The Future Jew
I just finished reading "The Future Jew" by Michael Carin. It is an angry book, possibly the angriest book I have ever read. It asks:
"Where was God during the Holocaust?"
A few extracts from the book:
The greatest wonder of the Bible is not that educated people of the present day regard it as literal truth (although that is a prodigious, inscrutable wonder). No, the greatest wonder is that people of the twenty-first century still regard the lead figure in the Old Testament, namely the Lord, as an ideal to be worshipped and emulated. Before accepting Him as a model, people ought to audit his integrity. Start with Genesis, chapters six and seven. God abruptly repents that He has created the people of the earth. Apparently almost everybody alive has become wicked and evil, corrupt and violent. God even grieves over the fact that He has made beasts and creeping things and the fowls of the air. So what does God do? At a stage when the story of humanity has barely begun God sees fit to drown his creation. "And the rain was upon the earth for forty days and forty nights."
Again and again, the issue must be raised, the question unblinkingly asked: where was God during the Holocaust? With the answers they provide, the apologists for the Almighty prove that the pen can be as much an instrument for obfuscation as of explanation. The rationales of theologians tend to distract and befog. The might admit that on the surface of things the Jews of Europe enjoyed no earthly redemption, but then they embark on tangents.
The answer to rabbis: Your skilful pardon of God may stand up in a printed sermon or in the arena of pristine debate, but it falls into abysmal mud once it enters the library of the Holocaust. Open a few of the memoirs and you're soon wading in a slime made up of smashed babies and mutilated grandmothers. You tell us that we misunderstand the nature of God? We ask you to try moving beyond ethereal constructions and rarefied theories. Show us something substantial. Bring us one single phenomenon that's tangible. Give us one single event or deed that won't vanish faster than ancient scrolls and Jewish children in the inferno of a torched synagogue.
In answer to all the apologists for a blind, inert, lazy, absent or tardy Grand Designer, someone ought to write a book called The Failures of God. But the book will never be written and can barely be conceived. No army of scribes could lay siege to such a project. If God exists, so immense has been his dereliction that legions of researchers and generations of scribes would be defeated by this project.
Carin's prescription is that Jews embrace secular humanism as a fundamental element of Jewish culture. And the mission of secular humanist Jews should be to ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten, to ensure that such an event never occurs again to any group of people, and to make a point of commemorating the Holocaust every year.
While the book is primarily aimed at Jews, particularly secular Jews and those doubting their faith, there is much in it for everyone. It is worthwhile reading, particularly the first half, though the latter part is primarily of interest to jews. If not in your local library or bookstore, the book and more information is available at The Future Jew.
As to commemoration, I don't think that it should be the sole responsibility of the Jews to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust. All of us should make a point of remembering mankind's history of genocide. In my own lifetime, not only has there been the final months of the Holocaust, but there have been mass deaths due to variously to race, religion, culture or class in China, Tibet, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Iraq to name a few. Perhaps not all meet the technical definition of genocide, but the difference is meaningless to the tens of millions who are dead as a result. January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, has been added to our calendar as Victims of Genocide day.
- The Future Jew by Michael Carin, MRW Press, Montreal 2001
- The Future Jew - p. 23
- The Future Jew - p. 71
- The Future Jew - p. 72
- The Future Jew - p. 77