Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Headline: "Jewish complaints excessive, Vatican says"

George Harrison (of Beatles fame) wrote an anti-war song on one of his solo albums whose lyrics contained a line that went something like, "[countries at war] are acting like big girls." Although spiritually a devotee of Krishna, George had a cynical, sarcastic streak -- astrology buffs might call it the Piscean in him -- and when he targeted someone for criticism, he did it obliquely but trenchantly, as when he warned of "greedy leaders/Who take you where you should not go." (George was prescient, since the last line obviously refers to George W. Bush and his Iraqi misadventure.) Sometimes religious groups act like big girls, too, as witness the current spat between Jews and the Catholic Church.

Our paper yesterday carried an AP story the copy desk decided to headline as "Jewish complaints excessive, Vatican says." It was a story originating in Vatican City and published in its daily paper, L'Osservatore Romano, a story about a spat between Jews and Christians. If I can put things in chronological order, it appears that an organization called the Assembly of Italian Rabbis pulled out of the Italian Catholic Church's annual celebration of Judaism. Why were the rabbis splitting? They were offended by the Vatican's restoration to the old Latin Mass, including a prayer for the conversion of Jews!

As a friend observed recently, it's difficult to imagine how anyone could claim membership in a religion that teaches that non-Christians are condemned to Hell just because they are non-Christians. This effectively eliminates 2/3rds of the world's peoples. But the Catholic-Jewish clergy's ongoing spat-then-kiss-and-make-up spectacle has deep roots and isn't likely ever to be resolved. It goes back to the blood libel of Jews being responsible for the crucifixion, an insanely illogical grudge when you consider that the Jewish people who condemned Jebus were merely fulfilling Christian prophecy! (For the same reason, I've never understood why they demonize Judas of Kerioth.)

In the new documentary film, The God Who Wasn't There, which is quite brilliant, I might add, we're treated to "borrowed" footage from the silly Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ. Brian Flemming, the documentary director, shows us the blood-fest torturing of Reb Yeshua, more violent than your average spatter movie, but my complaint was that it was made cheaply at Cine Citta with inept actors; that, and the fact that Gibson seemed to equate having everything in Aramaic with English subtitles. But the film prompted pre-release controversy because some groups saw it as a son's homage to a dad: Gibson's father is a well-known anti-Semite.

How any religion that teaches the Messiah has come and will come again can get along with a religion that teaches that He hasn't come yet is a mystery to me. So, I suspect the on-again, off-again palling around by the Vatican and the rabbis has some reconciliation ahead of it (if you know what I mean). Obviously, both religions cannot be right.

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