Why Does the Pope Love This Trippy Dystopian Novel from 1907?

apocalypse

The 2013 election of Pope Francis marked a number of firsts for the Catholic Church: the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first to have worked as a nightclub bouncer, and the first non-European to lead the church in 1200 years.

He’s also the first pontiff to heartily recommend Lord of the World, Robert Hugh Benson’s trippy dystopian novel from 1907—a strange, intense and not entirely successful book about the rise of the anti-Christ, the demise of the Church and the end of the world.

Perhaps Pope Francis’s enthusiasm shouldn’t be so surprising. Benson, a Catholic priest, was a popular writer in his time, and his dark vision of a world destroyed by secular humanism still resonates with a small but loyal following. In a 2013 homily, Pope Francis spoke of Lord of the World “almost as though it were a prophecy.”

And what did Benson prophesy? A catalogue of early 20th century right-wing fears. In Lord of the World, religion has been subsumed to a kind of hyper-rational communism, the professions have been nationalized, and euthanasia and suicide are legal. Worst of all, Esperanto is the official language of Britain.

Julian Felsenburgh, a man of great charisma and linguistic ability, then rises from U.S. senator (from Vermont, no less) to President of the World. He encourages pogroms against Catholics and destroys Rome, which everybody goes along with, even though the guy might as well have a giant blinking Anti-Christ on his forehead.

The President of the World tracks down the last Pope and his retinue, who have taken refuge in Nazareth, and bombs them too. And that’s the end of everything. “Then this world passed, and the glory of it,” writes Benson.

With his flying boats and underground cities, Benson does create a fun kind of steampunk future, avant le lettre. But the novel’s infelicities are numerous. Benson is overfond of turgid passages wherein some character sits around thinking and praying, or praying and thinking, or merely thinking. Not to mention his fatuous conflation of Marxism, Freemasonry and Judaism. (Felsenburgh? Really?)

Benson was part of the great tradition of intellectual Britons who converted to Catholicism—the tradition that gave us John Henry Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, G.K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. If only the quality of Benson’s writing were in the same vein. After reading this book it’s difficult to understand why he was famous in his day.

That is, until one considers the extraordinary success of the Left Behind series. You may recall that these novels (and videos and YA series and films) are a dramatization of the evangelical version of the apocalypse—that is, the Rapture, when all the true believers are snatched up to heaven and the rest of us are left here to battle it out. Left Behind is smug, violent, sexist, racist and anti-Semitic. Reading it, one sometimes imagines a drooling white supremacist scribbling in crayon. Nevertheless this triumphalist version of the End Times has great appeal for millions of Americans, perhaps because it panders to their own prejudices, egos and sense of rightness.

Lord of the World could be considered a kind of inversion of Left Behind. The triumphalist fantasy of Benson’s apocalypse is milder, but it’s there: all Abrahamic competitors—Protestants, Muslims and Jews—succumb to Felsenburgh’s great charms, leaving Catholics to stand alone against secularism. In Lord of the World, Catholics, in fact, are like Jews, oppressed by sumptuary laws and pogroms, eventually forced to practice in secret and finally suffering annihilation.

This romantic vision may explain the novel’s appeal to early 20th century Catholics. But the question is what Pope Francis sees in it. Some commentators wonder whether he harbors apocalyptic yearnings, though it’s more likely that Benson has articulated some of the pope’s own ideological concerns. In that 2013 homily, Pope Francis explained how Lord of the World illustrated the dangers of “adolescent progressivism”—the idea that at any crossroads it’s always better to abandon the traditions of the past.

In a more recent press conference, Pope Francis mentioned Lord of the World in the context of “ideological colonization,” which he described as a foreign entity introducing people to “an idea that has nothing, nothing to do with the nation.” He gave the example of a poor country that couldn’t get loans to build schools unless the students were taught gender theory.

While it is ironic, to say the least, for the leader of the Catholic Church to fret about ideological colonization, I wouldn’t dismiss the pope’s comments entirely. The twentieth century was indeed a time of ideological colonization, when communism was shoved down peoples’ throats. It’s not an exaggeration to say that countless millions died in the supposed name of progress, and in many places (i.e. Poland) the Catholic Church was a real source of fellowship and comfort.

But this is intellectual stuff. My guess is that the novel, with its gentle, steadfast, long-suffering, humane Catholics, exerts a strong emotional appeal for Pope Francis as well. In Left Behind triumphalism manifests in gleeful mass murder. In Lord of the World it manifests in martyrdom.

  • Morten

    “Worst of all, Esperanto is the official language of Britain.”
    How discriminating isn’t that for thousands of people around the world?

  • cranefly

    Catholic philosophy pioneered theological justifications for war, imperial coercion, repression, and monarchical idolatry. If you go back far enough (less than 100 years) you can even find blood/race privilege codified in its holy orders. It’s the dream religion of a totalitarian state. I’m always bewildered to see conservative Catholics portraying themselves as threatening to (i.e. feared/persecuted by) state power in the allegorical abstract.

    Wasn’t the late 19th century a scary time for Catholics, when the Church’s monarchical power disintegrated alarmingly? It couldn’t swallow its enemies (e.g. those named by Pius IX, including “human reason,” and “freedom of conscience”) into its own theology fast enough. Then when other people started taking our state power, we finally started to see how evil state power was. I’m actually feeling good about this book, which I haven’t read but which sounds like it represents a Kubler-Ross stage in Catholics’ awakening to that evil, our own past sins. But I think we – the pope included – are likely to draw the wrong lessons from it.

  • James Stagg

    Stupid remarks………..and obviously biased, as well.

  • cranefly

    Thank you for taking the time out of your life on earth to read them.

  • kentgeordie

    I think you have missed the point. What attracts people to Felsenburgh is his proposals for benevolence without any fundamental values. That is the world we live in today: let’s grant full equality to homosexuals because we have no reason not to. Loving our neighbour without first loving God leads only to ruin.
    Some of Benson’s work is dated, but this novel and By What Authority are well worth reading

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    Yeah, disregarding Pius IX’s warnings regarding the dangers of things like rationalism and hedonism is pretty misguided.

    His Syllabus Of Errors was really a prophetic document in many ways (the dangers of secular public education, for one).

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    Exactly. The ideology of Felsenburgh has a lot in common with the Happy Face, New Age humanism many people espouse nowadays. I read an essay a while back that summarized this nicely, called it Therapeutic Deism.

    The popularity of Rob Bell is a perfect example of this – God simply ‘loves’ us, without the inconvenience of any sort of moral demands or tragic dimensions.

  • Enoch14

    But the real End-Time has already been prophesied.
    read more: http://www.popeleo13.com/pope/category/harvest-of-plagues/

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    Yes, everyone is created equal. There is no reason not to grant equality to anyone until there IS one. Considering Catholicism and Protestantism did a great job sowing the seeds of anti-Judaism throughout Europe, I guess I should be thanking you people – because otherwise my ancestors wouldn’t have emigrated to the Land of the Free.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    If the only thing keeping adherents to a religion loyal is threat of hell, torture, and damnation, it doesn’t seem to me said religion makes a very good case to be an adherent.

  • kentgeordie

    I hope that all Christians would agree with you there!
    The classic view is that there are three reasons for being good: fear of punishment, hope for reward, and love of God and neighbour.
    All three reasons are good if the outcome is good behaviour, but the last is infinitely the strongest

  • NancyP

    Read his brother E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels about small town England. Funny! Made into a TV series about 30 years ago. The whole Benson family was bonkers, excuse me, eccentric. It doesn’t surprise me that Robert was loopy.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    Where did I mention threat of Hell in my post? Odd that you would take that out of a mention of morality and tragedy.

    But then again, the whole ‘Religion = Threat of Hell!’ meme is very popular with some…

  • Rosemary58

    This book sounds like the never-ending theme that comes from the episcopacy which is comprised of finger-wagging at the secular, when the real problem is within the episcopacy itself.

  • Dhaniele

    Part of your critique was on the literary quality. No doubt, he read it in Spanish, and a translator can do a lot to repair or ruin literature. As far as the power of ideology to influence people in a negative way, that’s what 1984 was all about too. Certainly if anyone 50 years ago had predicted the negative kind of culture we are now living in as far as classical Christian values are concerned, he would have been seen as extremist to the point of absurdity.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    “inconvenience of moral demands or tragic dimensions.”

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    That is a complete reach.

    The fact that you automatically make the leap from morality and tragedy to Hell and damnation betrays your hedonistic and, frankly speaking, narcissistic worldview.

    Just because the universe doesn’t revolve around our self-centered pleasure hardly means that God is tyrant waiting to condemn us to Hell (which seems to be the tacit premise behind your posts).

  • FranklinWasRight

    Benson was more than a mere priest convert, his father was the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church.

    He gave up a brilliant career in the Anglican Church and risked alienating his important family in order to cross the Tiber. It was a decision that took him years of discernment.

    This book was not Benson’s most well known, nor critically acclaimed like some of his others. He was popular for his theological and biographical writings as well, and his writing was prolific. Much of his writing was done while still an Anglican.

    While this book is not his “magnum opus,” it is well written. I think the current state of our educational system, public and private, can account for the failure of modern readers to enjoy older texts.

  • FranklinWasRight

    I recommend reading the novel, the church is betrayed from within her own ranks. It is a fascinating character study of human nature in general, the futuristic setting is merely window dressing.

    The society described in the book mirrors our own.

  • FranklinWasRight

    Once someone knows God, it becomes hard not to believe Him when He speaks of hell.

    I’d say most believers spend more time contemplating the promise of Heaven and the nature of God than Hell. Usually angry apostates are the ones who dwell on it.

  • FranklinWasRight

    Yes, and if the persecution and execution of Christ and the early Christians (such as the ones Saul convicted and sentenced to death before his conversion) hadn’t taken place at the hands of the Jews and then the Romans, we wouldn’t have the Church as it is today. So thank you.

    I am sorry for the persecution of your people, but let’s not pretend that only the Christians have blood on their hands. It is tragic that your people have been made scapegoats throughout history, but it is a human trait to do so, not a Christian one.

  • FranklinWasRight

    Loopy? His father was the Archbishopnof Canterbury. Robert, like many saints before him, was a mystic when it came to his inner life. That doesn’t make him loopy.

    And this novel reads like a portrait of modern life. If it is “loopy,” then H.G. Wells was insane.

  • NancyP

    By the standards of Victorian/Edwardian England, the family was a bit odd. BTW, odd Anglican clerics are a staple of English novels. I tend to consider authors who take their own science fiction / future-prediction fiction as serious blueprints of the future a bit loopy. 1…2…3…it’s FICTION.

  • FranklinWasRight

    So Benson was “loopy” because that is the stereotype of clergy in his day? Do you have any actual facts about Benson that back up this assertion?

    He didn’t take the “science fiction” as a “serious blueprint of the future.” Where did you get that? He saw the rise of modernism and relativism within the church and society, and he imagined where this type of ideology could lead to in the future. His novel is a philosophical one, people who focus on the “science fiction” are looking at a pretty miniscule aspect of it. But his predictions for the direction society was headed (spiritually, philosophically, and technologically) were spot on. Does this make him “loopy?” I would argue that he was simply a brilliant man who could analize the modernist and “progressive” ideologies of his time (such as the ones espoused by the Fabians) and then take them to their logical conclusions.

    That is a skill most “post modern” thinkers sadly lack, as logic and reason have been abandoned as modes of though for emotism.

    It sounds as if you haven’t read the novel, and those who focus on the “weird science fiction” aspect have done so because they completely missed the point of the book.

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    gee Kent, how about granting full equality to homosexuals because it is the right thing to do?

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    I find it disturbing that the Pope would fall into the ‘apocalypse’ camp at all. When someone thinks that the end of the world is inevitable and that it would result in the triumph of their religious views, then he or she is on a slippery slope down the road of ‘since it is inevitable, and things will be better afterwards, why not encourage it or at the very least, not do anything that might postpone or stop it’.

    That is more frightening than the actual possibility of the end of the world.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    This is a scandalous and ahistorical dodge. The fact is that Christian anti-Semitism, perpetuated through the Middle Ages, and including things like the Blood Libel and charge of Deicide, not only contributed to the misery of Jews for *millenia* — rather than the relative 5 minutes for which Christians were persecuted, by the Romans — but also led directly to the Shoah.

    I notice that you repeat the Deicide slander here, in your remarks. Shame on you.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Sort of like “let’s grant full equality to Catholics, because we have no reason not to…” Oh, wait.

    You *do* know that Catholics also used to be discriminated against in this country, don’t you? One would think you’d be a bit more sympathetic to the cause of other discriminated against people.

  • Mara319

    Pope Francis initially broke my heart when he scolded [and continues to scold] traditionalists as “self-absorbed neo-Pelagian Prometheans.” Until this report:

    “In a more recent press conference, Pope Francis mentioned Lord of the World in the context of ‘ideological colonization,’ which he described as a foreign entity introducing people to “an idea that has nothing, nothing to do with the nation.” He gave the example of a poor country that couldn’t get loans to build schools unless the students were taught gender theory.”

    And with that, my heartaches are gone – or at least neutralized.

    I’m not surprised the Pope likes “Lord of the World.” It’s not as literati high-brow as any of GK’s, Waugh’s, Hopkin’s [was he a convert, too?] even that pseudo-Catholic Greene’s, but Benson has a message totally in line with Catholic thinking. Evil will penetrate the universal Church and by extension, the world, but the Lord promised that evil will not prevail. Martyrdom will have its reward.

    The author of this review has his own End-of-the-World novel in the making. Let’s see if he can do better than Benson.

  • Phil Steinacker

    Overwrought hyperbole, not to mention lying. You need to get a tissue and wipe the foam from your mouth before it gets all nasty and crusty. It looks disgusting.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I have a degree in history as well as in philosophy. I can easily provide substantial documentation regarding the relationship between the history of Christian Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. This one’s a loser for you.

    As for your warning, piss off. I lost most of my family in the Holocaust. My mother was in Bergen-Belsen.

    Shame, shame, shame.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Pope Francis initially broke my heart when he scolded [and continues to
    scold] traditionalists as “self-absorbed neo-Pelagian Prometheans.”

    ———————————-

    I thought that was one of the best things about him.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    Actually the way the church turned out these past 1500 years, you should probably ALSO be angry at us “for causing the church to happen” (we didn’t, but you’ve already made up your mind anyway).

  • Jarnauga

    Looking at your Disqus posts, it is clear that you have more in common with SSPX than you do with the vast majority of Catholics, especially in America (Love this one, from a month ago: “Vatican II is NOT a dogmatic council; it is merely a pastoral council”); classic Lefebvrist rhetoric. The Church is not going back to the days before Vatican II, however much you long for those good, old Jew-hating days. Vatican II made very clear that the charge of Deicide has no place in the Church. Both your history and your hermeneutics are wrong.

  • Jarnauga

    Yeah, gotta love that old Syllabus, especially the part about how freedom of religion is wrong. So, basically, you want America to be like Saudi Arabia- with miters. Glad we got that cleared up.

  • kentgeordie

    Granting the right to men to marry other men is the right thing to do? Granting same sex couples the right to adopt is the right thing to do?

  • Jarnauga

    Since the thread (and our Jewish friends) are having to put up with the Catholic haters here, I thought I’d post something illustrating a more reasonable (and mainstream) kind of American Catholicism.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-zxn-YGUI4

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    That’s not what it said at all. What it did say was that traditionally Catholic nations and communities ought to be allowed to remain Catholic.

    Considering what’s happening in nations like France and Spain right now, that idea seems to have quite a bit of merit. The one-two punches of neoliberal secularism and Islam certainly haven’t been kind to such places…

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    The Church was persecuted by something considerably more than ‘5 minutes’.

    And the idea that Christianity led to the Holocaust is its own form of libel. The Nazis were Pagan Racists who were denounced by most major Christian denominations. Pope Pius XII even wrote an encyclical denouncing the antisemitism of the Nazis, Mit Brennender Sorge.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Relative to the millennia of persecution of Jews by Christians, the persecution of Christians by the Romans *was* 5 minutes. The Edict of Thessalonica, in which Christianity became the official religion of Rome was 380AD. But discrimination against the Church had already been banned in 313AD, by Imperial Edict. Facts, I’m afraid, are facts.

    As for the history of Christian anti-Semitism leading to the Holocaust, this is no longer disputed by any serious historian. Are you really going to make me list all the academic articles and books that testify to this fact?

    You’re also wrong about the Nazis. The overwhelming majority of them were Christians. This is also a fact for which there is substantial historical evidence. Germany was a Catholic/Lutheran nation. Austria was Catholic.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    You’re right. We should go back to truly Catholic Spain….under Franco. (Who stayed in power — backed by the Church — until 1973).

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    You won’t find me offended by that – Franco saved Spain from the Communists.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I am more than happy to leave it to readers to evaluate your support for the last fascist dictator in Europe. It says everything.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    So even by your own accounting, the Church was subject to persecution by Rome for three centuries.

    Also, the Catholic Church was practically driven from the public sphere in Germany by Bismarck’s Kulturkampf in the late-19th Century.

    So, no don’t bother listing all your ‘academic articles and books’ – if you were so dishonest to ignore the Kulturkampf and Bismark’s suppression of the Church, I’m not going to consider you a credible source for anything historical. You seem like just another biased anti-Christian.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    Yup. Although, I’m sure women marrying women (among other things) is much more appealing in your brain, as it tends to be…

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Lol. Who’s trying to convince you? You’re some demented pre-Vatican 2 throwback.

    I’m talking to everyone else, not you. And it is more than easy for them to use Google and verify what I am saying.

  • Jarnauga

    Syllabus Errorem, 16:

    Liberum cuique homini est eam amplecti ac profiteri religionem, quam rationis lumine quis ductus veram putaverit.

    Every man is free, having embraced and professed his religion, which he shall believe true, guided by the light of reason.

    Apostolic Letter, Multiplices inter, 10th June, 1851; Allocution Maxima quidem, 9th June,1862.
    ___________________________
    The strength of the Church is not to be measured by how it is able use the coercion of the state, but by how the Church does the work of Christ. And that work begins with things like feeding and caring for the poor, precisely a main focus of this pontificate.

    “Tunc ait illis: “Reddite ergo, quae sunt Caesaris, Caesari et, quae sunt Dei, Deo.”
    Evangelium Secundum Matthaeum 22:21

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    Wow, really? A fan of fascism? Well, you have a lot of fellow-travelers at Stormfront.org.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    I bet he’s in league with Mel Gibson, that right-wing homophobic anti-Jewish woman-abusing mental case.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Absolutely. Why not?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    His kind is so rare and so isolated, it just becomes an object lesson in how not to be religious.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I think that those are Protestant fascists. They don’t like the Catholic fascists very much.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    HAH! Well, they agree on everything else!

  • Jarnauga

    Hitler learned his anti-Semitism first from the Church. The pagan BS came much later. Mit Brennender Sorge was too little, too late, especially after having given Hitler the diplomatic triumph and world recognition that came with the earlier Concordat signed with the Reich.

    Over twenty years ago, German bishops acknowledged the responsibility of Catholics regarding the Holocaust and further stipulated that German Catholics especially have a duty to fight against anti-Semitism.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/27/world/german-bishops-cite-catholic-denial-and-guilt-at-holocaust.html

    To be sure, there was some resistance from Catholics, especially before 1933, but not enough, and certainly not enough to stop the Holocaust. That’s another reason Hitler wanted the Concordat from the Vatican- to muzzle any Catholic opposition. Furthermore, the Reichskonkordat has never been abrogated and is *still* the legal basis of relations between the Vatican and Germany.

    Besides the anti-Semitism promoted by Catholics and Protestants in Germany over the centuries and which formed the basis on which the Holocaust was made possible (there is absolutely no question about this), there is also the matter of the oath of loyalty.

    The blasphemous oath sworn by soldiers (all soldiers, including the Wehrmacht, as well as civil servants) to their Führer wasn’t just any oath, but an oath that specifically invoked the Trinity called a Schwurhand (lit. swearing-hand) which is still used today in some parts of Europe (and by the Swiss Guard). It was also the way one swore the oath when joining the Hitler Youth. Those who refused to swear (like theologian Karl Barth) were stripped of their jobs, forced to retire, or worse.

    The oath:

    “Ich schwöre bei Gott diesen heiligen Eid, daß ich dem Führer des Deutschen Reiches und Volkes Adolf Hitler, dem Oberbefehlshaber der Wehrmacht, unbedingten Gehorsam leisten und als tapferer Soldat bereit sein will, jederzeit für diesen Eid mein Leben einzusetzen.”

    “I swear by God this sacred oath that to the Leader of the German empire and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, I shall render unconditional obedience and that as a brave soldier I shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath.”

    Some of us are German Catholics and had family who swore that oath, so please don’t try to lecture us about this history.

  • Jarnauga

    Yes, it does. Besides the more infamous atrocities during the Civil War like Guernica (carried out by Hitler’s Condor Legion), there is also, more particularly, the cooperation of the Chuch in the White Terror.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Terror_%28Spain%29

    This is what it means to support Franco:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/scandal-of-the-spanish-civil-war-mass-graves-2133563.html

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    The guy is a real sicko, there’s not doubt.

    I mean just brazenly expressing admiration for Franco like that. It takes a kind of demented balls. The kind that don’t care whether the civilized world views you as a pariah.

  • Jarnauga

    That’s why it is imperative for Catholics to call out these terrible people and to remind everyone of the historical facts. Especially at the very time when the mass graves in Spain are starting to be exhumed.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Look, he’s clearly some kind of bizarre schismatic, so citing Bishops probably isn’t going to do any good.

    This kind of sick apologist is best left unanswered and shunned.

  • Jarnauga

    True. I guess I just want to set the record straight for any poor passerby that wanders into the board and wonders what the hell this kind of person is doing on Religion Dispatches.

  • FW Ken

    Come Rack, Come Rope is a better read, and has the advantage of having some history behind it.

  • FranklinWasRight

    Eugenics along with the need to scapegoat a group of people for the woes of an entire nation led to the Shoah. Many good Christians spoke out against what was going on and burned in the camps alongside their Jewish brothers and sisters. Other Christians formed a secret resistance and saved as many of their fellow humans as they could, risking death to do so.

    I am not arguing that Christians have not committed atrocities, I am arguing that there is no dogma within Christianity that caused it to be so. The problem is that many people are bad Christians, which is a problem that plagues every religious group there is. That is my point. Blaming Christianity for the woes of humanity is inaccurate and slanderous.

  • FranklinWasRight

    This is the problem, it is not “Christian anti-semitism,” though there are “Christians who are anti-Semites,” their views are not compatible with the teachings of Christ, they are bad Christians.

  • FranklinWasRight

    The Nazis sent used Christianity as a cloak to fool the masses, their neo- pagan belief system was based on the occultism and spiritualism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the writings of Blovatsky which introduced the concept of a “Master Race.” There was nothing Christian about it, and the occultism of the high ranking Nazis is very well documented.

  • FranklinWasRight

    The German church had lost it’s way, as many do. That does not mean that Christianity is anti-Semitic, it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be blamed as a whole for the atrocities committed by Christians or pagans posing as Christians. If a Catholic Church teaches anti-semitism, it is not teaching g authentic Catholocism and should not be portrayed as doing so. The hatred of the German people and their willingness to follow blindly are to blame, not Christianity.

  • FranklinWasRight

    The end of the world is inevitable, it is going to happen. We can never I ow when, but God does provide signs. Either way we are to live our lives so we are ready for death, because it can come at any moment as well. Why is this frightening?

  • Jarnauga

    The paganism was ancillary. If you think the average German gave a damn about that, you’re wrong. And without a lot of help from a lot of average people, things like the Holocaust don’t happen. As for the church, there is a long, long history of anti-Semitism, both Protestant and Catholic. Luther was a vicious anti-Semite. That Syllabus of Errors talked about below in the thread? Besides opposing freedom of religion, it also argued for support of the Papal States, a bastion of freedom where Pius VII rebuilt and imprisoned Rome’s Jews in the Ghetto until Garibaldi brought Italy to its senses in 1870. It’s no good for one to pretend one was the victim when one was on top- that only makes it look like a whiny, pathetic dodge.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    LOL, I’m not sure why Neo-Nazis would admire Franco since he allowed Spain to be a refuge and transit point for Jews escaping the Holocaust.

    But it was a nice try at a Godwin slur, and that’s what counts.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    “(Jesus’) blood shall be upon us and upon our children!” -Matt. 27:25

    “You Jews are children of your father, the Devil” – John 8:44
    See also, 445 others: http://i.imgur.com/eIOyQ14.jpg

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    It’s not part of Godwin’s Law to mention White Supremacists in general, especially when it’s an apt comparison, but A-for-effort anyway.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    You are a walking example of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    So how is Franco a ‘White Supremacist’? Moroccans fought on his side during the Civil War. And historians like Beevor and Shirer admit that he was never cooperative with the Nazis.

    I think you’re just throwing out slurs for the sake of throwing out slurs…

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I’m afraid you just don’t know the history. Jarnauga is trying to educate you.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    No True Scotsman Fallacy.

    Also, the New Testament is full of anti-Semiitsm. (And before you try to say it was written by Jews…it wasn’t.)

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    He was a fascist, not a white supremacist. And you expressed admiration for him. That was the point, I thought.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    Technically, he was an authoritarian. He marginalized the Falangists immediately upon taking power and set Spain on the path to become a Constitutional Monarchy (even Juan Carlos acknowledges this).

    The Falangists always considered Franco a sell-out – read Beevor’s excellent history on the Spanish Civil War if you’re sincerely interested.

    And, given how Spain has suffered under the EU, one could make an argument that there was merit to Franco’s nationalism. A bit of a tangent given the original intention of this thread though…

  • Jarnauga

    “…he was never cooperative with the Nazis.”

    Wrong. He did cooperate with Hitler, including giving a list of 6000 Spanish Jews to Himmler to be deported to the camps should Spain enter the war.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jun/20/franco-gave-list-spanish-jews-nazis

    Spain also shipped significant amounts of raw materiel to Germany, especially wolfram (this continued even after the US imposed an oil embargo on Spain in January 1944). Further, German agents in Spain were operated largely at will. In fact, even at the end of the war OSS chief William Donavon stated that shipping lost late in the war around Gibraltar was linked to German agents in Spanish Morocco and in Tangier.

    Christian Leitz, Nazi Germany and Neutral Europe During the Second World War. Manchester University Press, 2000. Chapter 5, Spain: The Axis Neutral. Part of this is based on Leitz’s doctoral dissertation.

    To get an idea of Franco’s views, it is instructive to look at his regime’s take on events at the end of the war, when he had nothing to lose.

    And then, there’s this:

    “In the final days of the Second World War, Franco was still nurturing secret hopes of Hitler’s wonder weapons turning the tide in favour of the Third Reich,believing that Nazi scientists had harnessed the power of cosmic rays. Indeed, as Allied forces stumbled across the horrendous sights of the extermination camps, the British at Belsen, the Americans at Buchenwald and the Russians at Auschwitz, the Francoist press played down the horrors of the Holocaust as the entirely unavoidable and comprehensible consequence of wartime disorganisation. When Berlin fell, the press printed tributes to the inspirational presence of Hitler in the city’s defence and to the epoch-making fighting qualities of the Wehrmacht. Informaciones declared that Hitler had preferred to sacrifice himself for Europe rather than unleash his secret weapons. Allied victory was seen as the triumph of materialism over heroism. Franco did not break off diplomatic relations with the Third Reich until 8 May, VE Day. Only at that time were the swastikas removed from the embassy building which was duly sealed.”

    Paul Preston, “Franco and Hitler: The Myth of Hendaye 1940. Contemporary European History 1:1 (1992), pp. 1-2.

  • Jarnauga

    Technically, he was hoping Hitler would win right up until the end of the war. In the broad sense of the term, that makes him a fascist, whatever particular Spanish Catholic flavoring his fascism may have had.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    That’s simply not true. Franco’s regime provided some very quiet but critical support to the allies in the Mediterranean Theater – passage through the Straits of Gibraltar, refusing to launch an offensive from Spanish Morocco after Operation Torch. Plus, after Normandy, he even disbanded the Blue Division.

    Franco was also a stalwart ally of the US during the Cold War, allowing nuclear-armed bombers and subs to use Spanish bases.

    Just because you disagree with him ideologically shouldn’t give you the right to make up things out of whole cloth.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    The Guardian, really?

  • Jarnauga

    Spare me the clown antics. Here’s the same in a conservative broadsheet:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/7841759/Franco-drew-up-list-of-6000-Jews-in-Spain-for-Hitler.html

  • Jim Reed

    He called him Stephen Colbert. I thought his name was Stephen Colbert now.

  • Jarnauga

    I’ve already made clear above the support Franco’s regime rendered to Hitler even with the oil embargo in 1944. There was a reason he was ostracized by the Allies after the war. That he later became our ally against the Soviets means nothing, given whom we were willing to ally with during the Cold War. Nothing I have written is false- it is you who are whitewashing his record.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    ‘Given whom we were willing to ally with during the Cold War’ – you mean – gasp! – anti-Communists.

    I’ll bet you would spa- hammer similar screeds against General Pinochet and Alberto Fujimori as well.

  • CArm MAdrigraal

    Do you know what is funny Aravis? The fact that America allied itself with the communists because Fascism was a bigger danger! Franti should bone up on his history

  • Jarnauga

    So you’re also a Pinochet fan. Keep digging- I’ll just watch.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    ‘Digging’? Chile has been the most prosperous nation in the region for decades. And, like the Spanish Left during the 30s, Allende was a menace to his nation’s freedom.

    For someone who trumpets their historical knowledge with such shrill insistence, you certainly don’t seem to know much – or, better said, everything you know seems filtered through the same stale academic left prism.

    Tell the truth, you’re a professor, right?

  • Jarnauga

    I’m sure the thousands of people murdered by Pinochet appreciate your economic argument.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    Governments exist to protect prosperity, freedom and rule of law, by force if necessary. When push came to shove, Pinochet did exactly that

    Franco did essentially the same thing although, in the case of Spain, the abuses the Leftist government subjected the people to were even greater, including the burning of Churches and the rape/murder of clergy.

  • Jarnauga

    The Supreme Court of Chile thought otherwise, which is why they indicted him in 2006. Lucky for him, he died soon after. I’m sure you always have a rationale for the piles of corpses produced by your favorite dictators. Have fun talking to yourself.

  • http://www.paulfrantizek.com/ Paul Frantizek

    Thanks for the pleasant conversation!

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I’ve never seen a person openly admit that they admire murderous dictators. It’s incredible.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    How can he? He *is* a clown.

    One almost wonders whether he’s trolling. Who comes out in public and admits to admiring dictatorships?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    So, how do you feel about your buddy Paul Frantizek, here, the Christian shilling for fascist dictatorships?

  • FranklinWasRight

    He’s not my buddy, I see that guilt by association tactic now includes simply being on the same comment board with someone, even they are a stranger you didn’t interact with. Why don’t you argue about what I said, since the wrong headed comments of people I don’t know have nothing to do with me.

  • FranklinWasRight

    The New Teastament is not anti-Semitic. That is slanderous. Speaking out about political abuses of power within the Jewish community of His time, as Jesus did, is not anti-Semitic. Speaking out against the persecution Christians were experiencing at the hands of the Jews, as Paul did, is not anti-semetic. There is enough actual anti-semeti in the world, it is tragic you don’t see the difference.

    Most of the apostles were Jewish converts, such as the Gospel writer John, Peter who wrote epistles, and Paul who wrote a great chunk of the NT was most certainly a Jewish convert, and so was considered still considered Jewish under the law his entire life.

    You are obviously anti-Christian, as your analysis and arguments show you are not interested in the actual history.

  • FranklinWasRight

    I do know history, the church in Germany during the rise of the Nazis very much resembled the Church in China today, where faithful Catholics are either persecuted or forced underground, and a large number of others go along to get along and cave to government demands.

  • FranklinWasRight

    It isn’t a fallacy. Christ was very clear about his teachings, and they didn’t include anti-semitism.

  • FranklinWasRight

    Funny, my translation of John 8:44 does not say “Jews” anywhere. Jesus was not condemning all “sons of Abraham,” he was using a rhetorical device because they had called themselves “sons of Abraham” and he was saying if you reject the Messiah and his teachings you are then “sons of The Devil.” He was not speaking to all Jews, he was speaking directly to a specific group of people and answering their questions. According to Christianity, you either believe in Christ or you become a dupe of the devil. This isn’t anti-semitism, Jesus didn’t hate anyone, he didn’t call for revenge or punishment against those who didn’t believe. He spoke truth and many hated Him for it.

  • FranklinWasRight

    We aren’t talking about average Germans, we are talking about the elite Nazis who planned and then carried out the Shoah. The weak Christianity of the German people certainly helped them turn a blind eye, and those who didn’t turn a blind eye were often burned in the ovens as well.

    The holocaust was an attempt to “cleanse” humanity of the “inferior races” to help bring about the “master race” the Nazis saw as the only hope for humanity. These beliefs are nowhere to be found in Christianity. But Eugenics was a popular science amongst progressives and socialists (such as the Fabians) of the day, hence Margarent Sanger visiting to observe Germany’s sterilization program in the 1930’s. And the concept of a “master race” is found in the writings of Blavatsky and her subsequent occultist followers, whom the Nazis were influenced by.

  • FranklinWasRight

    My point was not that anti-semitism hadn’t played a role, my point is that anti-semitism is a perversion of the teachings of Christ, and not all anti-semitism comes from Christians. You can’t blame the belief system as a whole, you can blame the evil deeds on the evil people who perpetrated them without blaming the teachings of Christ, as they are blameless.

    No twisted reading of the scriptures can change that.

    And some of the most horrific anti-semitism throughout world history has NOT been committed by Christians. The Nazis who engineered the “Final Solution” we’re Eugenicists and paganistic spiritualists. The call for the annihilation of Israel is coming from Shiite Muslims. The Boycott Israel movement has been led by Muslims and secularists here in America, many of the secular Jews. The main voice for continuing support of Israel in America is coming from American Christians. We are the ones trying to make sure Israel receives the funding and equipment and intelligence it needs to fight back and prevent another Shoah, against the opposition of many in our own government.

    Have Christians committed anti-Semitic atrocities in history? Yes. Are there Christians who are anti-Semitic? Yes. Have some churches espoused anti-Semitism? Yes. That doesn’t make Christianity anti-Semitic, it isn’t. It makes those Christians bad people as well as bad Christians.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I was speaking someone tongue-in-cheek, and I have responded to what you said. The relationship between historical Christian anti-Semitism and the Holocaust is well-documented and explained by professional historians. The attempt to claim “well, none of those people were *real* Christians” is a classic example of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Most Jews find the New Testament quite anti-Semitic. Yes, it is tragic, but that is not our fault. And slanderous it is not. Do I really need to start quoting from Matthew?

    It is you who is not interested in real history. We know absolutely nothing about the biographies of the New Testament authors, other than what is in the NT itself, but for a handful of stray remarks in other sources.

    The “persecution” you are talking about, if it is fair to call it that, was of Jews against Jews. The “early Christians” were just another sect, like the Essenes or the Zealots. Most of the positive elements of Jesus’s message — like the Golden Rule — belong to Pharisaic Judaism and were already articulated by people like Hillel.

    I actually learned this stuff from some of the best Near Eastern Studies scholars, at the University of Michigan, when I was there, as a student, years ago. It’s *your* history that is biased by your affiliation with the Church, not mine.

  • Dhaniele

    By the way, isn’t Pope Francis supposed to be the one named in the prophecies of St. Malachy as coming in an era of crisis for civilization? It is then that Jesus is supposed to intervene to set things right. If that is not apocalyptic I do not know what is.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    Uh huh. Still leaves 446 other verses.

  • Jarnauga

    What you call weak Christianity was mainstream. This is just another example of the No True Scotsman fallacy. The fact is that both Catholics and Protestants were taught *as part of their religion* to hate Jews. Hence Luther’s anti-Semitism as well as that of the popes, including the rebuilding of the Rome Ghetto in the 1800s. Blaming the Holocaust on a few dozen weirdos running through the woods looking for Wotan is a dodge. Have fun talking to yourself.

  • kentgeordie

    You say: “The fact is that both Catholics and Protestants were taught *as part of their religion* to hate Jews”.
    Is that all Catholics and Protestants everywhere and always? If not, which ones where and when?
    We can easily find a few examples of Christians teaching and practicing anti-semitism, but your confidently sweeping claim is baseless.

  • CitizenWhy

    Citizenship has its values, including solidarity (concern for others, including society’s weak and poor, a value normally lacking in the conservatives supported by politicized Catholics), liberty (respect for the autonomy of the individual), and equality (all citizens have the same rights and responsibilities).

    Marriage is a secular institution, existing long before Christianity came on the scene and vastly different from anything Christian in many places, such as Muslim countries. And mating and marraige among the human primates is not given its primary purpose by estrus and the need to procreate. For Christains to claim ownesrship over the institution of marriage is fatuous and full of mischief.

  • CitizenWhy

    I think the pope has included laissez-faire capitalism (sold in the USA as Liberatrianism and free markets) among the ideological colonizers that undermine family and religion. What would conservative Catholics think of that?

  • Jarnauga

    See elsewhere on the thread the discussion of anti-Semitism in the scriptures. Besides that, the endemic anti-Semitism of Catholicism was a major reason for Nostra Aetate, as well as the German Catholic bishops’ apology on behalf of the Church 20 years ago. As for Protestants, they too have come clean, both more recently and in 1945, with the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt by the German Evangelical Church (note: Evangelical does not mean the same thing in Germany as the US). From one of Germany’s top Lutheran ministers in 2013:

    “Bis auf wenige Einzelne versagte die evangelische Kirche in der Zeit des
    Nationalsozialismus, weil sie Menschen jüdischen Glaubens nicht
    schützte und sich dem Holocaust nicht vehement entgegenstellte. Erst
    nach 1945 begann sie, den verhängnisvollen Weg des Antijudaismus zu
    verlassen. Viele, auch evangelische Wissenschaftler haben diese
    Geschichte aufgearbeitet; auch hat die evangelische Kirche nach 1945 die
    Bedeutung des jüdischen Erbes für den christlichen Glauben völlig neu
    verstehen gelernt.”

    http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/fremde-federn-margot-kaessmann-die-dunkle-seite-der-reformation-12131764.html

  • Smknws

    IF God sent Jesus to die for sins ,
    then who ever was responsible for it ,was working for God

    therefore NO ONE but God is to blame …. why did
    Jesus say , father why have you forsaken me

    supposedly he knew why he was hanging on a cross
    .

    Also why would the ONLY son of God die the same death
    as millions of ordinary people

    women and children included .. as a child in RC school
    I was led to believe

    Jesus was the only person , with two thieves to
    die on a cross .If the story of Jesus is
    true the

    birth .. life .. and death of Jesus , God being God ..
    would have made sure to have the whole life of

    Jesus documented so there would be NO doubts .Writing
    wasn’t new .. I am not saying Jesus didn’t exist .

    I am sure he never thought he was A CHRISTIAN he was
    born and died a Jew and we pray to the

    same God that Jesus prayed to.

    I have seen every documentary about all, religions ..
    age and pain give me lots of time for TV

    every one of them use the words , possible ..
    maybe..no absolute proof , i wasted 2 hours watching

    CNN finding Jesus ..not ONE surprise ,nothing new
    same old !!! shroud .. not old enough to be Jesus ..

    finger of John the Baptist not old enough , wont be
    watching the rest of them . If Jesus does come back ,

    he will set the record straight .Only he knows what
    happened to him .. and he will have to have written

    documented proof if we are to believe him .

  • Jim Reed

    Interesting questions. If Jesus does come back we need to check if his birth certificate is authentic.

  • Jim Reed

    Christians are no better and no worse than anybody else, even if they do have Jesus and the Holy Spirit living in their hearts and guiding them, as opposed to other people who have the devil in their hearts guiding them. The only thing that might make Christians a little more unpredictable than other people is that crazy end times belief.

  • Smknws

    I will want a lot more than a birth certificate and his name won’t be Jesus !!! maybe John 😉

  • DHFabian

    It’s not hard to picture a dystopian (not-so-distant) future in the US, in which we dispose of/euthanize our “surplus population” — those who can’t work (health, etc.) and those for whom there are no jobs. We’re already dangerously close. We’ve turned our backs on most of these, dumping the jobless poor out on the streets and waiting for police to either scoop them up or keep them in hiding, and our Congress has increasingly targeted the disabled/seriously ill. By now, the “masses” no longer regard/treat the very poor as human at all, but more like pigeons or mice.

  • DHFabian

    Disagree. Consider how we treat our poor. The word for this is “brutality,” not “benevolence,” though it is certainly divorced from any values.

  • DHFabian

    Churches easily fall into reflecting/projecting the worst of any culture, simply because churches are made up of people.

  • DHFabian

    Instead of pointing at has been done by others, look at ourselves, right now. Internationally, the US has been a force of violence and death for the past century, remaining engaged in wars more often than not, almost always by choice. We have killed multi-millions of people, but really don’t give this much thought. Closer to home, how many Americans actually know how our very poor are treated today, and of those, how many would care? The more advanced nations remain shocked by American brutality.

  • DHFabian

    Those who actually “have Jesus and the Holy Spirit living in their hearts and guiding them” don’t have the hate within themselves to commit evil acts. It just doesn’t happen. That’s the difference between Christianity and churchism.

  • DHFabian

    Odd. What did Aravis Tarkheena say that was a lie, or even hyperbolic?

  • DHFabian

    I don’t think you get it. People who call themselves Christian (or any other religion) can and do commit horrible evils, even though the religion condemns those evils. It’s similar to the way Americans can insist that this is a peace-loving nation in spite of the fact that we’ve remained engaged in wars almost constantly, almost always by choice, for the past 100+ years. War is what we do. Our land of freedom — and who doesn’t believe in our freedom? — now has a prison system that makes the old Soviet gulag look puny in comparison.

  • DHFabian

    Very well said.

  • DHFabian

    Churches are under the influence of the dominant culture, simply because churches are made up of people. In the US, even Catholics dismiss or “explain away” everything the current pope says about our own treatment of our poor. In spite of the pope, and in spite of New Testament teachings, the dominant culture apparently supports our current agenda, which has filled prisons with impoverished Americans and resulted in the falling life expectancy of this segment of our population.

  • DHFabian

    In other words, you aren’t familiar with the New Testament, are you?

  • Jim Reed

    I guess there would be no way to know which people those are. Right now all you can do is go by self reporting, and hope for the best.

  • DHFabian

    Are you able to put things into the context of the historical place and time?

  • Jim Reed

    No, I think he is saying Christians aren’t familiar with the New Testament.

  • DHFabian

    Do you realize how dangerously close Americans — good, Christian Americans — have come to imitating the worst of what we condemn, via the WWll internment camps, Gitmo, etc.? More in the “right here, right now” category, our current treatment of our own poor directly contradicts Christ’s teachings, yet Christians simply don’t see the connection, or they explain it away/”justify” it. When a population can be persuaded to believe that a specific group of people are something less than human, many/most are eager to scapegoat them to whatever degree is allowed — regardless of religion or anything else. Churches do reflect the culture.

  • DHFabian

    Eugenics is antithetical to progressivism and actual socialism. Socialism is an economic construct. Progressivism is a broader philosophy/world view that is firmly grounded in “the common good.”

  • DHFabian

    The fact is that Christ didn’t teach hate and violence. Quite the opposite.

  • DHFabian

    I certainly haven’t come across any of Jesus’ teachings that support your contentions. How people might twist and exploit those teachings through history is a separate issue.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    So, two things:

    1. Are you suggesting that the “No true Scotsman fallacy” really isn’t a fallacy?

    2. I don’t think you can separate “the religion” from “the people” in the manner that you are suggesting here. I don’t think there is any such thing as some abstract object that is “the religion.” What “the religion” is, is a function of how it is interpreted by its adherents.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    As I said, I have a degree from the University of Michigan in Ancient Near Eastern History, with an emphasis on Second Temple Judaism. I suspect I am more “familiar” with the NT than you are.

    Do you actually have an argument? Because I’ve been quite specific. Your hand waving doesn’t count for much, in that context.

  • FranklinWasRight

    The “common good” is exactly the argument that progressives such as Margaret Sanger and Hitler used for their advancement of Eugenics. Today’s progressives, such as Peter Singer, also see the “common good” as well as individual freedom being advanced by aborting fetuses with disabilities and helping those with terminal illnesses commit suicide. The word Eugenics went out of vogue after the Holocaust, but the aims of a more perfect society are the same and abortion and euthanasia are the means. It is not a coincidence that these method are pushed by socialists and socialist societies.

    The rest of us realize Utopia on earth is a noble goal, but the ends do not justify the means, namely the slaughter of innocent people. You are blind to the reality of who your fellow travelers actually are and what they advocate.

  • Jarnauga

    When the anti-Semitism goes back two millennia, it’s more than just a problem of local culture.

  • Jarnauga

    To the “scribes and Pharisees”: “ὄφεις γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν πῶς φύγητε ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης?” “Serpents and offspring of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” Matthew 23:33.

    Real hippy-dippy, the Jesus of the Gospels. All that anti-Semitism couldn’t have come from passages like this. Nah. Must have been something in the water.