Page 138 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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130
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
It was Christianity that carefully prepared and seeded the
ground on which Europe’s gas chambers and crematoria flour­
ished. The beginnings o f antisemitism are rooted in the men­
dacious New Testament, where the lie o f deicide is forged and
foisted on the inhabitants o f Judea and succeeding generations
o f Jews . . .
The anti-sexuality, anti-life bias at the heart o f Christianity
contained in its terrible unfolding logic the extermination o f six
million human beings. (“Foreward,”
For My Brother Jesus,
1976)
T ransla ted to poetry, Layton’s accusatory charges are sometimes
— as in “For Jesus Christ” — nearly re iterated prose statements:
One pontiff invented the ghetto;
more tender and loving, another commanded
shivering ghosts to wear out its cobblestones
warmed by the yellow Star of David.
until the final stanza where the innocent Jesus is told o f the
crimes committed in his name in a piercing image which links
the related Christian and Nazi symbols, both inescapably im­
plicated as instruments o f torture:
Your stoutest, most selfless partisans in Europe
laboured nearly two thousand years
to twist your Cross into the Swastika
that tore into our flesh like a fish-hook.
In moun ting his critique against Christianity, Layton has scru­
pulously differen tiated the historical Jesus from the Church that
arose in his name, claiming the fo rm e r as fellow-Jew and P roph ­
et, while attribu ting a perverse pathological degeneracy to the
latter. To avoid any ambiguity and, one gathers, to preven t
Christians from seeking com fort in the exemplary hum ane
deeds o f their founde r, he has introduced the term Xians and
Xianity to deno te the barbaric condition o f the Church and its
adherents. T h e poem “Xianity” addresses Jesus as “B ro ther and
fellow-poet” and proceeds to ask “is this that you wanted?” T h e
answer to tha t rhetorical question sums up Layton’s assessment
o f decayed Xianity:
The mutterings of bead-counting hysterics?
The snuffling of joyless misfits and cripples
fearful of death, more fearful of life?
the
misereres
of the doomed dregs