I have long been fascinated with what some people call the world's oldest hatred, antisemitism. or bigotry against Jews.
It may well predate the origins of Christianity, but clearly Christianity was the source of what I call anti-Judaism, which is theological in nature. It argues that Jews missed the boat by rejecting Jesus as Messiah and, thus, are doomed to suffer forever because of that.
By contrast, modern antisemitism arose about the same time as the industrial revolution and is much more racial or ethnic in nature. It dreams up crazy ideas about Jewish conspiracies to control the world and accuses Jews of being greedy vermin.
There certainly is a connection between anti-Judaism and antisemitism, and you can read about that in my essay about anti-Judaism in Christian history.
But what I find so astonishing about modern antisemitism is that it is not limited to uneducated people who simply don't know any better.
In fact, a new academic study of hate letters mailed to the Central Council of Jews in Germany shows that "More than 60% of the hate mail came from well-educated Germans, including university professors."
Hatred and bigotry is not necessarily kneecapped by education. If it were, would we have had country clubs all over the U.S., including in Kansas City, forbidding Jews to join as members? Would many of Germany's intelligentsia in World War II have bought into the anti-Jewish garbage that Adolf Hitler and his followers were selling?
Education is part of the answer to deconstructing people's prejudices, of course, but clearly it cannot be counted on to complete the job. What's also needed? Moral models as instructors, whose job, among much else, is to stop and challenge prejudice when they hear or see it.
When antisemitism or other prejudices go unchallenged, people begin to imagine they are respectable and acceptable positions. Apparently that's happening again in Germany and maybe elsewhere, too.
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FIXING THE VATICAN BANK
The Vatican's efforts to clean up its bank and its related financial dealings are paying off with good reforms, it's reported. Good. Except for the sex abuse scandal in the church, it's hard to think of anything that makes the church look bad more than shady financial dealings.
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THE BOOK CORNER
Blessed by Less: Cleaning Your Life of Clutter by Living Lightly, by Susan V. Vogt. People who have longed to simplify their cluttered, too-busy lives will find nothing astonishingly new in this small book, but they will find a helpful roadmap to achieve their goals. And perhaps that's what they've been missing. The author has worked in family ministry in the Catholic Church for decades and brings a rich Catholic sensibility to her writing. Through her own experiences of ridding her life of what she doesn't need, she writes, "I've been able to see more clearly how much is enough and how much is more than enough." She also pays attention to how to achieve more simplicity for those in the first half and then the second half of life, recognizing that those groups will have different needs and approaches. But remember: For you personally one of these books is enough. Give away any others you buy.
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