“Contraceptive sex,” wrote social science researcher Mary Eberstadt in 2012, “is the fundamental social fact of our time.” In this important and pointed book, Charles E. Rice, of the Notre Dame Law School, makes the novel claim that the acceptance of contraception is a prelude to persecution. He makes the striking point that contraception is not essentially about sex. It is a First Commandment issue: Who is God? It was at the Anglican Lambeth Conference of 1930 when for the first time a Christian denomination said that contraception could ever be a moral choice. The advent of the Pill in the 1960s made the practice of contraception practically universal. This involved a massive displacement of the Divine Law as a normative measure of conduct, not only on sex but across the board. Nature abhors a vacuum. The State moved in to occupy the place formerly held by God as the ultimate moral Lawgiver. The State put itself on a collision course with religious groups and especially with the Catholic Church, which continues to insist on that traditional teacher. A case in point is the Obama Regime’s Health Care Mandate, coercing employees to provide, contrary to conscience, abortifacients and contraceptives to their employees. The first chapter describes that Mandate, which the Catholic bishops have vowed not to obey. Rice goes on to show that the duty to disobey an unjust law that would compel you to violate the Divine Law does not confer a general right to pick and choose what laws you will obey. The third chapter describes the “main event,” which is the bout to determine whether the United States will conform its law and culture to the homosexual (LGBTQ) lifestyle in all its respects. “The main event is well underway and LGBTQ is well ahead on points.” Professor Rice follows with a clear analysis of the 2013 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Part II presents some “underlying causes” of the accelerating persecution of the Catholic Church. The four chapter headings in this part outline the picture: The Dictatorship of Relativism; Conscience Redefined; The Constitution: Moral Neutrality; and The Constitution: Still Taken Seriously? The answer to the last question, as you might expect, is: No. Part III, the controversial heart of the book, prese nts contraception as “an unacknowledged cause” of persecution. The first chapter argues that contraception is not just a “Catholic issue.” The next chapter describes the “consequences” of contraception and the treatment of women as objects. The third chapter spells out in detail the reality that contraception is a First Commandment issue and that its displacement of God as the ultimate moral authority opened the door for the State to assume that role, bringing on a persecution of the Church. The last chapter, “A Teaching Untaught,” details the admitted failure of the American Catholic bishops to teach Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. But Rice offers hope that the bishops are now getting their act together Part IV offers as a “response” to the persecution of the Church three remedies: Speak the Truth with clarity and charity; Trust God; and, most important, Pray. As the last sentence in the book puts it: “John Paul II wrote in a letter to U.S. bishops in 1993: ‘America needs much prayer – lest it lose its soul.’” This readable and provocative book is abundantly documented with a detailed index of names and subjects.
Davidson, Lawrence Rutgers University Press, 2012 Library of Congress HM1121.D375 2012 | Dewey Decimal 305.8009
Most scholars of genocide focus on mass murder. Lawrence Davidson, by contrast, explores the murder of culture. He suggests that when people have limited knowledge of the culture outside of their own group, they are unable to accurately assess the alleged threat of others around them. Throughout history, dominant populations have often dealt with these fears through mass murder. However, the shock of the Holocaust now deters today’s great powers from the practice of physical genocide. Majority populations, cognizant of outside pressure and knowing that they should not resort to mass murder, have turned instead to cultural genocide as a “second best” politically determined substitute for physical genocide.
In Cultural Genocide, this theory is applied to events in four settings, two events that preceded the Holocaust and two events that followed it: the destruction of American Indians by uninformed settlers who viewed these natives as inferior and were more intent on removing them from the frontier than annihilating them; the attack on the culture of Eastern European Jews living within Russian-controlled areas before the Holocaust; the Israeli attack on Palestinian culture; and the absorption of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China.
In conclusion, Davidson examines the mechanisms that may be used to combat today’s cultural genocide as well as the contemporary social and political forces at work that must be overcome in the process.
Escaping imprisonment in Missouri in 1839, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith quickly settled with family and followers on the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Under Smith’s direction, the small village of Commerce soon mushroomed into the boomtown of Nauvoo, home to 12,000 and more members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For Smith, Nauvoo was the new epicenter of the Mormon universe: the gathering place for Latter-day Saints worldwide; the location of a modern-day Zion; the stage upon which his esoteric teachings, including plural marriage and secret temple ceremonies, played out; and the locus of a theocracy whose legal underpinnings would be condemned by outsiders as an attack on American pluralism.
In Nauvoo, Smith created a proto-utopian society built upon continuing revelation; established a civil government that blurred the lines among executive, legislative, and legal branches; introduced doctrines that promised glimpses of heaven on earth; centralized secular and spiritual authority in fiercely loyal groups of men and women; insulated himself against legal harassment through creative interpretations of Nauvoo’s founding charter; embarked upon a daring run at the U.S. presidency; and pursued a vendetta against dissidents that lead eventually to his violent death in 1844.
The common thread running through the final years of Smith’s tumultuous life, according to prize-winning historian and biographer, Martha Bradley-Evans, is his story of prophethood and persecution. Smith’s repeated battles with the forces of evil–past controversies transformed into mythic narratives of triumphant as well as present skirmishes with courts, politicians, and apostates–informed Smith’s construction of self and chronicle of innocent suffering.
“Joseph found religious and apocalyptic significance in every offense and persecution–actual or imagined,” writes Bradley-Evans, “and wove these slights into his prophet-narrative. Insults became badges of honor, confirmation that his life was playing out on a mythic stage of opposition. By the time Joseph led his people to Illinois, he had lived with the adulation of followers and the vilification of enemies for more than a decade. Joseph’s worst challenges often proved to be his greatest triumphs. He forged devotion through disaster, faith through depression. Joseph interpreted each new event as God’s will set against manifestations of evil opposed to the restoration of all things.”
Bradley-Evan’s ground-breaking portrait of Smith goes farther than any previous biography in explaining the Mormon prophet and the mystery of his appeal.
A History of the Vandals
Torsten Cumberland Jacobsen Westholme Publishing, 2012 Library of Congress D139.J33 2012 | Dewey Decimal 936.00439
The First General History in English of the Germanic People Who Sacked Rome in the Fifth Century AD and Established a Kingdom in North Africa
The fifth century AD was a time of great changes in the Mediterranean world. In the early 400s, the Roman Empire ranged from the lowlands of Scotland to the Upper Nile and from Portugal to the Caucasus. It was almost at its widest extent, and although ruled by two emperors—one in the West and one in the East—it was still a single empire. One hundred years later, Roman control of Western Europe and Western North Africa had been lost. In its place, a number of Germanic kingdoms had been established in these regions, with hundreds of thousands of Germanic and other peoples settling permanently inside the former borders of the Western Roman Empire.
One of the most fascinating of these tribes of late antiquity were the Vandals, who over a period of six hundred years had migrated from the woodland regions of Scandinavia across Europe and ended in the deserts of North Africa. In A History of the Vandals, the first general account in English covering the entire story of the Vandals from their emergence to the end of their kingdom, historian Torsten Cumberland Jacobsen pieces together what we know about the Vandals, sifting fact from fiction. In the middle of the fifth century the Vandals, who professed Arianism, a form of Christianity considered heretical by the Roman emperor, created the first permanent Germanic successor state in the West and were one of the deciding factors in the downfall of the Western Roman Empire. Later Christian historians described their sack of Rome in 455 and their vehement persecution of Catholics in their kingdom, accounts that were sensationalized and gave birth to the term “vandalism.”
In the mid-sixth century, the Vandals and their North African kingdom were the first target of Byzantine Emperor Justinian’s ambitious plan to reconquer the lost territories of the fallen Western Empire. In less than four months, what had been considered one of the strongest Germanic kingdoms had been defeated by a small Roman army led by the general Belisarius. Despite later rebellions, this was the end of the Germanic presence in North Africa, and in many ways the end of the Arian heresy of Christianity. For the Romans it was the incredibly successful start of the reconquest of the lost lands of the Western Empire.
Often overshadowed by the persecution of Jews in Germany, the treatment of Jews in fascist Italy comes into sharp focus in this volume by Italian historian Michele Sarfatti. Using thorough and careful statistical evidence to document how the Italian social climate changed from relatively just to irredeemably prejudicial, Sarfatti begins with a history of Italian Jews in the decades before fascism—when Jews were fully integrated into Italian national life—and provides a deft and comprehensive history from fascism’s rise in 1922 to its defeat in 1945.
In 1942, two years after invading France, the Germans implemented their policy of exterminating the Jews. In contrast to Jews in many parts of German-occupied Europe, however, the majority of Jews in France survived, thanks to opposition to the Nazi extermination policy from Church dignitaries and the moral indignation of the average Frenchmen. Seeking to maintain popular support, the Vichy Regime bargained with the Germans over the substance and extent of its collaboration, which the Germans needed in order to hold France.
Translated from the German and drawing on German and French sources, Wolfgang Seibel traces the twisted process of political decision-making that shaped the fate of the Jews in German-occupied France during World War II. By analyzing the German-French negotiations, he reveals the underlying logic as well as the actual course of the bargaining process as both the Vichy Regime and the Germans sought a stable relationship. Yet that relationship was continually reshaped by the progress of the war, Germany’s deteriorating prospects, France’s economic and geopolitical position, and the Vichy government’s quest for domestic political support. The Jews’ suffering intensified when the Germans had the upper hand; but when the French felt empowered, the Vichy Regime stopped collaborating in the completion of the “final solution.” Persecution and Rescue: The Politics of the “Final Solution” in France, 1940–1944 demonstrates the ways in which political circumstances can mitigate—or foster—mass crime.
The essays collected in Persecution and the Art of Writing all deal with one problem—the relation between philosophy and politics. Here, Strauss sets forth the thesis that many philosophers, especially political philosophers, have reacted to the threat of persecution by disguising their most controversial and heterodox ideas.
This important study surveys recent Dutch research into persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands during World War II, addressing the political, public, and private responses to National Socialism and the aftermath of the Final Solution. The authors discuss a wide range of issues, including the role of the Dutch state apparatus in the success of the persecution; popular perception of the Jews in Dutch culture of the time; a comparison of the treatment of Jews in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France; and the regime in charge of the Dutch transit to concentration camps. With contributions from eminent historians of the Holocaust, this book draws on personal accounts and diaries to analyze the response among the Dutch population to the escalating persecution of the Dutch Jewish community, effectively contrasting the perspectives of the victims, the perpetrators, and the bystanders.
The theater of early modern England was a disastrous affair. The scant record of its performance demonstrates as much, for what we tend to remember today of the Shakespearean stage and its history are landmark moments of dissolution: the burning down of the Globe, the forced closure of playhouses during outbreaks of the plague, and the abolition of the theater by its Cromwellian opponents.
Persecution, Plague, and Fire is a study of these catastrophes and the theory of performance they convey. Ellen MacKay argues that the various disasters that afflicted the English theater during its golden age were no accident but the promised end of a practice built on disappearance and erasure—a kind of fatal performance that left nothing behind but its self-effacing poetics. Bringing together dramatic theory, performance studies, and theatrical, religious, and cultural history, MacKay reveals the period’s radical take on the history and the future of the stage to show just how critical the relation was between early modern English theater and its public.
As the news shows us every day, contemporary American culture and politics are rife with people who demonize their enemies by projecting their own failings and flaws onto them. But this is no recent development. Rather, as John Corrigan argues here, it’s an expression of a trauma endemic to America’s history, particularly involving our long domestic record of religious conflict and violence.
Religious Intolerance, America, and the World spans from Christian colonists’ intolerance of Native Americans and the role of religion in the new republic’s foreign-policy crises to Cold War witch hunts and the persecution complexes that entangle Christians and Muslims today. Corrigan reveals how US churches and institutions have continuously campaigned against intolerance overseas even as they’ve abetted or performed it at home. This selective condemnation of intolerance, he shows, created a legacy of foreign policy interventions promoting religious freedom and human rights that was not reflected within America’s own borders. This timely, captivating book forces America to confront its claims of exceptionalism based on religious liberty—and perhaps begin to break the grotesque cycle of projection and oppression.
Signs, Cures, & Witchery provides a fascinating glimpse of some little-known Appalachian beliefs and practices among descendants of early German pioneers. Signs, Cures and Witchery opens a window into our ancient past, revealing the courage and resourcefulness of people whose survival depended on their ability to "read signs," cure their own ills, and find explanations for life's mysteries. Local community practices in West Virginia such as witch doctoring, "belsnickling," "shanghai," and folk healing are connected to their medieval counterparts in woodcuts and other works of art. In tracing immigration to remote mountain communities, we learn how expressions of folk art and folk belief survive. This work specifically examines aspects of Appalachian oral tradition and folklore that draw from German culture. Informative and entertaining, Signs, Cures, and Witchery is an invaluable aid to all who have an interest in religion, psychology, folklore, metaphysical, regional, gender, and ethnic studies.
Gerald C. Milnes is the folk arts coordinator of the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis and Elkins College. He is the editor of Granny Will Your Dog Bite and Other Mountain Rhymes and author of Play a Fiddle: Traditional Music, Dance, and Folklore in West Virginia.
From 1894 to 1924 three waves of violence swept across Anatolia, targeting the region’s Christian minorities. Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi’s impeccably researched account is the first to show that the three were actually part of a single, continuing, and intentional effort to wipe out Anatolia’s Christian population and create a pure Muslim nation.