My Great Good Friends,
What a confusing week: Sunday had a presidential candidate celebrating the Communist International’s May Day, yesterday someone wished me a ‘May the 4th be with you’, and today I’m torn between Cinco de Mayo and Holocaust Remembrance Day.
AnyHowitzer once I worked out my wardrobe (shawl over poncho, yarmulke under sombrero) things went smoothly.
It is interesting (as the media jammers on about our Judeo-Christian country and the 6 MM dead) to note each anniversary decade official government archives are sequentially opened and scholarly analysis is revised, incorporating objective original source material, versus the recollections of traumatized survivors or self serving Nuremberg defendants.
The community of academic historians take note and reflect the refined insights. But apparently the media talking heads don’t. For example; for decades the brass plaque at the Auschwitz gate stating the number of Jews executed there was 4 MM, has been replaced with one stating 1.5 MM. And still the 6MM.
More confounding is the incessant repetition of the phrase ‘Judeo-Christian’.
Obviously the epistemology of the competing theologies is above my pay grade, however the socio-political effect of what we used to call the three Abrahamic mono-theisms is knowable.
I wondered why was it, and when was it, that this phrase became accepted a’priori in our civil discourse to describe American values? Certainly it’s ahistorical. Judaism and it’s plagiarized lineal descendant Islam share the common eastern tenants of secular and religious authority simultaneously residing in a priestly / political / judicial class, requisite religious professions for civil participation, a divine warrant for violent proselytizing, ethnic cleansing, etc. All of which are anathema to professed Christian values.
If historically ‘Judeo-Islamic’ makes more sense than ‘Judeo-Christian’ how and when did the latter work it’s way into the American lexicon?
Using the New York Times’ content analysis algorithm (chronicle.nytlabs.com) to search every article published in ‘The Great Grey Lady’ since 1860 it appears the term entered common parlance when first used publicly by Senator Goldwater and President Eisenhower. The 1950s were a period of emerging anti-Communist / anti-semitisim and the term (originally formulated by the National Conference of Christians and Jews) became part of a prophylactic campaign to keep American’s hostility for the Soviet Union’s Jewish founders and their domestic spies from tainting the view of patriotic Jewish Americans.
Frequency of usage spiked again post 9-11. I suspect this time to parse Islam from the cultural gravitas of ‘the three Abrahamic mono-theisims’ terminology dominant for the prior 50 years.
So, a well intended and successfully orchestrated social construct, but is it theologically valid?
| Theologian Arthur A. Cohen; “The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition” (Commentary Magazine 1969) vis the “theological impossibility of a Judeo-Christian tradition …. the Jews expected a redeemer to come out of Zion; Christianity had affirmed that a redeemer had come out of Zion, but that he had come for all mankind not just the Jews. Judaism denies that claim.”
| Israeli Orthodox Theologian Eliezer Berkovitz; “Judaism is Judaism because it rejects Christianity, and Christianity is Christianity because it rejects Judaism.”
| And the Big Man of Jewish theology himself ….. Maimonides, for whom there was no overlapping magisterium between christian and Jew, although there was between Islamist and Jew; “The Christian peoples, in all of their varied sects, are worshiping idols forbidden to us. While Islam, although ‘mistaken’, is monotheistic and thus can not be constructed as idolatrous.”
| Finally, lest you think Maimonides’ 12th century dogma has undergone some sort of Reformation, current Jewish serious theology (versus the: we’re like you just funnier sitcom image) Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook who, 900 years after Maimonides, is respected by most Orthodox Jews and revered by religious Zionists has written; “With Christianity and it’s concepts one should share nothing, not even what seems good or beneficial … it is only by distancing ourselves from Christian concepts, and by implementing the absolute refusal to gain any benefit from their ideas that our own intellects and sense of self will become pure.”
Discuss amongst yourselves: How can a concept which was unknown to The Founders, was politically contrived to avert a domestic pogrom, and is ontologicaly ridiculous, be any part of our definition of America?