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Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews: A Historyby James Carroll
"An impressive dissection of anti-semitism by an ex-Roman Catholic priest. His starting point is the placing of crosses at Auschwitz and the ensuing controversy over the canonization of Edith Stein. As a Jew, I have understood the presence of anti-semitism but have never understood the historical antecedents. Carroll writes persuasively about the historical growth and, most importantly, the historical choices that were made by Christians that lead to Auschwitz."
Synopses & Reviews
In a book that is sure to spark heated debate, the novelist and cultural critic James Carroll maps the profoundly troubling two-thousand-year course of the battle against Judaism and faces the crisis of faith it has provoked in his own life as a Catholic. More than a chronicle of religion, this dark history is the central tragedy of Western civilization, its fault lines reaching deep into our culture. The Church's failure to protest the Holocaust the infamous "silence" of Pius XII is only part of the story: the death camps, Carroll shows, are the culmination of a long, entrenched tradition of anti-Judaism. From Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus on the cross, to Constantine's transformation of the cross into a sword, to the rise of blood libels, scapegoating, and modern anti-Semitism, Carroll reconstructs the dramatic story of the Church's conflict not only with Jews but with itself. Yet in tracing the arc of this narrative, he implicitly affirms that it did not necessarily have to be so. There were roads not taken, heroes forgotten; new roads can be taken yet. Demanding that the Church finally face this past in full, Carroll calls for a fundamental rethinking of the deepest questions of Christian faith. Only then can Christians, Jews, and all who carry the burden of this history begin to forge a new future.
"A deeply religious book written at levels of understanding and with clarity of insights rarely if ever reached in the telling of this painful story." Bishop Krister Stendahl, former dean, Harvard Divinity School
"How can one categorize Constantine's Sword? It is in part a memoir of an American Catholic of a particular generation, a self-confessed 'lefty' whose political and spiritual awakening came during the Vietnam War. It is also a history of the long and bitter fruits of the schism among Jews two millenniums ago about the meaning of eschatology, messianism and faith itself the schism that finds its origin in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth. And it is a book of a deeper sort a rigorous theological and moral dialectic that Carroll, the author of An American Requiem, never removes from the personal necessity of choice, for good over evil, for memory over denial and for love over power....The story is strong because it is framed within Carroll's own personal story..." From New York Times Book Review
"James Carroll's Constantine's Sword is an astonishing work of historical research that sweeps you up in the scenes of revelation that open, one upon the other, to explore the Church's role in anti-Semitism, a tale that has been told, at best, by halves before this. To read this book is a thrilling experience. It reveals unhappy truths about Catholicism in a profoundly Catholic way. Carroll is a man who loves his faith but loves truth, too. He tells a story that every Christian must read and every Catholic must sense as an expression of a new consciousness of what it means to be a Christian Catholic." Eugene Kennedy
Examines the two-thousand-year relationship between Christianity and Judaism, examining the long entrenched tradition of anti-Semitism that culminated in the Church's failure to protest the Holocaust during World War II.
“A rare book that combines searing passion with a subject that has affected all of our lives.”—Chicago Tribune
Novelist, cultural critic, and former priest James Carroll marries history with memoir as he maps the two-thousand-year course of the Churchs battle against Judaism and faces the crisis of faith it has sparked in his own life. “Fascinating, brave, and sometimes infuriating” (Time), this dark history is more than a chronicle of religion. It is the central tragedy of Western civilization, its fault lines reaching deep into our culture to create “a deeply felt work” (San Francisco Chronicle) as Carroll wrangles with centuries of strife and tragedy to reach a courageous and affecting reckoning with difficult truths.
About the Author
Born in Chicago in 1943 and raised in Washington, D.C., where his father was an Air Force general and the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, James Carroll was educated at Washington's Priory School and at an American high school in Wiesbaden, Germany. He attended Georgetown University before entering St. Paul's College, the Paulist Fathers' seminary, where he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees. Carroll has been a civil rights worker, an antiwar activist, and a community organizer in Washington and New York. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. Carroll served as Catholic chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974. During that time, he studied poetry with George Starbuck and published books on religious subjects and a book of poems. He was also a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter (1972-1975) and was named Best Columnist by the Catholic Press Association. For his writing on religion and politics he received the first Thomas Merton Award from Pittsburgh's Thomas Merton Center in 1972. Carroll left the priesthood to become a writer, and in 1974 was a playwright-in-residence at the Berkshire Theater Festival. His plays have been produced at the BTF and at Boston's Next Move Theater. In 1976 he published his first novel, Madonna REd, which was followed by among others Mortal Friends (1978), Prince of Peace (1984), and Memorial Bridge (1991). The City Below (1994) is now available in a Houghton Mifflin trade-paperback edition. He has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, and his op-ed column appears weekly in the Boston Globe. He won a National Book Award for An American Requiem.
Table of Contents
Contents Part one The Cross at Auschwitz 1. Sign of Folly 3 2. Stumbling Block to Jews 13 3. The Journey 19 4. My Mothers Clock 24 5. Passion Play 31 6. My Rabbi 37 7. Between Past and Future 58 Part two New Testament Origins of Jew Hatred 8. My Great-Uncle 67 9. Jesus, a Jew? 71 10. The Threshold Stone 89 11. Destroy This Temple 100 12. The Healing Circle 122 13. Paul, the Martyr of Shalom 135 14. Parting of the Ways 144 15. The Lachrymose Tradition: A Cautionary Note 150 Part three Constantine, Augustine, and the Jews 16. The Heart of This Story Is a Place 155 17. The Story of Constantine 165 18. The Cross and the Religious Imagination 172 19. The Vision of Constantine 178 20. The True Cross 195 21. Augustine Trembling 208 22. The Seamless Robe 220 23. The Danger of Ambivalence 229 Part four From Crusades to Conversionism 24. The War of the Cross 237 25. The Incident in Trier 246 26. Mainz Anonymous 257 27. The Blood Libel 268 28. Anselm: Why God Became Man 278 29. Abelard and Hélodse 290 30. Thomas Aquinas: Reason Against the Jews 301 Part five The Inquisition: Enter Racism 31. One Road 313 32. My Inquisition 319 33. Convivencia to Reconquista 322 34. Convert-Making: The Failure of Success 333 35. Expulsion in 1492 343 36. The Roman Ghetto 363 37. The Religious Response of the Jews 385 38. Shema Yisrael! 391 Part six Emancipation, Revolution, and a New Fear of Jews 39. Karl Marx, Second Son of Trier 401 40. Spinoza: From Rabbis to Revolution 406 41. Voltaire and the False Promise of Emancipation 414 42. Jew as Revolutionary, Jew as Financier 426 43. Revolution in Rome: The Popes Jews 439 44. Alfred Dreyfus and La Croix 450 45. The Uses of Antisemitism 464 46. Lucie and Madeleine 467 Part seven The Church and Hitler 47. From Christian Anti-Judaism to Eliminationist Antisemitism 475 48. Setting a Standard: The Church Against Bismarck 479 49. Eugenio Pacelli and the Surrender of German Catholicism 495 50. The Seamless Robe in 1933 501 51. Maria Laach and Reichstheologie 511 52. Pius XII: Last Days of the Roman Ghetto 523 53. Edith Stein and Catholic Memory 536
Part eight A Call for Vatican III 54. The Broad Relevance of Catholic Reform 547 55. Agenda for a New Reformation 559 56. Agenda Item 1: Anti-Judaism in the New Testament 561 57. Agenda Item 2: The Church and Power 570 58. Agenda Item 3: A New Christology 577 59. Agenda Item 4: The Holiness of Democracy 588 60. Agenda Item 5: Repentance 599 Epilogue: The Faith of a Catholic 605 Acknowledgments 619 Chronology 622 Notes 628 Bibliography 696 Index 720
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