnecting with a disaffected populace Somewhere you said faith becomes politicsYou also pointed out the unity inherent in Spinoza's thinking and Descartes' aim toward dualism and alienationYou gave a new slant to the Dreyfus episode the Church being another player besides those usually identified You also identified the Dreyfus affair as the beginning of the end for Emancipation in Europe and how Theodor Herzl felt that in his bones and was galvanized And who knew that as of 1994 the French army had never admitted its errorI never before had heard of the medieval nature of the Church beginning with Anselm's medieval theology his Christology of why Jesus had to die and why he had to be both man and God the offended medieval lord who must be appeased The envisioning of the Church's structure with the pope as medieval lord of the world also attended to the need in those medieval times to tame the wild wild West but done through unitary thinking and totalitarianism That made sense made some things fall into place in particular the rejection of modernity Now I think that's what makes the Church and maybe the church in general sound socialist in its attitude toward modernity when in actuality it's that medievalism Do you remember that at one of your Emory lectures a young man railed at the fact that there was a flag in the sanctuary He protested there should be no flag only the cross And that was in a Protestant not a Catholic setting You said that ever since Pope John XXIII those who have followed him have striven to undo his reforms Of course that's your word from 2001 but I think it's still the caseI had thought no one could resist Hitler during his rise to power and the war years but you pointed out that when there was the will there was a way The Nazis couldn't remove the crucifixes from the walls of Bavarian schools lest they lose the sympathies of the whole area so they had to cease and desist Also the Bishop of Münster preached against the Nazi euthanasia program application to the local population; he called it murder; the Nazis had to call it off Then later you also did describe the Catholics rising to the challenge to resist Bismarck an attitude that wouldn't be recapitulated in Hitler's time since at least early on the Church in Germany made common cause with Nazism It was to the wolves with Jews and even some Polish Catholics You explained how it was that the view of Fascism was fuzzy while Communism was always the greatest foe and resisted with alacrity meaning that at times the Church fell into bed with Fascism And too not just Communism but modernism in general was the foe of that basically medieval institution so that at one point Americanism was a heresy O the horror that people might look into their own consciences and think for themselves You said that as recently as your own ordination in the '60s you had to take an oath against Modernism All of this has left its confusing stamp on the WestYour explanation of why anti Judaism and antisemitism don't add up to just another agenda item on the Catholic to do list is crucial That's the defense so often deployed on the Left that it is just one wrong among others and one it's often said that has already received than its share of attention Not that Jewish suffering or loss of life is worse than the suffering or death of others; it is not But that is not the point which is that the Jewish uestion is the arrow aimed into the center of Christian theology and further into the Western imagination with its fantasy Jew and with antisemitism a consistently exploited organizing principle a pillar of Protestant and Catholic identity Individual Jews and whole Jewish communities were periodically sacrificed to this principle p 478 Your exploration of the Jewish uestion through history is what has led you to call for a new reformation a reformare in the Latin meaning to shape something according to its own essential being For you have said all along that antisemitism is not essential to Christianity although you also said that not facing the theology behind the denigration of Jews is what has made it inevitable It is a pattern that can't be deconstructed as long as it's still being exploitedOne of your central emphases is the cross at Auschwitz and although I can follow the theological objection the clearer immediate explanation is that the cross represents people who at the time were aligned with the perpetrators subseuently repositioning themselves as victims Or at least people who didn't speak out because they were not a Jew and saw no need to speak out for Jews until eventually the Nazis did come for them as well leading to the eventual repositioning as fellow victims at which point after all the facts on the ground had reversedYour emphasis on history and that scripture isn't history and on the uestion What is truth is key Back seven years ago I thought you were saying history truth which would not be consistent with your statements in CS Thank you for being so articulate in recording your journey Talking to you was not easy because I had so much to say Possibly I strayed from the point too often but also I elaborated; I was concerned to get what I said right since readers will think what I say does reflect what you intended I hope I didn't mislead them too badly In closing let me say James Carroll that you have been a great help and inspirationWith appreciation and affectionJan Riceuestions for further thoughtIs it still anathema for Jews and others to be integrated into society without being converted the uestion of pluralismWhat makes this book difficult to read for many people sheer length; the aspect of memoir; the painful subject matterIs Pope Francis another John XXIIIShould Jews be allowed to read this book

FREE READ è PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB ☆ James Carroll

Ilization its fault lines reaching deep into our culture to create “a deeply felt work” San Francisco Chronicle as Carroll wrangles with centuries of strife tragedy to reach a courageous affecting reckoning with difficult truths. Antisemitism originated in early Christianity when it split from Judaism It started as early as the letters of Paul and the Gospel writers Since that time Christianity has persecuted Jews throughout its long history Modern Antisemitism isn't wholly based on religious grounds their is now in modern times and ethnic or racial component to it but it originated in the religious sphere from Christians pushing the Christ Killer and often other forms of blood libel Christianity has a problem with any beliefs outside its purview but Antisemitism has a special status given the close relationship in biblical sources and on theological uestions It is something some Christians since the holocaust has grappled with or taken small steps on but it is something the tradition has to face up to with much vigor Kokoro: de wegen van het hart uestions It is something some Christians since the holocaust has grappled with or taken small steps on but it is something the tradition has to face 2 up to with much vigor

James Carroll ☆ 6 SUMMARY

Church’s battle against Judaism faces the crisis of faith it has sparked in his own life “Fascinating brave sometimes infuriating” Time this dark history is than a chronicle of religion It's the central tragedy of Western civ. Easily the worst book I have read in the last 10 years The author's historical analysis is flawed throughout the book and no legitimate historian would find it plausible I've read some of the scholarly reviews of the book and they were not kind Claims throughout the book are often outrageous eg New Testament is anti semetic with little or no scholarship to back up arguments simply having a lot of footnotes does not mean it is well researched or supported by the literature of the field All of his heroes in the book are those who agree with his theologically liberal positions while all the villians are of course theologically conservative This book is really about one man's self created theology and fanciful imagination and not about the topic it claims to addressChristianity does have a lot to answer for in regards to its relationship with the Jews over the last 2000 years including the fostering of anti semitism throughout certain periods of its history but this book contributes nothing of value to this issue Unfortunately many readers are likely to be mislead by this book as they have not read much else on this topic I encourage anyone who thinks this is good history to read further Winters Heat (Omega Boys, up arguments simply having a lot of footnotes does not mean it is well researched or supported by the literature of the field All of his heroes in the book are those who agree with his theologically liberal positions while all the villians are of course theologically conservative This book is really about one man's self created theology and fanciful imagination and not about the topic it claims to addressChristianity does have a lot to answer for in regards to its relationship with the Jews over the last 2000 years including the fostering of anti semitism throughout certain periods of its history but this book contributes nothing of value to this issue Unfortunately many readers are likely to be mislead by this book as they have not read much else on this topic I encourage anyone who thinks this is good history to read further


10 thoughts on “Constantine's Sword The Church and the Jews

  1. says:

    Dear James Carroll Although you kindly gave me your email address I purposely have not written you in the nearly seven years since meeting you at your 2011 lecture series at Emory University and the reason I have not is that I hadn't read your work any of it Now I have I've just completed Constantine's Sword What's I've read it over a period of six months with a group that has been reading and studying it together and not only that I put together our notes and study uestions each month So yes now I've indeed read Constantine's SwordBut to which you am I writing? You published Constantine's Sword which I'll now begin abbreviating as CS in 2001 as a journey of discovery self confrontation atonement and challenge but you had reached that point on your journey ten years before I met you By now you've undoubtedly gone on beyond where you were in 2011 So first of all the you to whom I'm writing is the you with whom I've been in intimate conversation over the past six months the you of CSAt the outset I want to say that I consider you a hero Adam Gopnik once wrote that at critical points the integrity of institutions depends on the integrity of individuals; the fragile integrity He was talking about the courage of such individuals of which I consider you one That is important for me to say since I do have uibbles with the book but that's what they are uibbles and do not take away from your monumental achievementIn 2011 I asked you if you received pushback from your church by which I meant the institution not your local church and you said no but maybe I phrased my uestion wrong since in the book you do mention that your witness sometimes has been uestioned by those who might consider you just another anti papal troublemaker I don't doubt that you do have support and you must have a strong internal support system too for taking on an institution is not for the faint of heart Or rather it's not about taking on an institution but about standing up to one and when you're talking beyond Catholicism to Western Christianity and in a sense Western civilization you are brave and strong Most of us can't stand up to our institutions We think we could but we don'tNext on to my uibbles The first is the way you explain how the Christian New Testament became anti Jewish I resonated with your explanation of your family's misremembering of your uncle as a hero of Irish independence when actually he died fighting for Britain in WWI how with subseuent events Irish people no longer could imagine much less remember that not so distant ancestors had been British patriots I also groaned as you explained how the British solved their Irish problem in part by putting Irish soldiers on the front lines during that war I also think I understood John Dominic Crossan's history remembered vs prophecy historicized I think too that this way of reaching your conclusion must have been acceptable to you by which I mean compatible with your faith important since the need to rehearse it arose at a number of points throughout the book And I certainly agree with the conclusion you reached stated most strongly when you referred to the New Testament's pinning the death of Jesus on the Jews as the first blood libel Yet I found your explanation labored and difficult to get my mind around Your hands may have in part been tied by having to believe all the Gospel writers were Jews and therefore their anti Jewish rhetoric takes on aspects of a family spat instead of something worse Not all scholars accept that now but even if they did some people might say fights between family are the most terrible of all And so too can be the attitude toward a group by those who have left it Also you may have been encumbered by your assumption that early Christians hated Rome as much as the Jews did when they may have forgotten that hatred sooner rather than later My other main uibble is with your treatment of Marx and his father First the father how is becoming a lawyer instead of a rabbi an act of rebellion against his own father? Before Napoleon's impact could he have even been a lawyer; wouldn't he have been tied to either trade or Talmud? You're so hard on him Also I read elsewhere in Jerry Muller's The Mind and the Market Capitalism in Western Thought published two years after CS that after the Rhineland came under Prussian auspices the elder Marx tried to get grandfathered in to the practice of law while remaining a Jew but he was turned down and only then went to the baptismal font as Heine might have said I did not get the impression he jumped at conversion out of ambition shrugging his Judaism off like an old coat And if he had a family to feed was keeping his profession simply a matter of ambition? Yes I've felt sad about his peeling away from Judaism but coping with a hostile majority culture is so hard that I'm reluctant to condemn people for their decisions particularly in this case in which I haven't heard he was selling anyone down the river to save himselfAs to Karl Marx himself his language evokes responses such as yours leading to much confusion so that various Europeans were and are trying to differentiate their capitalism from heartless or exploitive reducing to Jewish capitalism It may well be that his language was an unintended defense against the perceived scandal of his origins However I understand from Muller that Marx was playing on two words first Judentum which in German could mean either Jews Judaism or business jewing and Schacher which was used to mean either huckstering or usury and was associated primarily with Jews What I understand is that Marx was saying that all capitalism that is all modernity with its market economy is Jewdom and based on jewing and that the Jew is emancipated in the sense that the entire world is now Jewdom And so according to Marx all capitalism all of modern society is by definition bad Despite his language he is against not Jews but bourgeois society in its entirety Thus per Marx modernity is untenable and Marxism too as you say about fascist and Catholic totalitarianism harks backward toward a pre modern ideal Finally you portray Marx as somehow the culmination of the Enlightenment the secular Enlightenment whose political champion is Karl Marx p 502 in the paperback and that is a new one on me While according to Marxism capitalism may culminate in Marxism I can't see Marx representing the epitome of the EnlightenmentOkay so much for the uibbles The appreciations could go on indefinitely I'd have to rewrite the book here So let me go with the appreciations that come up first for me realizing they are not all and emphasizing the aspects that are new to meYou say that even though the Christian scriptures do blame Jews for the death of Jesus Jews only became central to the faith after the focus in the West shifted to the crucifixion and thus to the cross which happened with Constantine I think many people have heard that the early focus was on life and its symbols the egg the fish for example or the waters of baptism and not on death not on how that happened through the promulgation of Constantine's story and later his mother Helena's You say the political implications of his conversion are known but that his impact on the religion and culture are not since much of it is the way we think now and therefore taken for granted Constantine's legendary victory was in 312 his story as commonly told was generated by the bishop Eusebius originated in 325 You said he was no underdog his conversion being calculated and strategic For Constantine the rivalries in Christianity reflected those in the Empire not to mention those in his family and needed to be stamped out He saw himself from the point of view of heaven as God's regent bringing order out of chaos but the view on the ground was of a totalitarian And so Eusebius' rendition no objective biography made Constantine a new Moses and celebrated the divinely ordained union of the Church and the Empire with the newly central cross both as triumphal insignia and as means of salvation You go so far as to say Constantine surpassed even the caesars in doing what they could not do and eliminating Jewish political autonomy As Christianity's political star rose the status of Jews correspondingly sank essentially until 1948 Subseuently the bishop Ambrose used Helena's legend of finder of the True Cross to hammer the nail into the coffin With the corresponding centrality of relics every sliver of wood from the cross every nail in it could become another nail of proof against the alleged perpetrators and a triumphal sign of victory And thus the best defense being a good offense did Christianity take arms against the conflict at its heart that Judaism did not accept the Jewish messiah proclaimed by ChristianityThat reminds me that Amy Jill Levine the rock star of interfaith study and interaction has told a story of how she used to resent the name Old Testament that is until she became old and then it didn't sound so bad Likewise I had to laugh when while studying this stuff I acuired a watch whose brand name is Relic Well now that I'm a relic maybe relic doesn't sound so badOh man it's hard to do this without going into every detail and then I don't know when I'll finish Let me just say that subseuently Augustine countered the lethal conseuences of Ambrose's and Chrysostom's ideology with a double edged sword that saved Jews in their immediate situation but as you're fond of saying came with a fuse He came up with the idea that Jews needed to be kept around in a denigrated state to prove they had lost and were despised by God but at the same time they shouldn't be killed or forcibly converted since they needed to be kept around as proof of the truth of Christianity Oh the rationales people come up with Now that's a balancing act that's hard to maintain and explodes from time to time preach hate and forbearance Partly because of it there are thirteen or fourteen million Jews in the world rather than the hundred million or so that might be projected from their numbers in the Roman empire But partly because of it there are some Jews in existence as opposed to having been absorbed or eliminatedAnd the part about the double standard on suffering that when Christians suffer it's redemptive; while when Jews suffer it's reflecting God's curseAnd the urge among Christians to define Judaism so as to bolster conclusions already reached; how any Christian feels authorized to say what Judaism isIt's a relief to have such perspectives out in the openI also appreciated your point that when the church is weak vulnerable and defensive it's rough times ahead for the Jews Which puts me in mind of taking karate when I was 29 and having as a sparring partner an old man in his late 50s He couldn't kick all that high and God were my shins bruised I think it's in the context of a needy power seeking church that you're looking at the rise of ultramontanism a good cocktail party word meaning power to the Pope and the new doctrine of papal infallibility subseuent to the advances of modernism and the Church's profound reduction in worldly power after the late 18th century I should capitalize when it's about Roman Catholicism in particular that I'm talking I also appreciated your pointing out the usefulness of fanning the flames of both piety and Jew hatred for reconnecting with a disaffected populace Somewhere you said faith becomes politicsYou also pointed out the unity inherent in Spinoza's thinking and Descartes' aim toward dualism and alienationYou gave a new slant to the Dreyfus episode the Church being another player besides those usually identified You also identified the Dreyfus affair as the beginning of the end for Emancipation in Europe and how Theodor Herzl felt that in his bones and was galvanized And who knew that as of 1994 the French army had never admitted its error?I never before had heard of the medieval nature of the Church beginning with Anselm's medieval theology his Christology of why Jesus had to die and why he had to be both man and God the offended medieval lord who must be appeased The envisioning of the Church's structure with the pope as medieval lord of the world also attended to the need in those medieval times to tame the wild wild West but done through unitary thinking and totalitarianism That made sense made some things fall into place in particular the rejection of modernity Now I think that's what makes the Church and maybe the church in general sound socialist in its attitude toward modernity when in actuality it's that medievalism Do you remember that at one of your Emory lectures a young man railed at the fact that there was a flag in the sanctuary? He protested there should be no flag only the cross And that was in a Protestant not a Catholic setting You said that ever since Pope John XXIII those who have followed him have striven to undo his reforms Of course that's your word from 2001 but I think it's still the caseI had thought no one could resist Hitler during his rise to power and the war years but you pointed out that when there was the will there was a way The Nazis couldn't remove the crucifixes from the walls of Bavarian schools lest they lose the sympathies of the whole area so they had to cease and desist Also the Bishop of Münster preached against the Nazi euthanasia program application to the local population; he called it murder; the Nazis had to call it off Then later you also did describe the Catholics rising to the challenge to resist Bismarck an attitude that wouldn't be recapitulated in Hitler's time since at least early on the Church in Germany made common cause with Nazism It was to the wolves with Jews and even some Polish Catholics You explained how it was that the view of Fascism was fuzzy while Communism was always the greatest foe and resisted with alacrity meaning that at times the Church fell into bed with Fascism And too not just Communism but modernism in general was the foe of that basically medieval institution so that at one point Americanism was a heresy O the horror that people might look into their own consciences and think for themselves You said that as recently as your own ordination in the '60s you had to take an oath against Modernism All of this has left its confusing stamp on the WestYour explanation of why anti Judaism and antisemitism don't add up to just another agenda item on the Catholic to do list is crucial That's the defense so often deployed on the Left that it is just one wrong among others and one it's often said that has already received than its share of attention Not that Jewish suffering or loss of life is worse than the suffering or death of others; it is not But that is not the point which is that the Jewish uestion is the arrow aimed into the center of Christian theology and further into the Western imagination with its fantasy Jew and with antisemitism a consistently exploited organizing principle a pillar of Protestant and Catholic identity Individual Jews and whole Jewish communities were periodically sacrificed to this principle p 478 Your exploration of the Jewish uestion through history is what has led you to call for a new reformation a reformare in the Latin meaning to shape something according to its own essential being For you have said all along that antisemitism is not essential to Christianity although you also said that not facing the theology behind the denigration of Jews is what has made it inevitable It is a pattern that can't be deconstructed as long as it's still being exploitedOne of your central emphases is the cross at Auschwitz and although I can follow the theological objection the clearer immediate explanation is that the cross represents people who at the time were aligned with the perpetrators subseuently repositioning themselves as victims Or at least people who didn't speak out because they were not a Jew and saw no need to speak out for Jews until eventually the Nazis did come for them as well leading to the eventual repositioning as fellow victims at which point after all the facts on the ground had reversedYour emphasis on history and that scripture isn't history and on the uestion What is truth? is key Back seven years ago I thought you were saying history truth which would not be consistent with your statements in CS Thank you for being so articulate in recording your journey Talking to you was not easy because I had so much to say Possibly I strayed from the point too often but also I elaborated; I was concerned to get what I said right since readers will think what I say does reflect what you intended I hope I didn't mislead them too badly In closing let me say James Carroll that you have been a great help and inspirationWith appreciation and affectionJan Riceuestions for further thoughtIs it still anathema for Jews and others to be integrated into society without being converted? the uestion of pluralismWhat makes this book difficult to read for many people sheer length; the aspect of memoir; the painful subject matter?Is Pope Francis another John XXIII?Should Jews be allowed to read this book?


  2. says:

    This is a priceless investigation of anti semitism in Christianity and it is an invaluable book However in asmuch as the author does not get past Christianity enough to understand that it had nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus and the fact that it was Paul who was so heavily invested in creating a separate and different movement which of necessity had victimization built in as a good Cahtolic he remains stuck with the guilt over this aspect and the reader through him Having said that his honesty and courage in looking at this messy aspect of Christian history is overwhelmingA long time ago a book by the Dutch theologian Prof G J Heering The Fall of Christianity English translations from ca 1943 identified the fall of the teachings of the Prince of Peace as they finally became the religion of the soldiers of Caesar Constantine the Great whose In Hoc Signo Vinces which surely was a nadir of Christianity and hardly a triumphOnce it is understood that Christian aggression begins with Paul's proselytizing let's not practice what he says but instead let's convince the neighbors that they should practice what he says then it is also clear that the seeds of hatred were in the DNA of the movement since separation and being uniue and different is the underlying premise wich completely flies in the face of everything Jesus stood for which was inclusion never exclusion While Heering had a clear eye for the decay of Jesus's message so than Carroll he did not realize that the rot was built in from the moment Paul's proselytizing turned the message completely outward


  3. says:

    Jesus was a simple man with a simple philosophy love one another don't be a judge don't be self righteous parading virtue on your sleeve Violence solves nothing Be the first to help others and the last to put yourself forward ahead of themI've taken up a daily habit that will keep me busy for some time I am visiting all the French and English cathedrals online They are nothing if not symbols of immense power of a religious empire based on the Roman the buildings being derivative of the Roman basilica where emperors sat at the front above the people The structures were meant to inspire awe and submission to supernatural power as represented by clerical powerWhat possible connection could there be between the subject of my first paragraph and that of my second? Jesus' wanted people to be humble with respect to each other not to a hierarchy of clergy dressed in elaborate attire and carrying symbols of power with a supreme leader at the top claiming to be the representative of God on earth and declared infallible regarding doctrine in 1870 There is nothing in Jesus' philosophy that calls for an institution of such wealth and power as the Roman Catholic Church became in his name Constantine's Sword is the work of an ordained Catholic following the course of the church through history with the common thread of anti semitism that has been a feature or less on display for two millennia culminating in a failure to censure let alone act against Hitler the polar opposite to JesusJames Carroll takes the reader on his youthful travels with his devout mother showing the naive acceptance of the story of Jesus and the place assigned to the Jews as responsible for his death on the cross Then we see Carroll become a priest increasingly uestioning the position of the church with regard to the Jews as well as his own responsibility in it This is a book about the morality of church and of the author as a member of itCarroll gives a detailed account of the leading thinkers who set the course of the church and the many popes who could deviate toward acceptance of the Jews but often toward passivity or even encouragement when laymen became violent against Jews It almost becomes farce with the setting up of a Jewish ghetto in Rome on the order of and within sight of the pope in the Vatican The next pope has the ghetto torn down then the next pope has it restored Peter and Paul Constantine Augustine Ambrose Abelard Auinas and many popes from Gregory the Great down to John Paul II are all here with their views and actions analyzed making this a masterpiece of Catholic philosophical investigation and behind it all stands the icon of the church Christ suffering on the cross Carroll highlights that the church makes this the center of attention rather than Jesus' message of love and forgivenessThe cross is the thread that binds the book starting with a vision of it in the sky before the Roman emperor Constantine marching to take Rome against his rival Maxentius in 312 CE He saw below the cross the words with this conuer had his troops fashion a cross icon with a vertical spear and a horizontal sword and the following day was victorious Thus did Christianity win his endorsementThe cross is at the end of Carroll's historical account with the display of it at Auschwitz still there in 2020 against the wishes of most Jews Carroll's extreme discomfort with this placement drives his determination to understand why he feels it and how the cross has established itself as representative of a demeaning insulting accusing view of JudaismConstantine wished to bring the empire together under the cross and that purpose has never been lost moving through all the popes into modern times It is well known that to encourage unity a common enemy is helpful and a helpless one was readily available throughout EuropeIn contrast to Jesus' call for the love of others church thinkers starting with Augustine have placed blame on Jews for the death of Jesus While Augustine did not call for direct oppression of the Jews he did say that as punishment they were bound to never find peace but must be permitted to exist because their scripture authenticates in the Christian view the coming of Christ through prophesies in what the church calls the Old Testament the first five books of which are the Torah of JudaismBut permanent guilt in a matter so close to the heart of the vast majority of Europeans could not help but lead to terrible treatment in tough times A plague? It was the Jews Political unrest? The Jews at work Economic decline? The Jews are bleeding us dry Beatings riots and dispossession could easily follow and often than not the church looked onTo most in the church the Jew was a scapegoat always at hand but in such small numbers that oppression was easily practiced and hard to resist contradicting Jesus' practice of comforting the outcast and befriending the strangerIt is well known that Jesus told his disciple Peter that before the cock would crow Peter would deny three separate times that he knew Jesus Peter vigorously denied it would happen and then went on to fulfill the prophecy realizing with anguish how easily he had betrayed what he claimed was most important to him as he heard the cock crow It is with a similar anguish that James Carroll documents the troubling history of his church ending the book by calling for a Vatican III council to put a determined end to itCarroll has the gift of writing never hesitates to relate the most regrettable episodes of which there are so many The reader feels the author's dedication to duty throughoutJesus stopped a stoning saying let he who is without sin cast the first stone In other words look to yourself before you judge others As a dedicated Catholic the author has done this with an institution that he feels deeply a part of himself It is a job well done


  4. says:

    This might be the most powerful book I've ever read It details the history of Christianity with regard to antisemitism It begins at the time of Jesus' death and goes through Vatican II I knew the Church far from perfect but I had no idea that it not only tolerated antisemitism but FOSTERED it Carroll is an ex priest The first part of the book too long in my husband's estimation is spent on explaining Carroll's personal experience with the Church which forms the framework for his writing of this book For me the fact that a devout Catholic wrote this book gave it validity than if it had been a non Catholic or non Christian I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in exploring the historical truth about Christianity


  5. says:

    Very well written informative and freuently interesting for those ualities and other reasons but this book was addressed to a dilemma specific to Carroll and others who identify with him which limited its appeal to me Conseuently the parts that were likely the most significant for the author and the most rewarding for other readers were those that I wanted to get through most uickly


  6. says:

    Easily the worst book I have read in the last 10 years The author's historical analysis is flawed throughout the book and no legitimate historian would find it plausible I've read some of the scholarly reviews of the book and they were not kind Claims throughout the book are often outrageous eg New Testament is anti semetic with little or no scholarship to back up arguments simply having a lot of footnotes does not mean it is well researched or supported by the literature of the field All of his heroes in the book are those who agree with his theologically liberal positions while all the villians are of course theologically conservative This book is really about one man's self created theology and fanciful imagination and not about the topic it claims to addressChristianity does have a lot to answer for in regards to its relationship with the Jews over the last 2000 years including the fostering of anti semitism throughout certain periods of its history but this book contributes nothing of value to this issue Unfortunately many readers are likely to be mislead by this book as they have not read much else on this topic I encourage anyone who thinks this is good history to read further


  7. says:

    This is a SERIOUS read It's long beautifully written and heartfelt thoroughly researched and annotated and 2 millenia in the making Thought provoking yes but soul search provoking also This should be mandatory reading for every practicing Christian particularly Roman Catholics James Carrol amazes I need to blog about this


  8. says:

    Antisemitism originated in early Christianity when it split from Judaism It started as early as the letters of Paul and the Gospel writers Since that time Christianity has persecuted Jews throughout its long history Modern Antisemitism isn't wholly based on religious grounds their is now in modern times and ethnic or racial component to it but it originated in the religious sphere from Christians pushing the Christ Killer and often other forms of blood libel Christianity has a problem with any beliefs outside its purview but Antisemitism has a special status given the close relationship in biblical sources and on theological uestions It is something some Christians since the holocaust has grappled with or taken small steps on but it is something the tradition has to face up to with much vigor


  9. says:

    I think what may shed a cleansing light upon the dark recesses of ignorance pertaining to any dispute of this excellent book would be for everyone here to read up on Mithraism Mithra In a nut shell it preceded Christ by 600 years at least and surprise has almost identical teachings many of the same stories as the bible Basically Constantine who ordered the first mass printing of the bible was a follower of Mithra first and as a method of consolidating power helped replace the Pagan God Mithra but still keeping many of the same stories with the fabled figure head of the back then minor cult called Christianity Constantine then appointed himself Pope of this now better organized funded religion as well as having the power title of Emperor Time to grow up everyone Jews Muslm's too have forged their religions over this original super religions stories views Read learn the real truth As for the similarities between Mithra Mithraism Jesus and ChristianityMithra was born on December 25th sometimes in a stable or cave but traditionally from a rock The Roman Emperor Aurelian declared December 25 to be the official birthday of Mithra circa 270 CE even attended by shepards who brought giftsMithra was a traveling teacherMithra had 12 disciplesHe performed MiraclesHe was buried in a tombIn three days he was resurrectedHe was called the Good ShepardHe was considered the Way the Truth and the Light the Redeemer the Savior the MessiahHis sacred day was SundayHis resurrection was celebrated on EasterHe had a Last Supper when he returned to his father Also called the Eucharist or the Lord's SupperHe was believed not to have died but to have ascended to heaven where it was believed he would return at the end of time where he would judge the living and the deadHe granted immortal life of his followers through baptismFollowers of Mithra were lead by a 'papa' the Greek word for 'father' and what 'pope' is derived fromwho ruled on Vatican Hill in RomeRemember This is all BEFORE Christ Records show at the very least 600 years before Followers of Mithra celebrated sacramenta a consecrated bread and wine using chanting incensebells candles and holy water just as is found in the Catholic MassHe who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood so that he will be made on with me and I with him the same shall not know salvation NO this isn't John 653 54 Its actually an inscription to Mithras Yup folks your entire life devoted to Christianity has been a fraud The bible is just 'the book of plagiarism' design to control tax the populace of the old world and things haven't changed much since


  10. says:

    James Carroll has a very personal relationship with the Catholic Church having been taken to many holy sites as a child as well as having an audience with the Pope Most strikingly he spent a number of years as a brother He comes to this subject not as someone who wants to denigrate the Church but as a man who wants to understand the tortured relationship between the Church and the Jews He begins his journey at Auschwitz which in addition to the memorials to the lost Jews has a large Cross that was placed there not so long ago It is this symbol the Cross or appropriately to the Catholics the Crucifix upon which he creates his history He draws his story back and forth from the actual Crucifixion through the growth of the Church to the Holocaust to his own personal experience His style makes a long book very easy to read and extremely informative Any history of the Catholic Church is a history of Western civilization and if you are not religious but interested in history you should read this It is not a condemnation of the Church as such but a look at the failure of human beings and lost opportunities I wish James Carroll would write an Afterword he finished the boo in 1999 I think he would have despaired at Pope Benedict but rejoiced at Pope Francis Me too


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