Welcome James Carroll, Website, and Host Phil Munger (“EdwardTeller”), ProgressiveAlaska

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World

Phil Munger, Host:

As a young man, James Carroll had an epiphany deep in the diggings of an archeological excavation under Old Jerusalem. He had become a Catholic priest. In his activities there and in Bethlehem, he had failed to grow close to any sense of wonder over his physical closeness to events related to the life and death of Jesus. He had witnessed squabbling between and amongst clerics, often over petty issues. He was becoming less illuminated, more disenchanted every day. He acquired an elderly Dominican priest, who was also a renowned scholar and archeologist, as a guide. At first the man frustrated Carroll even more with his banter:

I expected him to rescue my devotion, but to my surprise he was dismissive of every holy place he took me to – up the Mount of Olives, down to the pool of Bethesda, across to the Garden of Gethsemane, along the Via Dolorosa. Everywhere, the same curt demythologizing: “They say…who knows…the legend is…” To him there were no certitudes in the tradition, and certitudes were what I’d come for.

But when the Dominican priest brought the young man down into the deep excavation, he showed Carroll a craggy gap in a wall, over a rough “stone slab about nine feet long and three feet wide.” The priest said “It is certain that Jesus of Nazareth stepped on this stone, probably with bare feet, when he left the city to die.”

The stone moved me, but so did the priest. I bent, knelt, and touched the stone, touching with my lips what the skin of Jesus had touched.

This was as close to touching God as I had come.

Even though Carroll soon found himself leaving the priesthood, he has never given up his quest of perhaps coming closer to God than kissing a stone walked upon by his Christ. Last week, discussing Carroll’s work with a colleague, my friend told me that An American Requiem, Carroll’s National Book Award-winning “memoir of his relationships with his father, the American military, and the Catholic Church,” had brought my friend closer to his daughter, and to a sense of what God might be.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World is described at the author’s web page like this:

James Carroll’s urgent, masterful Jerusalem, Jerusalem uncovers the ways in which the ancient city became, unlike any other in the world — reaching far into our contemporary lives — an incendiary fantasy of a city.

In Carroll’s provocative reading of the deep past, the Bible’s brutality was a response to the violence that threatened Jerusalem from the start. Tracing the richly intertwined threads of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim history, Carroll illuminates the mounting European fixation on a heavenly Jerusalem as spark of both antisemitism and racist colonial contempt. The holy wars of the Knights Templar burned apocalyptic mayhem into the Western mind. Carroll’s brilliant and original leap is to show how, as Christopher Columbus carried his own Jerusalem-centric world view to the West, America too was powerfully shaped by the dream of the City on the Hill — from Governor Winthrop to Abraham Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson to Ronald Reagan. The nuclear brinksmanship of the 1973 Yom Kippur War helps prove his point: religion and violence fuel each other to this day, with Jerusalem the ground zero of the heat.

Some reviews of Carroll’s history have been dismissive of the author’s reach into the very beginnings of time as we know it – the Big Bang – to begin his story:

In the opening pages of his second chapter, we follow along, bewildered, as Carroll describes “the creation of matter and energy” that “began what we think of as time and space.” What follows is an account of “13 billion years of black holes, antimatter, light, velocity, force fields, liquids, gases, particles, gravity, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, supernovas, nebulae, galaxies, stars and planets.” And then the evolution of human beings from earlier life forms, their taming of fire, the advent of cave painting, the development of agriculture and so on until, finally, we arrive, at long last, at prehistoric Jerusalem (before veering off again into various other topics). That’s when I realized that Carroll hasn’t written a book about a city and its history. He’s written a book about Everything.

I beg to differ with Damon Linker, the author of the above quote. He misunderstands that what Carroll sees as needing fixing is rather huge, and an understanding of large scale events helps in realizing this. In his closing statement to an interview with Grit TV‘s Laura Flanders, Carroll reiterates one of the major themes of Jerusalem, Jerusalem:

This notion [which his book describes in tremendous detail] that destruction is the way to salvation is like a Gulf Stream Current running underneath the ocean of Western Civilization, and the reason we can actually be sure it’s going to come to an end soon, relatively soon, is because of the weapons we’ve given ourselves.

We will, in this current, either destroy ourselves as a species, or we will find a new way to think about violence and what to do about it. There’s no other way. We’re either going to make ourselves extinct, or we’re going to change this ancient habit of mind. And that’s what’s at stake in this war today.

To me, Carroll’s most profound achievement before Jerusalem, Jerusalem was Constantine’s Sword, his book about the history of anti-Semitism in organized Christianity. I happened upon it while doing research for an article on whether or not J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion is anti-Semitic (it is). I ended up finishing Carroll’s influential book before returning it to the library.

In his new book, Carroll hopes to reconcile some vast differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, through a deeper understanding of how the dynamic of violence, whether personal or institutional, has been mitigated through spiritual and religious breakthroughs in the past, and might be further attenuated, if not actually be fixed, through understanding why Jerusalem means what it does to so many.

85 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes James Carroll, Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World”

BevW April 17th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

James, Welcome to the Lake.

Phil, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

dakine01 April 17th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Good afternoon James and welcome to FDL this afternoon. Hey ET!

James, I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me if you do address this in the book but was wondering if, in your opinion, there is any hope at reaching a lasting peace around Jerusalem between the three religions or are they just too closely aligned with the city to see the commonalities rather than the differences?

Reminded of the scene from the movie Kingdom of Heaven where the Orlando Bloom character asks what Jerusalem is worth and the person playing Saladin says “Nothing. And everything.”

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 2

Welcome, dakine01.

Thanks, Bev for giving me the opportunity to look more closely at James Carroll’s newest book. I used up an entire highlighter pen on it, because there’s something arresting, quotable and memorable in almost every paragraph.

Elliott April 17th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Looks like an essential book Mr. Carroll, welcome to the Lake.

Hi ET, so great that you are hosting this discussion.

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Greetings Bev & ET.
Glad to be with you.
Jim

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

In the introductory article, I linked to the author’s recent appearance on Grit TV with Laura Flanders. Another important item on Youtube is James Carroll’s talk at the Harvard Book Store.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Jim,

Your book is so recent, yet so much has happened that has an impact on Jerusalem, and on the views you express regarding turning away from violence, just in the past two months or so. The ongoing revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, for instance, seem to be a turn away from violence, toward what you project as a new route. Do you see these two events as a good sign in that respect?

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Hello dakine01,
Of course, peace in and around Jerusalem is essential – not just for Israelis and Palestinians, but for the region and the world. And yes, it is possible. Negotiations may be stalled, but they are within sight of an agreement. My book suggests that Jerusaelm, in addition to being the cockpit of violence, has long been a center of peace. That, too, operates here.
JC

john in sacramento April 17th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Good timing, today’s Palm Sunday

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

ET,

The Arab revolutions suggest a large turning point. Yes, there are dangers, but there are major signs of hope. The non-violoence and democratic spirit of demonstrators is key here. Not least, many Western prejudices about Arabs and Muslims are being rebutted.

Jim

dakine01 April 17th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Jim, I’m pretty sure that I recall hearing proposals in the past to have Jerusalem as an “International” city, presumably under the auspices of the UN.

Would this be possible as a final alternative, possibly with all three religions as part of a governing council?

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Aloha, Phil and James…!

James, How much of a problem do you forsee from all the Israeli tunneling under Al Aqasa…?

April 17th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 8

It certainly is the center of a Whole Lot of Stuff.
I’m so delighted to see you here this afternoon. I saw you speak at All Saints several weeks ago. Monday evening’s talk was right after the president gave a speech about Libya. You were pretty fired up that night!
My question for you is this: Do you see a parallel between Jerusalem and DC as both cities being seen as shining cities on hills; seats of (expected) justice?
I found the politics in your talks especially compelling.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 10

many Western prejudices about Arabs and Muslims are being rebutted

Indeed they seem to be. In your book you describe the rejection of the printing press by the Ottomans during the time between their conquest of Jerusalem (1517) and the time of Napoleon – who brought a press with Arabic typesets with him on the Egypt expedition – as pivotal in keeping that empire from developing a middle class along western European lines. These young kids in Cairo and Tunis (and Manama) tweet and text and blog with the best of us here in the USA and all over the world. Have they succeeded in using social media in ways we haven’t yet grasped?

dakine01 April 17th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 8

As a technical note, there’s a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing “Reply” will pre-fill the comment number and commenter name being replied to and makes it easier for everyone to follow the “conversation”

Note: Some browsers do not like to let the Reply work correctly if it is pressed after a page refresh until after the page completes loading

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 15

thanks, dakine01.

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

dakine01

Various proposals have been floated for an “international,” Jerusalem – dating back to the post-1967 period. In negotiations between Olmert & Abbas last year, there were discussions of multiple custodians over the “sacred basin” (involving the holy sites). Clearly issues of sovereignty over the old city are key to a resolution.

CT,
Archeology is always political in the Old City, and disputes over tunneling and digging are part of the present impasse. In the long run, they will not determine outcomes.

Jim

SouthernDragon April 17th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Welcome to the Lake, Mr Carroll

ET, tech note – the quote from Mr Carroll’s site is repeated

A most welcome and timely subject. Just ordered the book. Back to lurking.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to SouthernDragon @ 18

It’s a helluva read.

Bev’s going to have to fix the repeater.

PeasantParty April 17th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

James,

I’m very interested in the archeological finds and wonder if you experienced where one religion would not release or make note of finds supporting the other religions? I do think the Vatican holds many pieces of evidence both for Islam and Judism. I think the same is true for Christianity in those.

BevW April 17th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 19

Got it.

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Demi,
Nice to greet you. And thanks for the welcome at All Saints. The parallels between Washington and Jerusalem are striking, beginning with Father Abraham. As you know, the Temple of Jerusalem is regarded to have been sited where Abraham was prevented by God from sacrificing his son Isaac. In DC, Abraham Lincoln sits in a Temple, presiding over the memorials to all the sacrificed young of American wars (from Arlington behind him to the various war memorials before him). In Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I show how currents attached to the ancient city flow on below the surface of “City on a Hill” exceptionalism. The Civil War represents a turning point in that story (with, for example, its Battle Hymn text taken from Revelation’s vision of ruined Jerusalem). Salvation through destruction – a key motif, alas, of both cities. But also one which both cities resist, in their ideal.

Jim

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 17

Clearly issues of sovereignty over the old city are key to a resolution.

With even more Settlements having just been approved by the GoI, isn’t that ‘sovereignity’ almost becoming a moot point… Especially, having seen what was proposed by Bibi as the ‘future’ site for the Palestinian ‘Capital’ which is miles outside of the ‘Old City’…?

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Peasant Party,
You have me there. I am certainly aware of inter-religious competition, but I don’t know how archeology does or does not play into that. Perhaps you can enlighten me.
Jim

April 17th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 22

Plus, both “temples” ask the citizens for sacrifice(s). As if that could make a person closer to God.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:43 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 22

Speaking of “sacrifice,” you happen to be the first author I’ve detected who has used Modris Eksteins’ “Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age” in a sweeping, highly topical way. I just assigned it as reading to a student about five weeks ago.

To the rest of us – this book takes Igor Stravinsky’s 1913 ballet as a departure point from the pre-WWI era, and rude pre-awakening to the horrors of 20th century war.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:50 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 26

And along these same lines, Jim’s notes – placed at the end of the book – are almost as good a read as the body of the book itself. By placing them after the book’s own narrative, he keeps the flow going.

Jim,

In Constantine’s Sword, you spend time discussing the Roman emperor Julian’s attempt to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 361-363. Is there a reason you left that out of this book? Maybe I missed it…

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

CT,
Settlements are an obstacle to peace, as are dispossession of Palestinians, for example in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. That’s why firm opposition to settlements and other pressures on Palestinian areas is important. But I think it is a mistake to regard such issues as “moot.” A negotiated resolution will not be defined by the existing situation. There will be give on both sides. A basic rule of negotiation.
Jim

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 28

Do you really expect an Israeli politician to “give” anything significant and have his or her administration survive the internal political backlash?

SouthernDragon April 17th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 26

Just had to make me buy another damn book, didn’t ya. *g*

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

ET,
As you know, the “apostate” Julian’s attempt to rebuild the Temple aimed to discredit Christianity by undercutting the claim that the permanent destruction of the Temple proved the truth of Church doctrine. You are right to know that I could have taken it up in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, a key episode. For reasons of space, I suppose, I didn’t. But I appreciate your understanding its importance—even to this day. (And you can see Julian’s course of stones in the Western Wall to this day.)
Jim

April 17th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Mr. Carroll – about this statement:

Salvation through destruction – a key motif, alas, of both cities. But also one which both cities resist, in their ideal.

That’s really a Western Christian idea. While it may be helpful to a Western readership, my question is do you provide the alternative psychological views of Jerusalem?

I say that because I view the “problem” of Jerusalem as a psychological one; it depends on which cultural (including religious) viewpoint one has been taught, or learned.

Phoenix Woman April 17th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Hello, Jim! Thanks for coming.

You may be interested to know that the members of Gorillas Guides have been providing FDL readers with introductory lessons in Islam. Here’s this week’s lesson.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 20

There is also a split among Israeli archeologists, particularly regarding evidence tied to the possible small size of Jerusalem around the times of Kings David and Solomon, with Israel Finkelstein at Tel Aviv University coming under fire from his more fundamentalist or doctrinaire colleagues.

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 28

I used the word moot because the ‘facts on the ground’ basically have no Palestinians living in the ‘Old City’, and, what Palestinians that still reside in EJ are being systematically harassed, walled in, legally barred from building, ad nauseum…! As Bibi continues to dither, more walls, checkpoints and Settlements are erected…! 8-(

Scarecrow April 17th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Jim — how did we get from Reagan’s City on the Hill to the Tea-GOP of today? Do our current politics still make sense in the terms you describe in Jerusalem, Jerusalem?

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 31

And you can see Julian’s course of stones in the Western Wall to this day.

Wow! I didn’t know that. I’ll try to find them if I go there. My Wasilla friend Sarah Palin needs a better tour guide, eh?

Along that line, you take Michael Oren’s thesis in Power, Faith and Fantasy on American first rank politicians and Israel onto a very responsible course, and I hope he appreciates that. I can’t find a reference to him having praised your book, which he should. Have you heard from the ambassador?

PeasantParty April 17th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 34

Yes, Edward. Plus, the ruins and such are still claimed by all three religions. I know that Christianity is not so much in this fight as Islam and Judism, but the Holy Temple Mount, and the Wall that Orthodox Jews still pray to/at are hot beds of contempt.

I’ve noticed quite a few finds in archeology have been no-no’ed by strict Jewish leaders when they have an Islamic or Christian tie. I’m not Jewish and do not wish to offend any Jews or Orthodox members, but from my perspective it seems they have pushed the borders of their 1960′s State boundaries.

I could be wrong, I am an American and therefore do not get the REAL NEWS on a timely basis.

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

ET,
God knows the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are a lesson in futility —but my firm expectation that they remain the only way forward (including real concessions on both sides) is rooted is the conviction that the status quo serves the interest of neither party. I know that many see it otherwise. But the Arab revolutions only reinforce the point. And polls still suggest that majorities of Israelis and Palestinians will accept a negotiated solution. The question is what will break the current impasse. Change in the Arab world is one point of pressure. President Obama could be another.
Jim

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 39

Obama is utterly useless in that regard…! Btw, what do you think the Palestinians should ‘concede’ to break the impasse…?

hackworth1 April 17th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

President Obama could be another

What do you think Obama can or might do? Any indications from past behavior?

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Kelly,
You make an important point about the Western character of the apocalyptic view I describe, and Jerusalem has been key to that (the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse a key). But the apocalyptic mind seems to operate across culture (Think of the Sarin gas attack in Tokyo in 1995 by the apocalypse-minded Aum Shinrikyt). I believe it is is rooted in the human effort to make sense of massive violence, but then a flip occurs, with massive violence taken (perversely) to be a source of meaning.
Jim

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to hackworth1 @ 41

*heh* Another $3 Billion+ for a 90 day ‘freeze’…? ;-)

AitchD April 17th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Hi James. Maybe 5% of the public read books. Do you have any plans to make this into a film?

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 39

polls still suggest that majorities of Israelis and Palestinians will accept a negotiated solution.

Some do, others show hardening of attitudes among Israelis, even among the young, which surprises me. I suppose the very high birth rates among the ultra Orthodox play a part in that.

I’ve collaborated with Max Blumenthal, whose video, Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem, was so shocking, it was removed from YouTube. It has been put back up here, though. Max might be a good person for you to follow in regard to the currents and trends of the so-called peace process.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 42

And Jim writes about that very well in the book.

One of the frustrating currents in the reviews I’ve read of Jerusalem, Jerusalem was not only the cluelessness reviewers had about your going back to the singular beginning of time as we know it, but some of their lack of understanding or callousness toward your hope for a new vision of what religion might do, by striving to think outside the box, so to say.

I agree with CTuttle that the peace process is probably dead, especially in light of the sped up Israeli building programs being unveiled or unmasked week after week, and the revelations brought out in Al Jazeera’s Palestine Papers.

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

CT and Hackworth,
Regarding Obama, I take a clue about his potential influence, for example, from the Jerusalem-based writer Bernard Avishai who argues, as I read him, that a firmly pressed international consensus (including the EU,the US, the Arab League, but also Russia, China, India, etc) supporting major movement between Israel and Palestine and promising new levels of support for resolution could be decisive. And no one is in a better position to advance that consensus than Obama. He knows very well what is at stake, and how the conflict stands – for both sides. There is little point in belaboring past disappointments. It is a mistake to write Obama off – in this instance, as in others.

As for concessions: I believe that, at bottom, no peace is possible until Israelis openly reckon with their role in the past and present suffering of Palestinians, and until Palestinians clearly acknowledge the ancient Jewish roots of Israel as the Hebrew homeland.

April 17th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 42

You make my point; it is actually John’s Book of Revelations more than Jerusalem itself that sets up apocalyptic conditions in Western people’s minds.

And isn’t it so that the point of apocryphal literature is to impose the condition of meaning upon meaningless deaths?

I don’t say this to be merely argumentative; I point it out that it’s always used as a psychological excuse when lives are lost.

When humans are able to make “sacrifices” that don’t involve lives of others lost, and make some sort of headway in civilization or even in realpolitik, those achievements are less celebrated than ones conditioned upon “sacrifice” which include human life.

That’s the psychological condition I’m talking about.

PeasantParty April 17th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 48

Halleleujah! Agreed. Also, John’s Revelation is a New Testament or Christian doctrine, not so much a Jewish one.

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 46

Some newsworthy articles from today alone…

Netanyahu to Address Congress; Concessions Feared…

Lieberman tells settlement critics to do ‘soul searching’…

Israel Warned not to Enable PA State Now…

I just don’t see the political will to resolve the current status quo impasse…! 8-(

AitchD April 17th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 48

And isn’t it so that the point of apocryphal literature is to impose the condition of meaning upon meaningless deaths?

Do you mean ‘apocalyptic literature’ where you have “apocryphal”?

April 17th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to AitchD @ 51

No, there’s a difference between “apocalypse” and apocryphal literature.

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 48

Kelly,
I agree. And you are right to lift up the idea of sacrifice – its doubleness. “Blood” sacrifice is at issue. And of course that is not only a primitive phenomenon. It is at work to this day in our quick readiness to go to war. Back to Abraham. Back to religious categories. This is one reason why I insist on expressly religious reform as having importance for the broad human future.
Jim

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 47

Bibi does recognize the fact that he does face a potential ‘diplomatic tsunami’ over Paletine, but, he still has the US veto in his backpocket for any UN Sec Council recognition of a Palestinian ‘Homeland’…! I just don’t see an abstention, at the very least by Susan Rice, et al…! 8-(

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

This is one reason why I insist on expressly religious reform as having importance for the broad human future.

Who do you regard as the leading exponent of such reform in each of the three Abrahamic faiths?

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 50

CT,
Your point about the missing political will makes my point. Which is why I and others who care about this question insistently call upon Obama to exert leadership here. To declare the peace process dead, and to write off any hope of positive change simply plays into the hands of the nay-sayers. Keep the positive pressure on. The negative pressure needs no help.
Jim

hackworth1 April 17th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 45

Lot of hostility there. Were any young Israeli’s interviewed that were sympathetic to the Palestinians?

BevW April 17th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Jim, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and Jerusalem.

ET, Thank you very much for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Jim’s website and book

ET’s website

Thanks all,
Have a great week!

April 17th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 53

Concur as regards religious reform as solution. But that is a giant “ask” as far as the religious are concerned.

I maintain the problem is a psychological one as regards solution in the ME. The big deal, is that the psychologies remained arrayed in opposition to each other as to what a “win” is, because frankly, that’s what is required here.

Frankly I think if the Christian West would just shut up and bow out, the “cousins” (as I think of the Jews and the Muslims) could come to an agreement. They have far more in common than what the Christian West interjects as far as support for the Israeli State.

But that’s as likely to happen as the Apocalypse.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to hackworth1 @ 57

Max works with lots of them, but the point of the video was to shock Americans with the degree of racism portrayed by these kids toward Palestinians and toward Obama, at the time of his Cairo speech.

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 55

ET,
I take encouragement, for example, from the writing of the Muslim scholar Reza Aslan. (No god But God). I recommend the work on sacrifice of the Jewish thinker Jon Levenson and the Christian Kevin Madigan (they co-author “Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews”).
Jim

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 56

O’bummer and our AIPAC co-opted Congress gives me little hope…! I’m an ardent supporter of BDS, Free Gaza, etc… And still retain hope for a viable resolution, but, the daily onslaught of bad news leaves me with much diminished hopes…! 8-(

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 3:57 pm
In response to BevW @ 58

Thanks, Bev.

Jim, you are welcome to stay and answer any remaining questions, if you have the time. One of your predecessors at the fdl book salon, John Dean, stayed until the next morning, but most have a lot to do. Good luck with this important book, its sales and influence.

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 61

All three are excellent examples. I’ll stay and provide html links to some of their work.

James Carroll April 17th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

And may I thank you all for your thoughtful posts. And ET, I am honored that you hosted this session. And read my book so carefully. Thank you.
Peace,
Jim

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 4:01 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 65

Mahalo, James, for being here today and your books…! *g*

CTuttle April 17th, 2011 at 4:04 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 64

Mahalo, ET, for hosting this excellent Book Salon…! *g*

Elliott April 17th, 2011 at 4:04 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 65

Thank you so much, both of you. fascinating discussion. (ET’s the man!)

and thanks Bev!

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Muslim scholar Reza Aslan.

No god But God by Reza Aslan

The work on sacrifice of the Jewish thinker Jon D. Levenson

Christian Kevin J. Madigan

Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews by Prof. Kevin J. Madigan and Professor Jon D. Levenson

April 17th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Thanks, Phillip. Great Salon today. Big Hug!

EdwardTeller April 17th, 2011 at 4:11 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 65

Thanks, Jim.

And thanks to everyone for staying on topic. Tough questions, earnest answers.

TarheelDem April 17th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I am very sorry I missed James Carroll today. The only book of his that I have read is The House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power. It is a very important book for understanding how we got stuck in the military-industrial complex. Recommended.

He has a very personal style of how he approaches the subject, and yet captures a lot of the history. From the discussion, it seems that he has brought this same style to Jerusalem, Jerusalem.

If you have not yet, read The House of War, do read it and read it soon.

earlofhuntingdon April 17th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I regret having missed this marvelous discussion. My introduction to the history of Christianity, Judaism and Islam began with Constantine’s Sword and John Dominic Crossan’s books on the historical Jesus. Both writers are former priests. Both are attempting, I believe, to reconcile faith with rational inquiry through history, literary analysis (textual criticism), and science (archaeology, psychology, the sociology of peasant and village life). I see them as wanting to strip myth from fact, to free faith from abuse, not to strip faith from the faithful.

Critics like Damon Linker or the letter writer who said to Crossan, “If Hell were not already created, it should be invented just for you”, are to me defending a worldview based on faith and mystery alone. We haven’t successfully lived in a world defined by only those two realms before or since we left the trees, though critics would contend the reference itself is blasphemous.

earlofhuntingdon April 17th, 2011 at 5:54 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 22

At least in the biblical tale, God prevented Abraham’s sacrifice. The world of men is not so humble or restrained.

earlofhuntingdon April 17th, 2011 at 5:55 pm
In response to James Carroll @ 28

A basic rule of negotiation not much in evidence when Democratic leaders negotiate with their opponents at home.

earlofhuntingdon April 17th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

“Christianity both admits and subverts the historical Jesus,” Crossan says.

TarheelDem April 17th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I finally got around to reading the entire thread in this excellent discussion.

I had two thoughts to add:

1. A pre-millenial reading of Revelation in the US tends to be associated with pietists, who devalue action to heal suffering in the current world (in the US, dismissing it as “the Social Gospel” and equating it with semi-godless socialism). In pursuit of knowing how close we are to the end times, ardent pre-millennialist will proof-text Revelation against other acts of prophecy in the Bible, such as the prophecy of Daniel. And then they will try to associate one-to-one the events in the Bible with events going on today, an alllegorical reading more than a mythological one. And there is a major cottage industry in this sort of “prophecy” that has grown up in the 20th century–most notable the “Left Behind” series.

2. Apocalyptic Christians seem to read all of Revelation; most skip the letters to the churches and go headlong on into the prophecy. The work deserves a reading on its own terms, in its historical context.

So claims that such-and-such ideas are “Christian” have to be taken skeptically. Often they depart significantly from the Christian texts and represent modern “traditions”.

earlofhuntingdon April 17th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I think the importance of James Carroll’s work on Jerusalem is paralleled by this description of Crossan’s work on the historical Jesus:

The closer one gets to the historical Jesus [or the historical Jerusalem], Crossan says, the more extraordinary Jesus becomes.

“A lot of people in the first century thought Jesus was saying something so important that they were willing to die for it. If people finish with my books and now see why Pilate executed him and why people died for him, then I’ve done my job.”

earlofhuntingdon April 17th, 2011 at 6:45 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 77

Plus you have to distinguish among widely varying emphases within the Christian bible, from the four gospels to militaristic Revelation. Even within the gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke tell the story of Jesus; with the triumphalist John, Jesus has already become the Christ.

April 17th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

This comment bears further exegesis from one who reads the Greek as I do.

The Synoptic Gospels differ from John; indeed that is why there is the term synoptic; “the view of those together”, versus syntagmic or syntactic, where they would be in a sort of “constitutional” agreement.

John is a ridiculous and untrustworthy source IMO. After the fact, by years, and a gentile, has no understanding of contemporary events but is entirely useful as advancing a warlike point of view.

The Gospel of John itself is actually irreconcilable with the other texts, including Luke.

earlofhuntingdon April 17th, 2011 at 8:18 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 80

And yet most read the four together as if they tell the identical story, differing only in the minutiae they relate. Deconstructing such things I think is one of the great values promoted by writers like Carroll and Crossan. It is ironic that both should be ex-priests; unsurprisingly, neither was a Jesuit.

April 17th, 2011 at 8:23 pm

That they’re ex-priests is not ironic, really. The ex- becomes explained.

The Ex-Jesuits are where the really interesting bits are. I almost became one you know. Walking up to the door was quite something. I was halfway there before I knew it.

earlofhuntingdon April 17th, 2011 at 9:32 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 82

We’ll have to exchange those experiences off-line some time. I imagine it might add a little dimension to the idea of mea culpa.

TarheelDem April 18th, 2011 at 5:53 am

It’s amazing the difference between two generations away and three, isn’t it. And how quickly and persistent the pharasaical false piety that Jesus railed against became triumphant and institutionalized within the Church.

TarheelDem April 18th, 2011 at 5:56 am

Or the four stories get conflated into a single canonical narrative. That then absorbs everything in the New Testament up through and including Revelation.

And thousands of years of monastic work was spent trying to extend that narrative in a non-contradictory way across the entier Biblical canon or the day.

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