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Nazi Christianities

Nazi Christianities

By Kate Dailey-Baley, Religion Bulletin….
In my two previous Bulletin posts, I discussed the efforts of prominent Nazi intellectuals(such as Gerhard Kittel and Alfred Rosenberg)who, during the 1930s, worked to buttress the German Reich through the appropriation of Christian symbols, images, and narratives. It is worth noting that Rosenberg and Kittel offered competing presentations of a Nazi Jesus and a Nazi Christianity, each of which was intended to unify the German churches and people. For Kittel, this meant the wholesale separation of Judaism and Christianity in hopes of persuading fellow Nazis that the Christian narrative was ideologically compatible with larger Nazi social projects. For Rosenberg, it meant reclaiming the image of Jesus as an Aryan warrior-chief in the age-old battle against Judaism. This present post looks at yet another attempted Nazi Christianity, so-called “Positive Christianity” in the discourse of the NSDAP (The National Socialist German Worker’s Party).

Recovering Catholic Ethos and Practice

Recovering Catholic Ethos and Practice

By Kate Daley Bailey….
My family’s religious affiliation is best described as ‘recovering Catholic.’ While we often say this in jest, I find it compelling that although we may be disillusioned with the papal abuses, restrictive doctrines on women in the priesthood, birth control methods, and various other concerns, my family members who have broken with the church still often identify as Catholic. I think of my Catholicism like some Jews describe their Judaism. Judaism is often described as a religion and a culture… and while many people associate Judaism with the purely religious aspects, Jews who no longer practice the religious prescriptions of their religion may still identify as Jewish. My family often gravitates toward other Catholics, recovering or those still within the Church. We might be done with the Catholic Church but we refuse to give up Catholicism.

The “Business” of Being Christian: The Ethics of Usury

The “Business” of Being Christian: The Ethics of Usury

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
For thousands of years, the Christian Church has identified “usury” as a sin… however various theologians and scholars living within these thousands of years disagreed over exactly what “usury” was and was not. A brief exploration of the term “usury” (and its multiple manifestations) may lead us to a better understanding of what was actually being prohibited by various religious communities, especially Christian ones.

The Sacred and the Strange: Occupying the Tea Party Rhetoric?

The Sacred and the Strange: Occupying the Tea Party Rhetoric?

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
“American Nazis support the Occupy Wall Street Movement?” This headline ripped through the conservative news outlets like wildfire. Christmas came early for Fox News. My curiosity was peaked… I am a fence sitter regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement… primarily because I refuse to join a movement which will not outline its agenda and even then I am leery. I have to know specifically what and who I am protesting. My fence-sitting is engendered by my recent research into how the Nazis gained power in Germany and were backed surprisingly by many high standing church leaders, scholars, and much of the German population. You can imagine my surprise when I read the above headlines. Was this yet another example of propaganda generated by the Fox News-types of the American media to damn the liberals of the Occupy movement? Yes… but it was also something more for me.

The Curious Case of Gerhard Kittel

The Curious Case of Gerhard Kittel

By Kate Daley-Bailey, Religion Bulletin….
On June 1st, 1933, New Testament Professor and Christian theologian, Dr. Gerhard Kittel (picture to the left) delivered a speech entitled Die Judenfrage, “The Jewish Question,” which was later published in a 78 page booklet. In Die Judenfrage, Kittel advocated that German Jews be demoted to “guest status” in Germany, a position which was attacked by more right-leaning Nazi groups insisting upon forced exile or worse. In reaching his conclusion, Kittel considered three other potential answers to the Jewish question commonly debated at the time: extermination (which he dismissed as impractical and, in later editions, “un-Christian”), a separate Jewish state in the Middle East (which he declined for various logistical reasons, such as hostilities from displaced Arabs), and assimilation (which he argued was actually part of the problem, since mixed marriages between Jews and Christians in Germany resulted in the spread of secular liberalism in Germany).

The Sacred and the Strange: An Aryan Jesus?

The Sacred and the Strange: An Aryan Jesus?

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
Alfred Rosenberg, sometimes referred to as ‘the philosopher of the Nazi party,’ was instrumental in the ideological construction of what might be called a Germanic Aryan ethic. Rosenberg, an ardent anti-Semite, anti-Bolshevik, and anti-Catholic, presented the Nazi establishment with a disparate and staccato ‘history of the Aryan’ in his book, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual, which was used to philosophically support Nazi doctrines on race and religion. While Nazi German elite often held a great disdain for Christianity, condemning it as a flawed ideology not compatible with the regime’s political and social aims, they were not, initially, opposed to using Christian theories about Jesus to promote their own cause. Rosenberg is no exception. In his most prominent book, second only to Mein Kampf in Nazi circles, Rosenberg presents a rather unusual, and ahistorical, view of Jesus of Nazareth.

Hitler’s Mythographer

Hitler’s Mythographer

By Kate Daley-Bailey, Religion Bulletin….
Goring, Goebbels, Hitler, Himmler, Hess, and… Rosenberg? The first five men listed here might easily be recognized as the architects of the infamous Third Reich, whose atrocities still haunt European history. Rosenberg, however, is less well known. Alfred Rosenberg was an early supporter of the National Socialist German Workers Party, became the editor of Volkischer Beobachter, the official party newspaper, and was appointed by Hitler as the temporary head of the Nazi Party while Hitler was in prison. Once the party came to power, Rosenberg, despite his lack of charisma, was appointed to the foreign policy office and later became the minister for conquered eastern territories. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Rosenberg’s work on behalf of the regime was his extensive ideological production. Often referred to as Hitler’s theoretician or Hitler’s philosopher, Rosenberg codified much of the anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, and anti-Communist rhetoric which Hitler used to legitimize his political agenda. Rosenberg’s most significant text, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual, was revered, at least superficially, by the Reich as second only toMein Kampf as embodying the mythical and ideological frame for Hitler’s Germany.

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part II

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part II

By Kate Daley Bailey….
Harry Potter as Coded text? Not only does Rowling incorporate many overt references to the history and legends surrounding alchemy, she often employs the very methods of communication which noted alchemists used. Alchemists often employed symbols, animal images, anagrams, and various word games/codes in order to keep their finding secrets and safe. While Rowling is not facing the Inquisitors or angry monarchs, her use of codes (anagrams (i.e. Tom Marvolo Riddle/ I am Lord Voldemort) and backwards writing (the Mirror of Erised/Desire) are very compelling to her audience. The most readily identifiable mythic animal associated with alchemy is the Phoenix. The phoenix, the iconic ‘fire bird,’ embodies the ultimate symbol of death and rebirth. It also represents spiritual transformation. This mythical bird plays a defining role in the Harry Potter series, especially the first few books. Harry is particularly troubled when Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, grows very old and bursts into flame before his very eyes. He is even more perplexed when from the ashes a small baby phoenix is born.

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part I

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part I

By Kate Daley Bailey….
Ever wondered where J. K. Rowling got inspiration for her magical world of the Harry Potter series? Did you know that Nicholas Flamel was a real man and famed alchemist, who according to mystical lore had created the illusive Philosopher’s/ Sorcerer’s Stone? Alchemy, the ancient mystical practice of trying to turn crude metals into gold, while seemingly fantastic to modern people, was the precursor to Enlightenment Sciences and various forms of Christian mysticism. Not purely an entrepreneurial venture, alchemy was not only viewed as a path to fame and wealth but also a spiritual practice grounded in religious symbolism. Some modern readers view Rowling’s alchemical leanings as advocating witchcraft and thereby denounce the series as promoting what they see as an anti-Christian agenda. Ironically, much of the alchemical history, which Rowling utilizes, is linked to Christian mysticism.

History of Religious Studies as a Discipline

History of Religious Studies as a Discipline

By Kate Daley Bailey….
Every religious studies major has been caught in the precarious situation of having to answer the “are you going to a preacher” questions from well-meaning peripheral family members and other semi-invested adults. Upon telling someone that you are majoring in, studying, teaching, researching, etc. religious studies, you are usually met with a plethora of confused facial expressions. When you try to explain that the academic study of religion requires a historical and critical approach to world religions as social forces in the world and does not require belief (or disbelief) in any religious system, the previous expressions of confusion turn to judgmental looks and usually include an awkward silence.

Mary Magdalene and Female Authority in the Early Church

Mary Magdalene and Female Authority in the Early Church

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
Abraham’s article awoke anew many concerns I have had with the Catholic Church’s’ ardent fear of the possibility of allowing women into positions of authority in the church. As Abraham so astutely pointed out, the linking of female ordination and sexual abuse of children is startling. Is the Catholic Church launching a preemptive strike against what they fear will be a renewed interest in allowing women into the priesthood? This overreaction led me to investigate the origin of the Church’s fear of women in leadership roles.

The Apple: From the Judgment of Paris to the Twilight Series

The Apple: From the Judgment of Paris to the Twilight Series

Today, the apple, although not specifically mentioned in Genesis, is believed by many to be the ‘forbidden fruit’ from the mythic Garden of Eden. The image of Eve’s eating and presenting Adam with an apple was introduced during the Renaissance period as many Renaissance artists incorporated Greek mythological imagery into their biblical works of art. The golden apples of immortality from the Garden of Hesperides or the apple from the Judgment of Paris were, most probably, the apple myths that Renaissance artists embraced, reimagined, and incorporated into Old Testament narratives.

The World Ended: Didn't You Get the Memo?: AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Allegorical Zombie, Part II

The World Ended: Didn’t You Get the Memo?: AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Allegorical Zombie, Part II

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
Kate Daley Bailey continues her exploration of AMC’s The Walking Dead, “the latest embodiment of the apocalyptic zombie phenomena in American popular culture.” In Part I of The World Ended: Didn’t You Get the Memo?, Kate explored rapid globalization, economic anxiety, cultural and religious pluralism, and moral relativism. In Part II, Kate explores the American zombie phenomena as symbolic of the realities of physical decay, mortality, and the ethics of war.

The World Ended: Didn't You Get the Memo?: AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Allegorical Zombie, Part I

The World Ended: Didn’t You Get the Memo?: AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Allegorical Zombie, Part I

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
To my pleasant surprise, the series appears to be driven by character development, and, while still maintaining a decent amount of gore, highlights many social and moral concerns. While not explicitly stated, the series continues to investigate key issues which dominate the Postmodern American cultural consciousness such as: rapid globalization and economic anxiety, cultural and religious pluralism, moral relativism, the brutal reality of physical decay and mortality, and the ethics of war.