Saturday, August 22, 2015


I continue to work on my Old Sanctuary project including collecting the sermons of Rabbi Simon Koch who served that congregation from 1907-1942.

I don't have the sermons but do have excerpts from many of them from newspaper articles.  His sermon on fanaticism, givine in 1914 struck me:

Fanaticism is the milk of human kindness soured.  It is the exultant license of a temporarily  entrenched majority exulting to the strenth and playing with the victim under pretense of righteousness.  Fanaticism is the will of a homogeneous sect imposed on a heterogenrous group.  It is earnestness shot behond the mark; an interpretation of complex life from a single angle in terms of primitive simplicity and in conformity with the outlook of a coterie.

Fanaticsism is spiritual obsession, mental myopia, thralldom to a fixed idea.  To gain its purpose, it is not above duplicity, mendacity or subterfuge.  The consecration to a fixed idea, it is open to questionable partnerships, contradictory alliances.  Like politics fanaticism makes strange bedfellows.  Fanaticism is essentially undemocratic, unpatriotic, and nonreligious.  It considers neither individual, state or nation, as a whole, if only the tenets the group swears by prevail.
 This is before the rise of the Nazis but antisemitism still  ran strong.  Also can be applied to some forms of evangelistic Christianity despite disingenuous denials.

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