No hope or solace from secularism
To the editor:
David Keranen’s recent letter began with a contrivance of esoteric words, ridiculing Lutheran Christianity.
Keranen provided seven quotations which convicted Luther of anti-Semitism. However, Keranen’s opinion that Luther “unwittingly” may have been partly responsible for the Holocaust” was overkill. Seemingly, Keranen’s zealousness was triggered by author Lucy Dawidowicz’s conclusion: “a clear path of anti-Semitism passes from Luther to Hitler.”
Conversely, Baylor professor Dr. Rodney Stark asserts “that a deep hostility toward Jews existed long before the birth of Jesus.” From Seneca who impugned Jews as an “accursed race,” to Cicero who thought the religion “at variance with the glory of our empire,” and to Tacitus who deemed Jewish tradition “sinister and revolting,” the prejudice was prevalent. In 139 BCE, Jews were expelled not only from Rome, but from all of Italy. “Anti-Semitism did not arise from the conflict between Christians and Jews due to the divinity of Jesus.”(Stark)
Although Keranen blames Christian theology for generating anti-Semitism, nowhere does the New Testament encourage persecution. The church responded to incidents of mob violence toward Jews (554 AD, France) by strongly condemning forced conversions and declaring them invalid.
Respected historian Leon Poliakov wrote that Jews “lived on excellent terms” within Christian populations until the 11th century. Afterward, “bishops attempted, sometimes at the peril of their own lives, to protect the Jews.” Unfortunately, Jews continued to be expelled from Germany’s Rhineland, throughout the mid-19th century.
Keranen’s letter concluded with a reference to “Plato’s Cave,” an allegory depicting chained prisoners, mindlessly existing in a shadowland. According to Plato, “education” could “enlighten” and free such prisoners. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche expanded upon Plato’s theory, saying mankind needed to “remove the yoke of any repressive ideologies which hinder imagination.” Like Nietzsche, Keranen views Christianity as that repressive ideology which works like “a brain virus,” nullifying enlightenment and confining one to that cave.
Nietzsche died in unrelenting pain, and suffering from dementia. Years before, Nietzsche had rejected the faith of his father, a Lutheran pastor, and felt hopeless. “It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night.” Unsurprisingly, Nietzsche failed “to achieve happiness within.”
Keranen quoting the Bible is tremendously beneficial. How else can one experience the Word of our creator so intimately? Our secular culture highly prizes independence, but it cannot provide hope or solace for our pain.