Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Popes Against the Jews - by David I. Kertzer

Kertzer's book The Popes Against the Jewsdocumented the Vatican's role in the rise of modern European antisemitism. Kertzer documented (through the Vatican's own archives) that the Catholic church systematically oppressed the Jews through the same means as Hitler's Third Reich, only short of mass extermination. Walled ghettos, compulsory yellow identification badges, accusations of ritual murder and vampirism, blame for all social ills, and racial execution - all originated with the Papal states and were continued by Rome through the 19th century and even into the early 20th century.

Kertzer's main point is that the Vatican's 1998 document claiming the church was not complicit in antisemitism is more of a cover-up than a willingness to come to terms with the church's actual behavior.

Well researched. Well written.

Whew! Glad to have my Holocaust reading out of the way for 2006!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Five People You Meet In Heaven - by Mitch Albom

I really liked Tuesdays with Morrie. So I assumed I'd like Mitch Albom's book The Five People You Meet in Heaven. But I didn't. I wonder how many other people made the same assumption.

But now that I look at it, the assumption seems silly. Tuesdays was a personal experience documentary based on real interviews. The 5 Peoplewas just a weird little novella.

I'm pretty open-minded. So the fact that the afterlife theology is totally wrong is the least of the things that bothered me. It just seemed so scattered and random.

So, are the five people I meet in heaven the same sort that our hero met? - a person I accidentally killed, a person who saved my life, somebody telling me stuff about my dad, my one true love, and a person I couldn't save? Or are the five people the ones who teach me that all life is interconnected, that life is about deterministic sacrifice, that we have to forgive, something else, and bla bla bla?

And then he has to sit around and wait to be somebody's next person (so maybe it should be the six people you meet in heaven).

I don't feel that this book was as earth-shattering (or even as mildly interesting) as the hype about it should indicate.