Irving Kristol's God

From the March 2015 Print Edition

Having long been regarded as the godfather of neoconservatism, Irving Kristol is well known for his political writings. Less well known are his essays on religion. And yet, the more one reads of his work, the more apparent it becomes that this is in some sense the wrong way around. Though Kristol was no theologian, matters of religion, morality, and meaning underpin his entire political worldview. This, however, forces a question, and not one without some controversy: If religion was so central to the thought of Irving Kristol, then is this equally the case regarding the political persuasion with which he is so intimately associated? Does neoconservatism actually have some deeply religious roots? This is the question I found myself asking after reading Kristol’s Jewish essays, now conveniently gathered as an e-book and published by Mosaic magazine.Kristol’s first Jewish essays were penned in the late 1940s, while he was serving as managing editor at Commentary. His work from that period appears tortured by an effort to make sense of the Holocaust, ­Nazism, and anti-Semitism. The most striking result of this labor was an essay titled “The Myth of the Supra-Human Jew: The Theological Stigma.” In it we find Kristol wrestling with the contrasting currents, philo-semitic and anti-Semitic, that intermingled in Christianity and Western culture. He interprets hostility to the Jews as originally bound up with guilt about the erotic. The effort to rid the world of Jews, he concludes, was also an effort to free man from oppressive biblical prohibitions, so as “to have men’s secret lusts dance unrestrainedly under the open sky.” Continue Reading »

Europe’s Euthanasia Craze

From Web Exclusives

The case of Frank Van Den Bleeken—the Belgian murderer and rapist who requested to be euthanized rather than spend life in prison—has provoked its fair share of comment. And rightly so, the facts of this case are undoubtedly shocking. But far more shocking is the rapidly growing euthanasia culture that made this whole affair possible. This increasing normalization of euthanasia is just one of many social trends that reveals a Europe that is becoming profoundly estranged from its Judeo-Christian heritage. As that happens, European societies are losing the moral and spiritual armory with which to resist the gradual slide into a complacent nihilism Continue Reading »

Britain’s Baby Burning

From Web Exclusives

The British public is currently being scandalized by the revelations that hospitals there have been incinerating the remains of aborted infants as clinical waste, in some cases doing so to generate electricity for hospitals. Even in that country which has so steadfastly refused to have the abortion . . . . Continue Reading »

Jews and the Persecution of Christians

From Web Exclusives

In a  recent interview regarding America, Israel, and the wider Middle East, Malcolm Hoenlein, the long-serving head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, spoke out unequivocally against the persecution of Christians around the world and the West’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Marc Chagall’s Jewish Crucifixions

From Web Exclusives

What are a series of paintings featuring the crucifixion doing on show at New York’s Jewish Museum? After all—as the museum’s senior curator acknowledges—some constituents may find such a display rather transgressive. Yet, the answer is that these paintings are by a Jewish artist, and perhaps one of the most remarkably Jewish artists at that, Marc Chagall. . . . Continue Reading »