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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World (PBS Sept.2017)

Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World
1h 53m 41s

"The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of one on the most important events in Western civilization: the birth of an idea that continues to shape the life of every American today.

In 1517, power was in the hands of the few, thought was controlled by the chosen, and common people lived lives without hope. On October 31 of that year, a penniless monk named Martin Luther sparked the revolution that would change everything.

He had no army. In fact, he preached nonviolence so powerfully that — 400 years later — Michael King would change his name to Martin Luther King to show solidarity with the original movement.

image from -

This movement, the Protestant Reformation, changed Western culture at its core, sparking the drive toward individualism, freedom of religion, women's rights, separation of church and state, and even free public education. Without the Reformation, there would have been no pilgrims, no Puritans, and no America in the way we know it. 

The film follows the dramatic story of Martin Luther's life: the massive lightning storm that nearly killed him, the bleak self-punishment of his time in the monastery, the corruption that unleashed his anger, his trial before the most powerful man in Europe, and the staged kidnapping that helped him escape the death penalty. 

This is a highly-visual documentary with elaborate full-scale dramatizations that were filmed in the castles, monasteries and cobblestone streets of eastern Europe. Dozens of historians from Europe and the Americas were interviewed, with a careful eye to ensure all sides of the story are represented. The film is narrated by Hugh Bonneville ("Downton Abbey") and stars Padraic Delany ("The Tudors," "The Man Who Knew Infinity")." -

"Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World"
was produced by Boettcher+Trinklein Inc.

Monday, October 02, 2017

ADOLF - The Vatican Puppet.

Did the Catholic Church help German Nazism? A look at the record.
The Vatican’s definitive statement, “We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust,”  claims that Nazism was the antithesis of the Catholic church:
[Excerpt from “We Remember” starts here]
At the level of theological reflection we cannot ignore the fact that not a few in the Nazi Party not only showed aversion to the idea of divine Providence at work in human affairs, but gave proof of a definite hatred directed at God himself. Logically, such an attitude also led to a rejection of Christianity and a desire to see the Church destroyed or at least subjected to the interests of the Nazi state.
It was this extreme ideology which became the basis of the measures taken first to drive the Jews from their homes and then to exterminate them. The Shoah was the work of a thoroughly modern neo-pagan regime. Its anti-semitism had its roots outside of Christianity and, in pursuing its aims, it did not hesitate to oppose the Church and persecute her members also.
[My emphasis – J.I.]
– Published online at
[Excerpt from “We Remember” ends here]

Just as, according to “We Remember,” the extermination of European Jews was an extreme manifestation of anti-Catholicism (!), so, according to the Vatican statement, leading German clerics fought Nazi antisemitism. Case in point: Bavarian Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber. (The Vatican statement’s praise for von Faulhaber is quoted and refuted later in this article.)
Not only does “We Remember” claim that the church fought Nazi antisemitism, but it quotes Pope John Paul II apparently absolving the Catholic hierarchy from responsibility for the belief (one of the foundations of Christianity) in Jewish culpability for the death of Jesus:
“In the Christian world – I do not say on the part of the Church as such – erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament regarding the Jewish people and their alleged culpability have circulated for too long, engendering feelings of hostility towards this people.” 
– Pope John Paul II, quoted in “We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust”  
Reading this remarkable statement, one is compelled to ask: if Christians did not get their belief in Jewish culpability from the Christian church, pray tell where did they get it?
Many people, including some Jewish leaders, have praised Pope John Paul II and “We Remember” for facing up to ‘errors’ made during the Holocaust.
But if the Church never aided, and indeed opposed, the Nazis, and never accepted even non-racial, religion-based hatred of Jews, then to what errors would the Vatican need to face up?
Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, answered this question when he was a top advisor to John Paul II:
“‘Even if the most recent, loathsome experience of the Shoah (Holocaust) was perpetrated in the name of an anti-Christian ideology, which tried to strike the Christian faith at its Abrahamic roots in the people of Israel, it cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this atrocity on the part of Christians can be explained by an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians.’”
[My emphasis – J.I.]
– Joseph Ratzinger as quoted by Abe Foxman in an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) press release welcoming Ratzinger’s election as Pope.
Also quoted on
So Joseph Ratzinger claims that: a) Nazism was “anti-Christian”; b) Christianity erred only by “a certain insufficient resistance” (notice the modifier, “a certain,” which limits the insufficiency - i.e., it wasn’t so very insufficient!) to Nazism, not by complicity or active support; c) even this error resulted from individual Christian’s religious hostility to Judaism – “an inherited anti-Judaismpresent in the hearts of not a few Christians” –  which rather avoids the question: from whom did they inherit it, if not the church?

The evidence shows that:
A) The Catholic church hierarchy, acting under Vatican orders, played the decisive role in making Hitler the dictator of Germany.
B) Subsequently, the Catholic hierarchy was active in Nazi movements outside Germany, for example in the Balkans, where the church was the institutional base of the Nazi puppet State of Croatia.
C) Although at Yad Vashem, in the year 2000, Pope John Paul II described the Nazis as having “a Godless ideology,” in 1933, when it mattered, the Vatican ordered German Catholics to love, honor, obey and protect the Nazis.
During the 1920s, the church-controlled Centre party (Zentrum) did clash with the Nazis. As Hitler wrote (see quote below) their quarrel was over politics, not Catholic religious teachings. The Nazis themselves claimed they were fighting against atheism, specifically Bolshevist atheism, which they depicted as a Jewish-created movement.  In attacking the Jews, the Nazis routinely employed Christian symbolism and traditional Christian antisemitic arguments, with which Europeans were already indoctrinated, making it an easy sale.  
On March 23, 1933, the Nazi government put forward the Enabling act, giving Hitler the authority to create new laws without parliamentary approval, thus making him the dictator of Germany.  This was after the Nazi-staged Reichstag fire; after the banning of the huge Communist party and subsequent arrest and murder of thousands of communists and other anti-Nazis; and amidst a campaign of violent antisemitism. To become law, the Enabling act needed a 2/3 parliamentary vote. Before the vote, Hitler addressed the Reichstag (parliament) saying the Nazis were fighting for Christianity:

“While the Government is determined to carry through the political and moral purging of our public life, it is creating and insuring prerequisites for a truly religious life. The Government sees in both [Catholic and Protestant] Christian confessions the most important factors for the maintenance of our folkdom. It will respect agreements concluded between them and the States. However, it expects that its work will meet with a similar appreciation. The Government will treat all other denominations with equal objective justice. It can never condone, though, that belonging to a certain denomination or to a certain race might be regarded as a license to commit or tolerate crimes. The Government will devote its care to the sincere living together of Church and State.” 
[My emphasis - Jared Israel]
To their credit, the Social Democrats for once took a strong stand, opposing the Enabling act. Hitler needed a 2/3 majority, so the balance lay with Zentrum, the Catholic Centre party. If Zentrum voted no or even abstained, Hitler would have been defeated.
Zentrum leader Monsignor Ludwig Kaas, a close friend and advisor to Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, addressed the Reichstag. Far from attacking the Enabling act and disputing Hitler’s claim that Nazi measures were “prerequisites for a truly religious life,” Kaas endorsed the Enabling act. Zentrum and smaller allied parties voted ‘yes,’ and the act became law.
According to National Catholic Reporter correspondent John Allen, a liberal Catholic and student of Vatican history (he wrote a biography of Joseph Ratzinger), on March 28, 1933, four days after Zentrum voted to make Hitler the dictator of Germany:

[Excerpt from John Allen’s Telegraph article starts here]
“the German bishops rescinded their ban on Nazi party membership. On April 1, Cardinal Adolf Bertram of Breslau addressed German Catholics in a letter, warning them ”to reject as a matter of principle all illegal or subversive activities“. To most Catholics, it looked as if the church wanted a modus vivendi with Hitler. [Yes, I suppose when you vote to make a Nazi maniac dictator of your country it would appear that you want a modus vivendi with said maniac - J.I.]

The same impression [! - J.I.] was created a few weeks later when Hitler held a plebiscite to endorse his decision to pull Germany out of the League of Nations, which received the endorsement of the Catholic press and of several Catholic bishops.”

[Excerpt from John Allen’s Telegraph article ends here]
Three and a half months later, on July 6, 1933, the Catholic church’s Centre party, Zentrum, dissolved itself. 

Two weeks after that, the Vatican and the Nazi government signed their Concordat, putting the official Vatican stamp on the alliance of the German church and the Nazi state. Article 16, reproduced below, required that Catholic bishops swear to honor the Nazi government, to make their subordinates honor it, and to hunt for and prevent action that might endanger it. - Continue Reading.. PLS CLICK HERE.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Myth About Martin Luther: He was Anti-Semitic | Luther, Jews and the Nazis (Uwe Siemon-Netto, PhD)

Uwe Siemon-Netto explains that German Reformer Martin Luther was in no way anti-semitic. Futhermore, Uwe also explains how the Nazis took Luther completely out of context in order to propagate their anti-Jewish campaign. Buy Siemon-Netto's book The Fabricated Luther: Refuting Nazi Connections and Other Modern Myths -

Siemon-Netto, Uwe, The Fabricated Luther: Refuting Nazi Connections and other Modern Myths, 2007, Second Edition. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House. Review by Karla Poewe, Department of Anthropology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta. In a world ripe with propaganda it is refreshing to find a book dissecting a cliché that was used for just such purposes by people as far apart as Josef Goebbels and Alan Dershowitz, namely, that Luther was the “spiritual predecessor of Adolf Hitler” (p. 23). Siemon-Netto’s book traces the origin of the cliché that “linked Luther to Hitler“ back to the liberal theologian Troeltsch who passed it on to the writer Thomas Mann who, in turn, shared it with the author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich William L. Shirer (p.24). From there it was picked up by the Germanophobic propagandist Lord Vansittart as well as by archbishops and priests of the Church of England. It was also popular among America’s Union Theological Seminary faculty in the early thirties and is used by U.S. historians like Robert Michael and Lucy Dawidowicz, among many others, today (p. 23). In fact, those who were primarily responsible for the Holocaust and generally for the brutality on the Eastern Front of World War II were men who had not only left Christianity but were intent on destroying the entire Judeo-Christian tradition because it was unGerman. To show the ludicrous nature of the cliché that blamed the Holocaust on the line of descent from the Protestant Luther, SiemonNetto points out that many perpetrators were born into homes and countries (Austria and Poland, for example) that were formerly or nominally Roman Catholic. He raises this point only, however, to emphasize “the absurdity of the charge that one Christian denomination’s theology paved the way for genocide“ (p. 66). Holocausts were also perpetrated by Turkish Muslims, Orthodox Russians, and Cambodian Buddhists, yet these religions are not linked with their crimes (p.66). At issue is rather the thing that Luther warned against with his “two realms“ doctrine, namely, the danger that comes with blurring state and church or politics and religion. When blurring occurs secular “isms“ are quick to follow. Politicized Christianity, like that of the German Christians, for example, was easily absorbed by the political religion of National Socialism (pp. 74-76). By contrast, Luther’s two realms doctrine “de-ideologizes politics” and “de-idolizes” the state (p.77). Far from confirming a line from Luther to Hitler, Siemon-Netto shows the role that Lutheranism played in the resistance against the Hitler regime. The author is particularly strong in his analysis of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Carl Goerdeler. Bonhoeffer understood “two realms” to refer to the fact that Lutherans live before God and with God in a world without God, that is, in a secular world. He could therefore easily co-operate with secular conspirators to kill Hitler. Bonhoeffer also accepted the teaching “that all who take up the sword will perish by the sword.” He knew it to refer to him and his circle. It is in this spirit too that he could say “I  pray for the defeat of my country, for I think this is the only possibility of paying for all the suffering that my country has caused in the world” (p. 101). According to Siemon-Netto, Goerdeler, the mayor of Leipzig who was executed by the Nazis, was rooted in nineteenth-century Protestant liberalism (p. 111) but he internalized the “ethos and attitude” of Lutheranism (p. 112). As his daughter Marianne Meyer-Krahmer confirmed when Siemon-Netto interviewed her, Goerdeler warned all and sundry against the danger of Hitler. Her father valued and stood up for Leipzig’s Jewish heritage and citizens and saw as clearly as his other close Lutheran colleagues in the resistance that Hitler was determined to destroy three enemies: the Jews first, then the Christians, and finally capitalism (p. 106, 116). It is a sad chapter in human history that brave men like Goerdeler too were defeated by men who could not understand his subtle Lutheran distinctions and the necessity of thinking on two levels. Goerdeler’s sense, on the one hand, that a moral catastrophe had befallen Germany that would be a danger to the world and his political point, on the other, that National Socialism was largely the result of the injustice of Versailles was seen as deception by Vansittart (p. 145). In response, Vansittart soon used a race-based “militarism” cliché that fired the hate of the British for a war that could possibly have been averted in 1938 had Goerdeler’s plan of action been debated in British parliament (p. 120, 126, 130). Instead, revenge against and punishment of the Germans lasted until 1949 and beyond (p. 136, 142), and it came from the top: the Roosevelts (p. 134-139), Vansittart (p.126), Churchill (p.128), and the British Bomber Command (p.129).But Luther was vindicated. Luther’s “two realms” doctrine as it was applied in the German Democratic Republic, which German humor says was neither German, nor Democratic, nor a Republic, was one of the most powerful tools to defeat the Stalin made dictatorship peacefully. The two realms doctrine simply enabled the Christian “to be guided by natural reason while operating in the secular realm without losing his citizenship in the spiritual realm” (p.173). More than vindicating Luther, it shows how Germany’s resistance of the Nazi regime, the core of it based on Lutheranism, might have toppled Hitler’s government given time and external moral support. That did not happen, and so Siemon-Netto, a son of the city of Leipzig, tells how the “anti-Nazi Confessing Church, having learned from the past, carried on as a brotherhood within the Landeskirche” after the Second World War, supplying the church with “the theological ammunition in its dealing with the Communist state” (p161). Its theologians compared Christianity and Marxism-Leninism and concluded, “Marxism-Leninism is an anti-Christian doctrine of salvation” (p.161). With precisely this knowledge, the churches opened their doors to the secular world, Christians listened to their secular compatriots, and together they started candlelight marches that attracted overwhelming numbers of people.Perhaps because Siemon-Netto is both a journalist and a theologian, he has produced a unique book that shows theology affect politics and indeed bring down a state without, as Lutherans are so careful to emphasize, mixing religion and politics into an unwholesome brew. Montgomery’s book (1970) was an earlier attempt to defend Martin Luther. But when he briefly visited East Germany it was still frozen in totalitarianism. Montgomery, therefore, cleared the political rubbish from Luther’s core beliefs about salvation and the two realms dogma and like Siemon-Netto also shows how a person whose heart is imbued with the Gospel uses his reason in the secular world to keep human beings from destroying themselves (Montgomery 1970: 138).Another book that complements Siemon-Netto’s effort to make explicit the meaning of the two kingdoms in a world gone awry is that of Rasmussen (2005) about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Rasmussen shows the development of Bonhoeffer’s theology in relationship to the resistance against Hitler’s national socialist system. To Bonhoeffer, the two realms became also the inevitable condition of having to live at two levels: appearing to be with the government while actively working to bring it down. Bonhoeffer’s thinking about living with God and before God but in a secular world where he had to work with communists and military men to assassinate a tyrant, was no longer as sharply dichotomous as SiemonNetto’s insistence on the absolute distinction between the two realms. But even Siemon-Netto’s concern not to brew politics and religion together received a peculiar twist in the situation of the demise of East German communism. The people who were selected to be the negotiators for unification were precisely “servants of the spiritual realm,” so that pastors became government ministers, members of parliament at all levels, county executives, and mayors. They stepped into the worldly realm because it lacked personalities that were untarnished by the previous government and yet capable of maintaining the secular order during a time of transition (Siemon-Netto 2007: 155).But why did the resisters of Hitler’s Germany end up as mere martyrs? Rasmussen sees the inevitability of their failure in their ethically based rejection to use methods similar to those of the Nazis. But as Siemon-Netto makes abundantly clear, they failed because the Allies who, from the beginning of war, had invested all in Germany’s total defeat and unconditional surrender were simply unwilling to contemplate anything else. By contrast, the GDR had the outside support it needed. More importantly, the support came unexpectedly from Gorbachev of the Soviet Union just as it came expectedly from Kohl of the Federal Republic. What is more, the three leaders who first negotiated the Unification Treaty, namely, Kohl, Gorbachev, and Lothar de Mazière (who headed the new East German Government in 1990) were Christian. De Mazière was born into a devout Protestant family descended from genteel Huguenot exiles from France. Gorbachev, who met Pope John Paul II in 1989, has confessed openly that he is Christian.For anyone who wants to understand the relevance of Luther’s two realms belief in recent history, The Fabricated Luther deserves a place on your shelf. Indeed, I know of no other book that combines so naturally and effectively theology and Realpolitik, without politicizing the former or sacralizing the latter. Finally, the book has the virtue of being easy to read.Bibliography Montgomery, John Warwick 1970 In Defense of Martin Luther. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern Publishing House.Rasmussen, Larry L. 2005 Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Reality and Resistance, 2005, Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.

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