The Light of Hope in Darkness

In the Mumbai Massacre terrorists particularly targeted Jews, focusing special attention of the Chabad house.  The Holocaust denial in Iran and the proliferation of literary outrages like The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion or monstrous tracts like Mein Kampf, are sad proof that hatred of Jews is not limited to terrorists operating in India.  The chic Leftists of Europe unite with terrorists in their reflexive hatred of Israel and unspoken anti-Semitism.

Grimly, not just anti-Semitism found violent expression in the generally placid India.  This year alone, more than 100 Christians have been murdered in anti-Christian riots on the subcontinent. The ancient Christian community in Iraq is facing slow extermination.  The defamation of Christian faith in elite salons has never been more gleeful than now.

As one pundit put it: "Never before in the history of the world have Jews been so universally persecuted; and never before has such persecution fallen, as it does today, upon Jews and Christians alike.  It is a sign of the profound disturbances of our civilization" Indeed it is. But Jacques Maritain did not write those words today.  He wrote them in 1943 in a book entitled Twilight of Civilization.  Maritain was philosemitic and understood the importance of the Jewish people to a moral universe.  

The ravenous evil stalking our world then was easier to see than now, but the evil is very much present in our lives, whether it makes the headlines or not.  Hatred of Jews and of Christians, persecution of both of these lights of hope in our world, is at the essence of evil.  Maritain was a great Catholic thinker and also a profound opponent of anti-Semitism, one of the first and most forceful thinkers to directly confront that old vice.

A Jewish author, Charles Shulman, in his 1939 book, Europe's Conscience in Decline: "There was a time not long ago when the rulers of the Third Reich were sensitive to public opinion in their treatment of Jews, Christians and others who represented something better than force and murder.  That time has passed."   Shulman noted that the decline of conscience in Germany was directly tied to the decline of Christianity in Germany.  He quotes Heine, one of Germany's greatest poets and also Jewish, who wrote in 1834 that Christianity was dying in Germany and that when it died, the day would come in which The Terror would seem "like a pretty idyll."  

We enter a season of lights.  Some of the lights are on the Menorah.  Some of the lights are in the ancient night skies over Bethlehem.  These lights are the lights of our Creator.  Since the beginning of human history, evil has tried to extinguish these lights.  This evil has come in many names -- Haman, Nero, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao -- but always it has found the light of God intolerable.

Popular fables notwithstanding, Communists absolutely hated the Jewish people.  Judd Teller, in his book, The Kremlin, the Jews, and the Middle East, points out that the Soviets cynically pretended to care about the Jewish people, but that this reflected, instead, particularly hostility toward Jews, with the old vile caricatures, violent disruption of religious services, exclusion from nearly all high offices in government and party, and even the accusation that Jews in Germany were secretly allied with the Nazis.

Popular fables notwithstanding, Nazis absolutely hated Christians.  Before the Second World War began, Michael Power, in his book, The Nazi Persecution of Christianity, notes exactly what dozens of other writers had seen in the prior decade:  Christianity was considered to be the worst religion for Nazis.  Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any pagan faith were fine.  Christianity was not.  Hitler hated, in Maritain's words "...the God of Calvary and the God of Sinai."  He could do nothing without destroying true Christianity and true Judaism.  No evil can roam our world without destroying the lights of its nemesis, God.

Theology aside, history speaks.  Those great evils which we still, thankfully, see as great evils have this in common:  always, the evil hates and persecutes Jews and Christians; always, the evil despises Israel and America, nations rightly seen as the principal repositories of Christian and Jewish faith; always, the evil tried to cast the seeds of suspicion and unease in the ranks of those who champion Judeo-Christian values.

Let us, please, stop playing the game of our enemies.  During the ghastliness of Stalinism, in the horrors of the Holocaust, those good people who clung to the Judeo-Christian values and beliefs instinctively understood that the enemy of Jews was also the enemy of Christians and that the enemy of Christians was also the enemy of Jews.  Nothing has changed.  Nothing ever will change.  Jews and Christians will always be hated by those who love evil.  Look around you today.  The Gospel and the Torah are equally loathed by those whose hearts are loathsome.  In this season of lights, I pray that Christians and Jews love each other more purely and see real evil more clearly.  This is a Hannukah wish and a Christmas prayer.