Christianity, the Other, and the Holocaust

Christianity, the Other, and the Holocaust

Christianity, the Other, and the Holocaust

Christianity, the Other, and the Holocaust

Synopsis

Illustrates that the Holocaust was a late but "logical" development in a long series of violent Christian responses to "the Other."

Excerpt

Most scholars over the years have seen the Holocaust as a terrible rupture in Western culture and civilization, an event that shattered all previously known moral categories. This is quite understandable, given the sheer enormity of the events and their location on a continent and in a century deemed by many to be a vast improvement over past human experiences. With the greatest of respect for these scholars, their work, and the sheer magnitude of the emotional and intellectual demands this subject makes on those who devote their lives to its study, my work seeks to reveal the degree to which the Holocaust, with its distinguishing features, is instead the culminating point of an intricate cultural process covering at least seventeen centuries. That is to say, Western. Christianity’s civilization and culture did not, in fact, “fail.” Indeed, operating as they had been designed to do in order to produce religious, theological, and cultural uniformity on large numbers of people for those seventeen centuries, they achieved an unparalleled peak of efficiency in the death camps after centuries of brutal applications against the Other across the globe. During those centuries, all available technologies and cultural pressures and practices had been brought to bear against the Other, with large numbers of people directly involved and an even larger number doing nothing to help the afflicted victims. the Holocaust certainly continued that lamentable pattern.

Continuity marks the depredations practiced against the various groups constituting the Other from the early centuries of Christianity until today. First, there is the simple matter of separation, the identification of the Other as a group that is “not” Christian, initially the Jews, the Disconfirming Other. Then steps were taken against the Other, especially in the form of legal pressures or church directives that severely circumscribed the lives of the Other. Then dehumanization . . .

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