Based on Niklas Luhmann’s argument, religion may be viewed as any communication governed by the distinction between immanence and transcendence. While some societies dispose of a religious foundation, others reject a presupposition of their unity with other societies that accounts for meaningful intersocietal communications. These presuppositions, despite the certainty with which they are held, are difficult to describe and can hardly be discarded with cultural discourse. This essay explores the notion of cultural trauma and its relation to religious identity. It first explains the concept of collective identity and how it differs from individual identity. It then turns to a discussion of triumphant heroism and the revolutionary origin of the demos. It also examines the liminality of the tragically failing hero, along with the collective identity and liminality of victims in contrast to that of heroes and perpetrators. The essay concludes with a discussion of the contemporary shift from triumphant to traumatic foundations of collective memory, as reflected in rituals and monuments.
Melissa M. Wilcox
This article deals with the issues of gender and sexuality in millennial movements. Patriarchy pervades across the spectrum, varieties range from reversal of normative gender based divisions of labor, to anti-abortion drives, to a renouncement of the original sin (sexual intercourse) and others. Convinced at a gross degeneration of the divinely ordained ways, various strains proposed practice of “free love”. Differential interpretations of scriptures evoke different responses to the same elements. While raising a woman to the level of a messiah, generating obedience from men and women alike, and throwing a protectionist cordon around the woman, may seem overtly empowering, with the woman shrouded in false consciousness, becoming party to the abetment of patriarchy. This article sites an instance of white and colored racial supremacists, two extremes of the same spectrum, having in common the same patriarchal subjective notion of women and their role.
Other groups — for example, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, and Slavs — were swept up in the maelstrom of the Holocaust, but not for the same reasons as Jews and not with the same consequences. This article shows that despite the absence of guidelines in the ideological writings of the top Nazi leadership, the Nazi regime raised popular German resentments and prejudices toward these groups to the level of policy, thus denying millions of human beings their elemental rights, often even their lives. In none of these cases, however, was the target group considered dangerous or coherent enough to warrant complete or immediate extirpation. This circumstance constitutes a significant difference from policies pursued toward the Jews, a difference that helps to clarify and define the Holocaust itself.
Millennialism is a prime philosophical resource pool for the American extreme right. The racial factor being central to the rightist affair and three basic tendencies nourish it: Christian identity, based on legacies of the dilapidated British-Israelism that claims that the lost tribes of Israel migrated westwards; staunch anti-Semitism, non-supernatural racist religions, secular in their fervency against both Christianity and Judaism; and Neopaganism, a revivalist motion, striving to revive ancient Nordic religions through reconstruction. These three pivotal elements cut across the American rightist-racist diaspora. Objective practices range from militarization in anticipation of apocalyptic conflicts with non-whites, purging efforts, the establishment of alternative churches that preach white supremacy and anti-Semitism, to more obviously nefarious things. William Pierce, author of the notorious Turner Diaries, established the Cosmotheist Church, believing in a postmillennial phase of quiteism, a process to achieve fulfillment by merging with God. The pre-millennial evolutionary occurrences include social purging of non-whites.
Sexuality is a domain of experience that has been variously described as embodied, deeply personal, intimate, ecstatic, and even sacred. Yet, precisely because of some of these qualities and the emotions associated with them, it is also a domain that entails not only pleasure but also the possibility of violation, even terror. It is a ground on which wars are fought (including intrapsychic, familial, social, political, and military). This chapter explores multiple aspects and causes of sexual violence, in particular interrogating the saying from the rape crisis movement: ‘Rape is about power, not sex’. Additional statements will be proposed, including ‘Rape is about power, and sex’; ‘Rape is about power, using sex’; and ‘Rape is about power, gender, and race’. The chapter concludes with an ethic of sexual justice that addresses the ethics of sexuality and of power, drawing on a Trinitarian theology that emphasizes relationality and abundant life.
Lenore J. Weitzman
This article focuses on the experiences of Jewish women during the Holocaust and compares their predicaments with those of Jewish men. It highlights three topics: the initial responses of Jewish men and women to Nazi persecution, which reflected the traditional roles women played before World War II and therefore prioritized women's responsibilities as mothers, wives, and daughters; the Nazi policies and rules that treated men and women differently and created distinctive constraints and options for women; and the effect of specific problems in the ghettos and camps on women's coping strategies. The analysis gives special attention to the fraught topic of the incidence of rape of Jewish women during the Holocaust.