So the other day I went to Saint Paul’sfor this lecture by Peter Kreeft entitled “The meaning of life in Judaism, Christianity and Islam”.  It was on a Friday evening so I did not expect to see many Jews there.   Good guess!  In fact, the first person who I recognized was Philip Belgrave, the Holocaust denier from Sandy Hill.  Not a good omen.   He generally goes places to support extremist positions.

I did find someone to sit with.  Richard from my Hebrew class was there wih his parents and I joined them in the fourth or fifth row.  The auditorium was packed.  After I came in, they had to find extra chairs they placed on the floor around the speaker’s dais.

I had come because someone at Rose’s work had recommended the lecture to me because they knew I was interested in spiritual issues.   Well, the lecture was a bit of a bust that way.   Kreeft had almost nothing to say about Judaism and spent almost the entire time promoting stronger links between traditional Catholics and traditional Muslims. 

He wanted to see a more “muscular” Christianity.   He said Christians should learn from the traditional Muslims and the Orthodox Jews because they were “tough” and they were having children, “instead of killing them before they are born”.

Surprisingly, most of his audience was hostile to any kind of dialogue with Muslims because they saw them as being inspired by the devil.   At one point Kreeft ended up defending the Koran by saying most of it was inspired by Judaism and Christianity but had to admit in the face of these detractors that “perhaps some parts were inspired by the Devil”.

His main purpose seemed to be foster a coalition of traditional Christians, Jews and Muslims to fight secularism and “weak kneed, spineless liberals”.   In his view, they no longer stood for anything (although I used quotes before, I cannot be sure that he used that precise phraseology; that’s just the gist of the message I picked up).

Last week, I went to another lecture, this time sponsored by the “spineless liberals” concerning the Holocaust and reconciliation between Germans and Jews, between perpetrators and victims.   A german woman, whose uncle was in the SS and was in charge of the liquidation of the ghetto in Pinsk, Belarus, spoke eloquently of her attempts to come to terms with what he had done and to find ways of interacting with Jews “with dignity” despite her feelings of horror at what he and many Germans had done.  How was she to accept responsibility without accepting guilt?   I thought her presentation was informed, sensitive and creative.

In response  a Jewish woman whose parents had survived the Holocaust gave her own reaction.  I thought she was going to speak only of her reaction to what had jus been said.  Instead it turned into a long discourse on her perspective on what should be done to perpetrators of this and othe crimes against humanity.   It became like a second speech which I felt was not the purpose of the evening. 

In the end of it all, we have people who are all for forgiveness and reconciliation even when victims and their families are not interested.   Then these so called liberals start to blame the offspring of victims for being vindictive and “incapable of forgiveness.”  They end up siding with the pepetrators and condemning the victims.   This is because the victims themselves did not dwell on their victimhood for the most part but sought ways to live and contribute to the world.  In doing so they have become one of the strong and thus not worthy of sympathy.   Only those who were or are weak can be the objects of our pity and fellow feeling.    If a strong person suffers, “they were asking for it.”

Liberal attitudes to successful and strong people seem to prove the truth of my mother’s attitude to success.  “Don’t be too successful, too wealthy, too healthy, too proud because it will attract the attention of the Devil.”

That is one thing no one ever forgives the Jews, for surviving horible torment and still striving to be their best.

Such words or attitudes never escaped the lips of the German woman but I could not help but feel them in the room.

Now I remember why I stayed away from this stuff for a long time.