Sunday, April 26, 2009

Constantine's Sword: a focus on Christian Antisemitism

I was presenting at a Harvard board meeting a few weeks ago and found out about this film, Constantine's Sword, a story on James Carroll, a former Catholic priest on a journey to confront his past and uncover the roots of religiously-inspired violence and war. His search also reveals a growing scandal involving religious infiltration of the U.S. military and the terrible consequences of religion’s influence on America’s foreign policy.

I watched it last night and thought it was great. The film looks at antisemitism in Carroll's own tradition, Christianity. A thoughtful, balanced piece that does not shy away from the tragic past and asking the tough questions of the day on this issue.

Some memorable quotes:

"What planet are you on? If you want to make religion a constructive force in society, religions must begin with a honest admission of those moments when they haven't been a constructive force; when they have been a deconstructive force."
Priest John Pawlikowski, President of the International Council of Christians & Jews

"What frustrates me to no end is when religious leaders get up and give the impression that religion has always been on the side of good and virtue. It hasn't. Let's be honest."
Priest John Pawlikowski, President of the International Council of Christians & Jews

"Every religious person has to take responsibility for the way in which their tradition encourages intolerance, suspicion, hatred of the other..."
James Carroll, Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Suffolk University. Carroll’s new book, Practicing Catholic, will be published in the Spring of 2009.

These quotes really hit home for me as I thought about my own religion and my own tradition. Not just the past but what is going on today, right now. I also thought how the "other", as Carroll refers to above, is not just people of other religions but often times those within the same religious community but who have "other" views or "other" ways of seeing the same scenario.

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