Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I wavered about posting on this silly article by a self-hating Irish guy, but Amy Welborn thinks it is important to discuss ...

A new anti-Semitism
By James Carroll


"THE ORIGINAL sin of the Christian church, and the culture that derives from it, is contempt for Jews, a disorder that continues to infect religious belief and popular attitudes."

I attended Catholic schools my whole life and never experienced this disorder or this type of popular attitude. I have lived on Long Island my whole life, in a heavily Catholic/Jewish town and have never experienced this either.

"Discussions of the contemporary resurgence of anti-Semitism focus on such phenomena as the anti-Jewish bigotry of many Muslim preachers or the ready leap from criticism of Israeli policies toward Palestinians to an undermining of the entire project of the Jewish state."

That sentence is true: none of the discussions of the contemporary resurgence of anti-Semitism revolve around Catholics or Catholicism. Catholics are not, to my knowledge, strapping bombs to their chest to kill Jews. Nor are they blaming the Jews for September 11th as a leader of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury did.

"But this year, a startling manifestation of foundational hatred of the Jewish people has occurred in the very heart of well-intentioned Christian faith"

I am beginning to think this guy lives on a different planet than I do, or that he wrote this while drunk. Based on my experiences with the Boston Irish, I am guessing the latter.

"When the blockbuster DVD of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was released a few weeks ago, the astounding appeal of an already hugely successful film was made clearer than ever. For many, this portrait of the suffering and death of Jesus is a powerful religious experience, despite its hyper-violence and despite a blatant portrayal of "the Jews" as Satan's allies in the murder of one revered as the Son of God"

It is hard to believe the huge success of the movie despite all that isn't it? Unless of course people did not see the portrayal this writer did. I would guess most people saw a state execution of a man and not "the Jews" working with Satan to murder someone. Then again, maybe most viewers were drunk when they watched the film?

"The film exacerbated problems already adhering in anti-Jewish Gospel texts by drawing on eccentric anti-Jewish "visions" attributed to a 19th century German mystic named Sister Anna Katharina Emmerich (1774-1824)."

So some parts of the Gospels are anti-Jewish? And I didn't know the anti-Jewish visions were attributed to Emmerich? I thought they were attributed to Brentano?? Maybe I was drunk when I read that somewhere?

"When the film was released last spring, Gibson's Braveheart sensibility, imposed on the memory of Jesus, was what disturbed, but now the question moves to the huge population of those who affirm that sensibility as their own. This is the background for the extremely worrying event last week, when, at Vatican ceremonies, Sister Emmerich was "beatified," brought to the threshold of sainthood."

Actually when the movie was released last spring most critics were disturbed by supposed anti-semitism but threw in concern about the violence for good measure.

"The nun is associated with "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ," a text out of the problematic Passion Play tradition, and the acknowledged source of some of Gibson's most lurid denigrations of Jews. ("The high priests were transformed into priests of Satan, for no one could look upon their countenances without beholding there, portrayed in vivid colors, the evil passions with which their souls were filled -- deceit, infernal cunning, and a raging anxiety to carry out that most tremendous of crimes, the death of their Lord and Savior.")"
"According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the "cause" of the canonization of this woman was initiated according to standard church procedures by the bishop of Munster in 1892. Why is the Roman Catholic Church promoting her to the status of "blessed" only now? Is the timing mere coincidence?

From what I understand, the cause was stopped because of questions about the writings and whether they were all her doing. I also understand there have been other causes that were stopped and then restarted recently. This Pope tends to push canonizations quite aggressively.

"More explicitly, why is the Vatican, in honoring this nun, affirming some of the most un-Christian aspects of the Gibson film?"

But that is not what they are doing. Or is this one of those questions that is really a statement? I don't remember any un-Christian aspects of the film anyway.

"Indeed, how can this beatification not be taken as a kind of post-facto imprimatur for "The Passion of the Christ?"

Well, it was explicitly said that her writings had nothing to do with her beatification, so I guess that is how. But if the Church is giving its unofficial okeedokey to the film, then good!

"And given Gibson's open disregard for Vatican II, with its firm repudiation of the "Christ-killer" charge, how can the church embrace this rejection of one of its own most important contemporary teachings?"

Gibson is a traditionalist so he must see Jews as "Christ-killers"???????????????????? He must find it very difficult to work in Hollywood!

"A reading of history suggests an unpleasant answer to these questions. In the 19th century, when the age of revolutions had alienated large numbers of Catholics from the church, many priests and bishops openly embraced the popular anti-Semitism of the day as a way of reconnecting with believers the church had lost. The most notorious instance of this was the Dreyfus affair, when the French church and many French people found common cause against a common enemy."

I don't see any connection ......?

"Reports had it last spring that the pope had approved the Gibson film, but those reports were disputed, and mainly the Vatican kept its distance, a detachment most bishops emulated."

The Pope "approved the Gibson film"? Is this guy really a reporter?

"In thus remaining marginal, alas, the Catholic church missed a major teaching moment, since "The Passion of the Christ" amounts to the most successful project of religious instruction in history. "

Correct! This is the second correct thing this guy has written!

"Instruction in a dark mistake."


"But the beatification of Sister Emmerich suggests that Catholic leaders are taking an opposite tack now, replacing detachment with embrace."

No it doesn't, but if it did so what?

"Mel Gibson has made the visions associated with Emmerich a world phenomenon, and millions have experienced them as the height of piety"

Thanks be to God! I never thought I would ever see the day when Catholic things would be so widely experienced by people!

"Ignoring the potentially lethal consequences of such visions, are the leaders of an ever more defensive church attaching themselves to this perverse pop-culture success for their own parochial reasons? Does the beleaguered church glimpse its future in Mel Gibson?"

"Potentially lethal consequences" - This is what has been said for years now and the body count due to the film is still ZERO. (But as one commenter said, it is doubling every day). And the answers to those two questions are NO and NO. At most, this action by the Pope can be seen as yet another small olive branch thrown to traditionalists.

"This whole sad story suggests that we Christians -- we Catholics -- have barely begun to uproot anti-Semitism from our tradition. "

This is not a sad story and that sentence is a lie. And what do you mean "we" cowboy?

"And make no mistake, anti-Semitism begins here. Who could have imagined that, returning to square one of the reform, we would have to be insisting again that the "Christ-killer" charge against the Jewish people is a lie?"

We don't have to be doing that, only old, tired, drunk, self-hating morons like James Carroll are doing this.

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