Cardinal Pell’s statements on Jewish cultural inferiority and Genesis-as-myth create a storm – because on these things, Pell is correct.
Cardinal George Pell, not my favorite person all all (linkefest below), raised quite a few hackles with comments on the recent Q&A show (transcript here)- and unusually I can see some merit in those statement, on the allegorical nature of Genesis, and the cultural/intellectual inferiority of Jewish nations compared to others in similar times and geographies.
Of course, I do question his agenda, and have quibbles – this is Pell after all!
Pell labelled Jews "intellectually inferior" – an ambiguous statement, and his apology clarifies (or alters) his statement on TV. His comment about morally inferior is pretty unambigious.
If Pell did mean culturally inferior, the culture intellectually inferior, then he is absolutely correct.
After all, if doing the "What have the Romans ever done for us" sketch from Monty Python, substituting Jews for Romans, what would he have? One item – it is the culture which inflicted Abrahamism on the world … the millenia of wars, crusades, fundamentalists and hate … including George Pell himself.
The over-praised King David et al were nothing but the East Med version of the Taliban, violent religious oafs in the hills fighting the culturally literate Phoenicians (such as the Philistines) down on the coast, Philistines who were busy inventing our alphabet (the Greeks grabbed Phoenician letters, and rotated them 90 degrees, and the rest is history, written down).
Abrahamism was an "the particular sky fairy who prefers our tribe and helps us commit genocide and war crimes". The oft-criticized "sword verses" of the Koran are as warm and gentle as fuzzy bunnies compared to the celebrated (yes!) stories in Exodus and Joshua. Wipe out all the Canaanites when Joshua invaded?" And their, kids, their wives, their cattle, their goats … that’s all good, a wonderful victory, to the Abrahamists.
If being happy about a genocide (whether or not it happens) of the Canaanites, but not happy about the actions of Hitler, isn’t morally inferior, total bigotry, what is?
The same attitude keeps resurfacing with Abrahamism, despite the "softening" to a universal rather than tribal god during the Babylonian exile, exposed to Zoroastrianism. Oooh, those evil Babylonians, making the exiles a little more tolerant to others!
We get the crusades, we get the bigotry of Pell, we get the violence of Islamist terrorists, we get millenia, at least since the time of Constantine, of Abrahamic "you are subhuman" to people of different color, creed, gender or sexual orientation – oh – and of course, all the Abrahamist nutters who are anti-science.
Oh well, the attitude of Jews to "He who must not be named" does have resonance with a far-less vicious supernatural being familar to all Harry Potter fans.
Compared to the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Sumerians, Phoenicians, … and so many other cultures in the region, what has Jewish culture ever down for us?
Genesis Is Myth
Pell comments on the Adam and Eve myth as a religious story rather than literal truth caused another storm, with a different group of extremists.
Anybody with at least half a brain knows that it’s myth, but does Pell have any choice given his other statements over the years justifying dogmatic bigotry?
There are two conflicting creation stories in Genesis, both can’t be correct, both cannot be literally true, and if Pell picks one over the other, he must give his reasons for that – a level of Biblical scholarship that would undermine the entire tome – the bigotry of Leviticus and the rantings of Paul.
But Pell knows his flock, the lambs-to-the-slaughter, and the other mob who cite biblical verses as authorization to be bigots, won’t have that scholarship. No harm done to his agenda as far as he is concerned.
- Q and A transcript of Pell’s comments (ABC, 2012-04-09)
- Cultural Inferiority
GEORGE PELL: Normally you go to a busy person because you know they’ll do it and so for some extraordinary reason God chose the Jews. They weren’t intellectually the equal of either the Egyptians or the…
TONY JONES: Intellectually?
GEORGE PELL: Intellectually, morally…
TONY JONES: How can you know intellectually?GEORGE PELL: Because you see the fruits of their civilisation. Egypt was the great power for thousands of years before Christianity. Persia was a great power, Caldia. The poor – the little Jewish people, they were originally shepherds. They were stuck. They’re still stuck between these great powers.
TONY JONES: But that’s not a reflection of your intellectual capacity, is it, whether or not you’re a shepherd?
GEORGE PELL: Well, no it’s not but it is a recognition it is a reflection of your intellectual development, be it like many, many people are very, very clever and not highly intellectual but my point is…
- On Genesis as Myth
TONY JONES: So are you talking about a kind of Garden of Eden scenario with an actual Adam and Eve?
GEORGE PELL: Well, Adam and Eve are terms – what do they mean: life and earth. It’s like every man. That’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science but it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and the universe. Secondly, that the key to the whole of universe, the really significant thing, are humans and, thirdly, it is a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and suffering in the world.
TONY JONES: But it isn’t a literal truth. You shouldn’t see it in any way as being an historical or literal truth?
GEORGE PELL: It’s certainly not a scientific truth and it’s a religious story told for religious purposes.
- "Cardinal Apologises for describing Jews as intellectually inferior" (The Age, 2012-04-13)
- "Adam and Eve? That’s just mythology says Pell" (The Australian, 2012-04-10).
- Other Posts on Pell
- "God the Interview – A Club Troppo Exclusive" (Club Troppo, 2012-04-12)