Julian vs. Anti-Semitism and the Bullying of History

Yesterday we considered how Julian’s teachings are contrary to bullying, which puts control before wonder and domination before co-operation and power-over before compassion or power-with.  

“It [is] sad that many Americans feel threatened by immigrants, refugees, women, and others who believe differently. But it is even sadder when our purported “leaders” use this tactic to gain followers.” Poster by outtacontext on Flickr

We have spoken of politics and bullying (cf. January 6 events), economics and bullying, relationships and bullying, academia and bullying. 

Bullying is everywhere because patriarchy is everywhere.  History is full of bullying. 

Bullies are very often the product of having been bullied as children. Dominance operated upon them when they were in a state of vulnerability when young.

Consider the long and vicious history of anti-semitism in the form of pogroms, slanderous teachings, hatred, scapegoating, projecting, ghetto-making (the first ghetto was declared in a papal bull in 1555), and, ultimately, the holocaust. 

Is there any event more thoroughly an act of institutional bullying than the holocaust?  The herding of Jewish people into ghettos and then box cars and then concentration camps and then ovens? 

“Peter the Hermit Preaching the First Crusade,” during which Christian mobs murdered roughly 12,000 Jews in the Rhenish valleys alone between May-July 1096. Painting by James Archer in Wikimedia Commons

Roman Catholic feminist theologian Rosemary Ruether, in her book Faith and Fratricide: Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism, lays out many instances of Christian theologians over the centuries who were anti-semitic–beginning with the gospels themselves. 

I ask this: Is anti-semitism part of matricide as well?  Is that one reason it is so fierce and keeps returning in a patriarchal culture? 

Judaism may be more a mother to Christianity than a brother.  Jesus was a Jew; the apostles and gospel writers were Jews; and many of his disciples and early Christians (not all) and two-thirds of the Christian Bible is the Hebrew Bible.  Insofar as matricide reigns in our culture, then to that extent anti-semitism finds a home there also.

14th-century French woodcut showing a Jew poisoning a well to cause the Black Death. Graphic conversion by Karenett at Hebrew Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Ruether makes the point that fratricide is often the deepest occasion of the worst hostility (Freud had something to say about that) and since the first Christians were Jews, Jews and Christians are siblings and fratricide often reigned.  Hopefully the second Vatican Council put an end to that.

This is where Julian’s attacks on bullying and on matricide offers hope for the future and medicine for the past.  The fact that she shows not one iota of anti-semitism at a time when Jews were being blamed for the plague so fiercely that many abandoned England for the continent, tells us something about what Julian’s contribution to history might have been, had she been read and listened to.

Julian offers a complete broadside on patriarchy and bullying. 

The Visitation of Mary with her cousin St. Elizabeth, with Jesus and St. John shown in utero. Altar tapestry detail, c. 1410; Museum of Applied Art Frankfurt, Germany; Wikimedia Commons

The double blow that Julian delivers to patriarchy is to insist on the motherhood of God and on the non-dualism of God and nature, God and humans, body and soul, sensuality and spirituality.

With dualism comes bullying.  Patriarchy thrives on dualism like a vampire thrives on blood.

No wonder Julian was effectively ignored until the late twentieth century—her deconstructing of patriarchy did not fit with the empire-building agendas of slavery, colonialism, genocide, anti-semitism, and hatred of Mother Earth that we call matricide and has been driving western “civilization” since at least 1492.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 121-124. 

And Matthew Fox, The Pope’s War: How Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved, p. xxx.

Banner Image: Confiscated shoes of the murdered victims of Auschwitz. Photo by Tina T-Spoon on Flickr

Do you think anti-Semitism among Christians can be understood as a bad relationship with the Christian Mother, Judaism?  How best to heal that relationship?

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved

The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic Christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.”   — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II

Upcoming Events

Matthew Fox offers pioneering teachings from Hildegard of Bingen at 1 pm Pacific (GMT/UTC-8) on February 2, as one of more than 40 thought-leaders at the free online Mystics Summit running February 1-5. Learn more and Register HERE.
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1 thought on “Julian vs. Anti-Semitism and the Bullying of History”

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    Please send Matthew Fox’s Daily Meditations to my mindspring.com e-mail account.
    For some reason they have been going to my gmail account which I do not check often.

    thank you — Rafael J. González

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