Wednesday, April 7, 2010

When Your Faith Tells You to Convert


The following is absolutely PROFOUND section from the book How (not) to Speak of God, by Peter Rollins. The questions this story and passage bring about keep haunting and convicting me.


The story within the movie goes something like this:

"The film itself explores the failure of the Catholic-Protestant Churches when confronted with the terror of the death camps during the second world war. The two main characters are s Protestant youth pastor and a Catholic priest, who both try to inform their religious leaders about the pending holocaust.
The priest is the character that most interested Peter Rollins. At one point, the priest wonders out loud to the Cardinal whether it would be possible for ever Christian in Germany to convert to judaism in order to stop the horror. His thinking is that the Nazis couldn't possibly condemned such a huge number of powerful and socially integrated people at that stage of the war. The idea is, of course, utterly rejected.
The priest believes so strongly in his thought that he himself turns from what he loves and becomes a Jew. By taking on the Jewish identity he suffers with the persecuted, voluntarily taking his place on the trains that run to Aushwitz.
For this priest, the singularity of the horror required an unprecedented action, one which cut at the heart of his tradition. It was his very tradition (or rather the interpretation of his tradition) that demanded he should give up that tradition. This is a studding exploration in the face of unprecedented horror, For most Christians, the question, "Would you die for your beliefs?" In other words, would you be prepared to give up your religious tradition in order to affirm that tradition? Can you give up the very thing you would die to protect, not because of something even more powerful, but rather because of another's suffering?
The most powerful way to affirm his Christianity is to lay it down- symbolized by the incongruous image in which he remains in his cassock while wearing the star of David. Here, the beliefs and practices which have served him daily are placed into question by the terror that faces him and the demands for a response. Amidst the fires of the Jewish persecution his Christian beliefs are subverted by the belief that Christ gave up all for the powerless. And so the priest gave up his Christianity precisely in order to retain his Christianity. It is the very narrative that he loves which requires this exodus narrative-losing his soul while perhaps, unintentionally, finding it. " -Peter Rollins

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