Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 1 and the 6 Glass Pyramids

Sunday May 1, 2011 was Holocaust Remembrance Day, so I’m late in acknowledging the day but I wanted to say something. The Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, with its striking architecture that symbolically echoes this horror, is an amazing, though somber place. It's just north of 12 mile road on Orchard Lake road. The symbolism of the architecture is haunting. I went in to get more information about it this evening and learned that it was designed by Joel Smith. The following link explains the construction of the building and has several pictures; I highly recommend reading it. The main parts that draw my attention are the windowless walls that are strung with barbed wire, the tower that both watches over you and has a shape that resembles a crematorium chimney, the gray and faded blue stripes that evoke prison uniforms and the 6 elongated glass pyramids that stand as reminders to the 6 million Jews who died.
I had visited the center about 10 years ago when it was located at a rather nondescript building adjacent to the Jewish Community Center, several miles away from this site. Its new location and building serves its goals much better. I have visited the Holocaust center in Washington D.C. as well and can only say that the one in Farmington Hills is also very good. It’s a hard thing to compare, but an even harder thing to ignore.

Unfortunately, the Holocaust has deep roots in Luther's Baggage, for the Nazi regime drew upon Luther's anti-Semitic statements to bolster their own claims.  Here is a short quote from a wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_and_antisemitism

"The prevailing view among historians is that [Luther’s] anti-Jewish rhetoric contributed significantly to the development of antisemitism in Germany, and in the 1930s and 1940s provided an ideal foundation for the National Socialists' attacks on Jews. Reinhold Lewin writes that "whoever wrote against the Jews for whatever reason believed he had the right to justify himself by triumphantly referring to Luther." According to Michael, just about every anti-Jewish book printed in the Third Reich contained references to and quotations from Luther. Diarmaid MacCulloch argues that Luther's 1543 pamphlet On the Jews and Their Lies was a "blueprint" for the Kristallnacht. Shortly after the Kristallnacht, Bishop Martin Sasse, a leading Protestant churchman, published a compendium of Martin Luther's writings ; Sasse "applauded the burning of the synagogues" and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, "On November 10, 1938, on Luther's birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany." The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words "of the greatest anti-Semite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews." In 1940, Heinrich Himmler wrote admiringly of Luther's writings and sermons on the Jews. The city of Nuremberg presented a first edition of On the Jews and their Lies to Julius Streicher, editor of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, on his birthday in 1937; the newspaper described it as the most radically antisemitic tract ever published. It was publicly exhibited in a glass case at the Nuremberg rallies and quoted in a 54-page explanation of the Aryan Law by Dr. E.H. Schulz and Dr. R. Frercks. On December 17, 1941, seven Lutheran regional church confederations issued a statement agreeing with the policy of forcing Jews to wear the yellow badge, "since after his bitter experience Luther had [strongly] suggested preventive measures against the Jews and their expulsion from German territory."
On a more positive note of things to come, I am in the process of reading Rob Bell’s book: Love Wins and I am greatly impressed with it. I know that it has become controversial, often by people who haven't read it yet! Such reactions remind me of encounters that Jesus had with critics who had a similar agenda. Rob is in good company! I’m also preparing for my iMovie debut of the “spring” and fall feasts. Finally, I’m hoping to elaborate on Deuteronomy’s retelling of the Sinai story. It provides a slightly different take on the “Beauty and the Beast” encounter that I wrote about in my last post. 

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