The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Greater complexity to ‘honorable’ Moses

Letter to the Editor | Friday, March 30, 2007

After reading the response to “First Down Moses underlies negative attitudes about other religions” by Xavier Lebac (“Moses was an honorable man,” March 29) by Nick Bloom, it seems to me that Bloom did a fantastic job of proving Lebac’s point that perhaps the roots of the Judeo-Christian tradition are not as peaceful and understanding as many claim.

I believe that the stories of conquest and genocide in the Bible are deeply troubling for modern readers. Any narrative in which every man, woman, and child of a population is systematically exterminated, such as the account of the “sacred ban” in Jericho, cannot be anything but disturbing to contemporary readers who have no other knowledge about the Bible. These stories also may seem confusing and contradictory to modern readers who have read the Decalogue, where it clearly states that killing is forbidden.

Still, even with the historical background and knowledge of the authors’ purpose for writing their narratives, the fact that mass killing is praised and glorified appears to be counterintuitive to a just and forgiving God and highly reflective of a “jealous” deity.

In addition, Bloom’s assertion that it would be “incredibly foolish” to assume that any god would condone the worship of other gods is completely misguided and indeed ethnocentric. Primarily his strong doubt that the “god” of Buddhism would condone the worship of Jesus is incredibly ludicrous considering the fact that Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, meaning it does not have a deity. This indictment shows the lack of understanding and ignorance that perpetuates such violent acts “in the name of God.” Also, I can think of several religions including Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and yes – even modern-day Catholicism that do not condemn the worship by other religions. In the Second Vatican Council, it was written that “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in [other] religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men.”

In light of this holy new way of thought, why do we have on the Notre Dame campus a testament to the abolishment of other religions? How can we not draw parallels between the Crusades and modern Islamic Jihad? Those religions that are founded in Old Testament scripture (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) all believe in some form of “just violence.” Our ideals are founded in the same literature of those who attack us. I believe what Lebec was trying to assert was the fact that even though we pride ourselves on being “civilized” and “reasonable,” our religion too at one time has shed innocent blood in the name of the Almighty. Even though the Church has shifted to a new way of thinking (Vatican Two), many are stuck in the dark ages.

Mark Flanagan


Keough Hall