Archive for the ‘Crusades’ Tag

The Sin of Anti-Semitism   1 comment

Above: A Star of David in a Stained-Glass Window

Image Source = Roy Lindman



Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Romans 9:1-5 (Revised English Bible):

I am speaking the truth as a Christian; my conscience, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, assures me that I do not lie when I tell you that there is great grief and unceasing sorrow in my heart.  I would even pray to be an outcast myself, cut off from Christ, if it would help my brothers, my kinsfolk by natural descent.  They are descendants of Israel, chosen to be God’s sons; theirs is the lgory of the law, the temple worship, and the promises.  The patriarchs are theirs, and from by natural descent came, the Messiah.  May God supreme above all, be blessed for ever!  Amen.

Psalm 147:13-21 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

13  Worship the LORD, O Jerusalem;

praise your God, O Zion;

14  For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;

he has blessed your children within you.

15  He has established peace on your borders;

he satisfies you with the finest wheat.

16  He sends out his command to the earth,

and his word runs very swiftly.

17  He gives snow like wool;

he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.

18  He scatters his hail like bread crumbs;

who can stand against his cold?

19  He sends forth his word and melts them;

he blows with his wind, and the waters flow.

20  He declares his word to Jacob,

his statutes and his judgments to Israel.

21  He has not done so to any other nation;

to them he has not revealed his judgments.


Luke 14:1-6 (Revised English Bible):

One sabbath he [Jesus] went to have a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they were watching him closely.  There, in front of him, was a man suffering from dropsy, and Jesus asked the lawyers and the Pharisees:

Is it permittted to heal people on the sabbath or not?

They said nothing.  So he took the man, cured him, and sent him away.  Then he turned to them and said,

If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well, will he hesitate to pull him out on the sabbath day?

To this they could find no reply.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Luke 13 (Similar to Luke 14):

Luke 6 (Similar to Luke 14):

Mark 3 (Similar to Luke 14):

Romans 9:


Anti-Semitism has overlapped with Christianity since the earliest decades of the latter.  Witness the anti-Jewish virulence in the Gospel of John, for example.  There is also palpable resentment against the Jews evident in the text of the Gospel of Matthew.  So, due to resentments, misunderstandings (some of them born of this day’s reading from Luke 14), and learned hatred, professing Christians have despised, marginalized, murdered, and justified the murders of Jews for nearly two thousand years.  For example, when the “knights” of the First Crusade headed off to kill Muslims (among others) in the Holy Land, they stopped to muder European Jews first.  God, they thought, approved of all this.

If people had thought independently, however, they might have considered a few facts:

  • Jesus was Jewish.
  • The Apostles were Jewish.
  • Paul of Tarsus was Jewish.
  • Paul of Tarsus was not Anti-Semitic.

Anti-Semitism is a sin in any form, at any place, at any time.  The Jews are, as the Blessed Pope John Paul II said, our elder brothers and sisters in faith.  I, as a Gentile, am a limb grafted onto their tree.  Judaism and Christianity are distinct religions; this is a simple fact.  Yet there need be no animosity between them.

Yet let us be clear about what is and what is not Anti-Semitic.  Rendering an honest and well-thought-out critique of policies of the State of Israel is not Anti-Semitic, but saying that one has a duty to destroy that nation-state is.  Too often we humans flit about from one extreme to another.  Christian guilt over thousands of years of Anti-Semitism ought not lead to giving a certain nation-state carte blanche, free of criticism.  In plain language, the Palestinians have rights, too.  They have these rights because they are also human beings created in the image of God.

My dream is one of a world in which all of us, regardless of our ethnic or religious backgrounds, will recognize each other’s basic human rights and respect each other.  When we disagree, we will do so respectfully.  Jesus, a practicing Jew, would approve.






Adapted from this post:


Posted May 9, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 147, Romans 9

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Allegedly Sacred Violence, Part Two   1 comment

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston


This post flows directly from


1 Kings 19:9-16 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

[At Horeb Elijah, on the run from Queen Jezebel] went into a cave, and there he spent the night.

Then the word of the LORD came to him.  He said to him,

Why are you here, Elijah?

He replied,

I am moved by zeal for the LORD, the God of Hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and put Your prophets to the sword.  I alone am left, and they are out to take my life.

[The LORD called,]

Come out and stand on the mountain before the LORD.

And lo, the LORD passed by.  There was a great and mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks by the power of the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind–an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake–fire; but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire–a soft murmuring sound.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his mantle about his face and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.  Then a voice addressed him:

Why are you here Elijah?

He answered,

I am moved by zeal for the LORD, the God of Hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and put your prophets to the sword.  I alone am left, and they are out to take my life.

The LORD said to him,

Go back by the way you came, [and] on to the wilderness of Damascus.  When you get there, anoint Hazael as king of Aram.  Also anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah to succeed you as prophet.


Elijah, on the run for his life from Queen Jezebel, was discouraged.  So God encouraged him and showed him that he was not alone.  Then God gave Elijah other tasks to complete–to choose Elisha (who was to become a prophet also) as a disciple and to anoint new monarchs for Aram and Israel.  If one keeps reading one learns that, between the two new kings, many adherents of Baal will die, with divine approval, according to the author of this part of 1 Kings.

I understand why many people, especially those outside the Judeo-Christian fold, find the Bible disturbing.  Parts of the book are quite violent.  Some of its authors portray Yahweh as bloodthirsty, pronouncing death for those who choose not to worship him.  There are also death sentences for getting caught in adultery, losing a battle, showing great disrespect for a parent, and committing many other offenses.  Such passages help explain why I reject both biblical inerrancy and infallibility, for this divine bloodlust is incompatible with the love I see in Jesus.

I try to understand such bloody passages in context.  Elijah, under the threat of violence from devotees of pagan deities, was a radical monotheist who understood himself to be a soldier in a cosmic war.  People kill in war.  This is, however, the mindset which contributed to the Crusades and the Inquisition, and which provides much fuel to Islamic terrorism.  ”Those are not merely misguided people; they are moral threats.  I can kill a moral threat and still be moral.”  That is the misguided logic of holy war.  There is no such thing as sacred violence or holy war.  If God is love, these cannot exist.

I own the two-disc set of the Terry Jones documentary miniseries Crusades.  In it Karen Armstrong explains simply the moral inconsistency of holy war, in this case, for Christians:  Jesus commanded his followers to love their enemies, not exterminate them.  Jesus was wise.






Adapted from this post: