Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

faith, politics, Virtues

Antisemitism As Spiritual Evil

Barbed wire on burning candle and Israel flag on black background with space for text. Holocaust memory day

Antisemitism as spiritual evil

“Prejudice means racism,” my friend insisted, reacting to my remark that we’re all prejudiced. About something, maybe many things.

“No. It doesn’t. Think about the word itself: prejudge. It implies an opinion based not on fact or experience but “prejudgment,” closemindedness.

Since her look was skeptical, I’m not sure I ever persuaded my friend that prejudice has a far broader meaning than the increasingly narrow defintion imposed by “Influencers.” In our post modern cultures, meaning is entirely subjective and objective truths merely constructs of the powerful. On the face of it, postmodernism is absurd. And yet, it’s captivated the  academic intellectual elite for the last few decades. Making Dostoyevsky’s prophetic words: Without God, anything is possible, define these darkening days of the twenty-first century.

Having just finished my latest novel, Plausible Liars, I’ve been immersed in words: their power to affect our opinions and if we’re open, change our minds. Sometimes in life-changing ways for the better, or worse.

Just so, the Greek philosphers use of logos or word had profound implications for humanity. For Plato, logos was “The True.” And for us Christians truth is Christ: The Word.

All of which gets us back to antisemitism, to Jewishness: antisemitism as spiritual evil. These aren’t my words but those of journalist Andrew Doran. Upon listening to an intriguing interview between Philos Catholic’s Robert Nicholson and Andrew Doran on the US and the middle east, I’ve been thinking about prejudice, racism and antisemitism. The differences among these words. Doran is correct to distinguish antisemitism from its neighbors.


First, some background.

Daughters of Abraham.

A few years after I converted to Catholicism, I was leading a discussion on praying the psalms: the Liturgy of the Hours.  

Most likely prompted by my statement that the psalms reflect all human emotion, someone there said something like, “But these are Jewish prayers, we’re Catholics.” Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, (her name,) “Jesus was a Jew, you know that, right?”

I and everyone else in the room knew she had not. Looking back, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to speak with her privately instead of humiliating her in front of thirty of her friends. But back then, each time I spoke with other Catholics, I was convinced they knew far more than I.

It took a few more years for me to understand the gift of midlife conversion and my need to ingest as much as I could about this faith that I’m convinced has saved my life.

Leaping into something like Roman Catholicism after years of dedicated animosity to all things religious requires supernatural grace. Not infrequently, with Catholic and Christian friends who have been lifelong believers, I get corrected when I attempt to divorce myself from them by making myself a worse sinner than they.

And yet there are some distinct differences between converts and cradle Catholics. Like my friend Almita has said repeatedly, “We grew up in it, Lin. You chose it.”

Yes. And no.

In a very real sense, Catholicism chose me. But I digress.

Maybe my love of the Old Testament came along with that supernatural grace of conversion. But even back during the years I believed myself an atheist, my sense of Jews as brothers and sister as family was real. Recently, I wrote of my sense about the Jewish people. An affection-respect- for Jews and Judiasm I’ve had since childhood.

Abraham as father?

Last Wednesday in our Christian liturgy, we read this from Genesis:

“Fear not, Abram!
I am your shield;
I will make your reward very great.”

But Abram said,
“O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be,
if I keep on being childless
and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?”
Abram continued,
“See, you have given me no offspring,
and so one of my servants will be my heir…

Then the word of the LORD came to him:
“No, that one shall not be your heir;
your own issue shall be your heir.”
He took him outside and said:
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him,
“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession…It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: “To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.””

God chose the Jews. It was the Jews whom He sent the prophets to. They were commissioned by God to teach the rest of us. Therefore ranking antisemitism as just another example of humanity’s malevolence toward one other isn’t enough. In a very real sense, if we deny the Jews as uniquely beloved by God, then we deny the Word of God.

Reconnecting Catholics and the biblical roots of Catholicism is the primary goal of Philos Catholic:

We have a vision for a pluralistic Near East based on freedom and the rule of law, where nations, tribes, and religious communities can live beside each other as neighbors.

To get there, we don’t pick sides or settle for easy answers. We develop relationships, explore difficult questions, and work to build a movement of principled, practical Christian engagement.

Andrew Doran plans to launch a “Coalition of Catholics Against Antisemitism,” this fall. 

Madonna of the Holocaust Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS

God of Our Fathers, let the ashes of the children incinerated in Auschwitz, the rivers of blood spilled at Babbi Yar or Majdanek, be a warning to mankind that hatred is destructive, violence is contagious, while man has an unlimited capacity to cruelty. 

Almighty God, fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares . . . nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” 

Post Tags :
philos catholic, prejudice, racism

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

Latest Sunday Reflections

Scroll to Top