Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mental Running............................

I’ve read Constantine’s Sword twice, and I have an interesting time understanding how the author can understand Judaism from the eyes of a Jew. I used to have a lot of pent up anger towards Christianity, and reading that book broke up a lot of that anger because a Christian was understanding that anger from the point of view of a Jew and understanding that that anger was not “anti-Christian.”

In fact, I’ve never heard a Christian refer to Jews as anti-Christian, and I’m not exactly sure why. Indeed, some of the views that Jews have towards Christianity are really anti-Christian. I want to give the benefit of the doubt to Christians, I want to believe that they haven’t used it because they understand that Christianity has done some bad things to Jews and therefore they understand that their resentment towards Christianity is not “anti-Christian” but is based on what was done to them. I think that they don’t use it because they haven’t rationalized it as being anti-Christian. They see the confluence between the Tanakh and the Christian Bible as being so smooth and natural that there is no such thing as being anti-Christian; by rejecting Jesus the Jews are being anti-Jewish. Therefore, the term “anti-Christian” has no meaning in the Christian mind, a Christian has to bend his way of thought to make sense of that word because it explains to him just how separate Jews see the Tanakh and the Christian Bible; to use the word “anti-Christian” to refer to a Jew’s sentiment is to understand Christianity as an entirely separate tradition from Judaism, meaning that it is extraneous to it and has nothing to do with it. Christians do sense that Judaism is anti-Christian, but it seems that they have never used that word. Instead, they conceptualize this tension, which to them is senseless, that Jews have resentment towards Christianity in the form of shock that Jews do not accept Jesus. To a Christian, to love G-d is to love Jesus, so the logical question for a Christian to ask a Jew is “why don’t you accept Jesus?” They can’t understand how Jews say that they love G-d but don’t accept Jesus. There is a confusion in their mind, two existing and opposite concepts at once; they know that the Jews love G-d, and since it is so natural for a Christian to love both G-d and Jesus as an measure of their love for G-d, they simply can’t understand how a person can love G-d without loving Jesus. Unfortunately, they might be tempted to conclude that Jews don’t really love G-d. The fact that the Tanakh and the Christian Bible can be logically seen as two different Bibles would allow for the concept that one can love G-d in His Entirety and not love Jesus, or even know him.

From a perspective of Christianity, it is logical to see Jesus everywhere in the Tanakh, because that religion was made real on the basis of Jesus being foretold everywhere in the Tanakh. It makes sense to believe that the Tanakh talks about Jesus only if your religion was founded on Jesus being the fulfillment of the Tanakh. If you’re a Jew, your religion was founded on something else and therefore there is no place for Jesus within Judaism because it is already complete without him. A Christian simply can’t fathom the notion that anything be complete without Jesus, but this is explicitly because his religion was founded by Jesus. I guess it would be the same to say that Judaism just does not make sense without Abraham. This also means that, in an abstract manner of speaking, that Christianity is a “Judaic religion,” because Jesus was a Jew. To a Christian, Jesus’ being Jewish lends it 100% believability in the eyes of a Jew, meaning that a Christian believes that it should be no problem for a Jew to accept Christianity on the merit that Jesus was a Jew. The answer to that is that there have been many Jews in history who have done wrong and their being Jewish was not a litmus test for their validity.

Jews, but I am really just talking about myself, are not anti-Christian in the sense that they hate G-d, because to Jews, Christianity is not representative of G-d. There are people who are anti-Christian along the lines that they don’t like the concept of G-d; Jews are not anti-Christian for this reason, if they even are anti-Christian, but rather for the reason of what Christianity has done to the Jews, and is doing. I for one think that Christianity should be allowed to flourish but in the Christian social context and in the lives of Christians; it should not reach over into the lives of Jews. Let Christians love Jesus, let them pray to him, let them believe that he fulfilled the Torah; this has nothing to do with me.

In a Boston University interview, James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword, said, "I went to Auschwitz in November 1996 not knowing, or having forgotten, about the cross. When I saw it, I was shocked. I knew that there had been a furious dispute about the presence of a convent, and I went to look at the building that had housed the convent. John Paul II had intervened with Polish Catholics and the order of Carmelite nuns, and helped arrange for the convent's move to a site a bit farther from the camp. The sight of the cross was a jolt for me. I had a reaction that I knew I would have to confront. It was a visceral, negative reaction, and I was confused by my reaction. It was the literal beginning of this book."

This is just an interesting picture, a Catholic Bishop meeting Hitler, an indication of the political alliances forming between Hitler and the Bishops and that they were too close for comfort.
Here's an equally shocking snapshot of Bishops during World War II giving the Nazi salute in the vicinity of Hitler.

This picture, a meeting between Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, and Hitler shows that he was also meddling in the Middle East. He was engaging the Christians in Europe and the Muslims in the Middle East, can we imagine where this was going?

And for the visual learners, a picture of Nazisand Hezba-llah, the Lebanese terrorist group, respectively heiling Hitler and heiling Hassan (Nasra-llah).

My point with this blog is not to induce an unnecessary guilt trip on the faithful (Christians) or to lead to their questioning or breaking their faith (G-d forbid), even if I don't believe in it, but to get them to understand that they cannot make, or try to make, logical distinctions between "true Christians" and "not real Christians" based on (in)conveniences to their faith. I have had too many Christian friends tell me, when I brought up this topic, that anyone who does something bad in the name of Jesus is not a real Christian - how to explain the large cross hanging from the Bishop's neck as he stood face-to-face with Hitler is a good a guess as anybody's. This is a cognizant dissonance, an inability to grapple with real phenomena and events because they do not conform with currently held notions of something, in this case (an individual's understanding of) Christianity. If those Bishops weren't real Christians, Christianity does not exist. We cannot ignore history to save faith and I definitely am not ready to erase one of the worst moments in Jewish history just so that Christians can go to Church Sunday morning with a clear conscience and a happy heart. What happened to the Jews cannot be erased, not from the fiber of existence nor from the Jewish law-violating tattoos nor from the minds of the survivors.

Two Christians meet: Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian Christian and legislator/spokesperson for the Palestinian people and cause meeting with a Cardinal

Further, what would this do to the integrity of Christianity if these things could be forgotten? In what shallow, false, and two dimensional realm would Christianity exist if it remained in a state forgetful of, and therefore unaware of, atrocities carried out under its auspices, detached from what "true Christianity" is? In what "happy-go-lucky" sugary philosophy of love-state would Christianity exist if it insisted that to be a Christian is to love but was unable to realize that Christians have hated? Christianity did not come into existence on your birthdate; it existed before you for two thousand years, and the Christianity of 13th Century Europe is not the Christianity of 21st Century America. Christianity cannot be just a mental structure in the minds or hearts of Christian believers; if Christianity does not exist in this world, it does not exist. You are not a real Christian if you assume that Christianity only figures into your lifetime and leaves you in a state detached from past events done in the name of your religion. Nor am I a real Jew if I live with the assumption that my existence in the 21st Century in America has nothing to do with every single day that has passed in the history of the world. The survivors of the Holocaust coined the phrase "Never Again." It shouldn't be obsessive fear that motivates one to fight against "again," and therefore to remember, rather, the quality of one's identity is reduced to rubble if memory is erased. Imagine a person with amnesia who tries desperately to remember his past; he is valued by it.

Two interesting videos

In the above video, from 1:15 to about 1:25, it looks like a movement made by Muslims in prayer.