Thursday, February 03, 2005


BBC Radio 4's long running Thought for the Day varies enormously in content and quality. Aside from the battles over the division of air-time between Christians, other faith communities and secular / a-theistic perspectives (which are in my view wrongly excluded at the moment), some see the three-minute reflection as an exercise in cloying piety, while others push the boat out a bit more.

Giles Fraser did the latter this morning. His 'thought' is essential reading in the light of the recent Holocaust memorial events.

"Sixty years after the holocaust, the greatest crime of the twentieth century, the curse of anti-Semitism continues to haunt us.

"Christians often engage with the holocaust by celebrating the courage of other Christians who resisted the Nazis: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoller, Edith Stein. But the truth is, they were rare exceptions.

"For centuries, many Christians have stoked the fires of anti-Semitism with lies and slander. Jews were blamed for the death of Christ. Some believed that Jews practiced child sacrifice. The 4th century saint and theologian Gregory of Nyssa called the Jews 'companions of the devil, accursed, detested, enemies of all that is beautiful'.

"Martin Luther went even further: 'We are at fault in not slaying them,' he said 'Rather we allow them to live freely in our midst despite all their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying.' He went on to advise Christians to 'set fire to their synagogues and schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn.'

"These days, Christians are ashamed by such words. But it's still terribly important to remember them. " See the full text.

Giles is vicar of Putney, lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, a Christian convert from a Jewish background, a columnist for the Guardian, the Church Times and Ekklesia, a co-founder of Inclusive Church.Net, author of a very fine book on Nietzsche... and one of the best theologically equipped commentators and writers the Church of England has (but doesn't own).

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