Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

There's a fascinating interview with N T Wright in the latest Christianity Today.  Worth reading as a whole but  I was particularly struck by the following comment:

Posted on Tuesday, January 02, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

In addition to Del's suggestions, I recommend Richard J Evans, Lying about Hitler (Basic Books).   Evans, Chair of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, was the expert witness at the Irving-Lipstadt trial in London, where British writer David Irving sued American professor, Deborah Lipstadt, over claims in her book, Denying the Holocaust (Penguin) that he was a Holocaust Denier.  Hmmmm, sounds familiar.  Seriously, Evans' book is a page turner -- partly a courtroom thriller, partly a first-hand account of how a great historian does his work.  What can I say?  A must-read, especially for theonomists.  Put down those stones and take up and read.....

Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Forgot to point out one other obvious matter (implicit in my earlier blog but, on the basis of recent correspondence, I take nothing for granted as being obvious): RJR's point in citing other atrocities in World War Two relates directly to the other side of Holocaust Denial -- the relativisation of the whole thing.  Yes, the British bombed Hamburg; yes, the Allies betrayed the Poles; yes, the Russians had gulags -- but none of these involved the kind of systematic technology of intentional genocide which we find in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and which was so central to the post-Wannsee Final Solution.  The death toll was appalling (in the gulags it far exceeded the Nazi death camps -- but no gulag was designed specifically as a factory of death; they were slave labour camps) and the atrocities should not be excused; but to equate these with the Holocaust is to indulge in that other aspect of Holocaust Denial -- the downplaying of the role of anti-Semitic, racist  intention combined with the technological delivery of death, factory-production-line style; and, of course, it is basic to advocates of the kind of figures paraded by Rassinier, Irving and co that the gas chambers did not exist; indeed, the point is frequently explicit.

I will write no more on this.

Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

The reaction to my statement that RJR was a Holocaust Denier (and thus either historically incompetent, racist or mentally unhinged) has elicited quite a bit of response, from very polite statements that I have misread him to veritable tirades accusing me of serious historical incompetence and demanding full apologies to his followers. The accusation of incompetence against me hinges on the fact that I have cited no evidence. Well, that was simply due to the fact that (a) while I have read RJR on this, I do not own his works and thus was not able to get immediate access to them and (b) I had not anticipated that so many would question what I had assumed was a well-known fact. So, here goes – those who asked for the reference can now have it.

Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

At the  end of 2006, as I look back on the year, I repent of my previous view of blogging as a trivial medium.  Here's what I learned from my various correspondents over the year:

Posted on Friday, December 22, 2006 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Oh, my.  I seem to be being struck off all manner of Xmas card lists which, thankfully, I was probably never on in the first place. Two clarifications (at the risk of repeating myself) and a further comment:

1. I did not say Rushdoony and Holocaust Deniers are necessarily racists.  I said they were necessarily either incompetent historians or racists or mentally ill or some combination of the three.  Never having met the man, I would not presume to say which of these four options motivated him to write as he did.

2. Some correspondents seem not to understand the nature of Holocaust Denial and the literary culture which has grown up around it. The lowering of numbers in HD literature is not simply a matter of statistics.  It is, in the world of Rassinier and co, inextricably linked with arguments over the very nature of the Holocaust as an intentional act of genocide.  The difference between 6 million and 1 million is not the difference between overestimating and underestimating the dead; it is the difference believing that Auschwitz existed as a death camp with gas chambers and believing it was just a prison camp with communal shower units where people happened to die of cold and disaease. In other words, scaling the numbers down dramtically is, technically, Holocaust denial. If Rushdoony was not sharp enough to see the connection, if he really did think the difference between Rassinier and the mainstream was one of exaggeration, he was seriously historically incompetent; if he did see it and chose to ignore it, he was -- well, either a racist or a loon.  I see no other option.

3. I can't tell you what it means to me to know that Holocaust deniers find advocates among good Christian folk.  Now it seems that voting Democrat is the only unforgivable sin.

Enough of this!   The church of Christ should give no quarter to such evil tripe. 

Posted on Thursday, December 21, 2006 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

My comments on the late RJR have stimulated some feedback.

Posted on Wednesday, December 20, 2006 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

The latest edition of Harper's Magazine has an article by Jeff Sharlet on how the Christian right is reimagining US history.  R J Rushdoony gets quite a few column inches but Sharlet misses the worst aspect of this man's history: Holocaust Denial.

Posted on Friday, December 15, 2006 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I notice that the bookstore at WTS (http://www.wtsbooks.com/) is puffing a new book by the late WIlliam Still, flagging it up with a godly puff from Sinclair Ferguson.  Well, Willie made an impact on me too.

Posted on Thursday, December 14, 2006 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

There's nothing like my annual alumnus magazine to make me feel a failure.  This year, I read that one of my contemporaries was Rachel Weisz's boyfriend (!!!); and that two other alumni are responsible for those pillars of cutting-edge literary culture, `C**p Towns' and `C**p Towns II' (!!!!), identifying the worst places in Britain to live (my guess is that Luton and Basingstoke must feature pretty heavily.....).  With cultural competition like that, I have only the fact that I'm not Welsh to stop me feeling like a total waste of space.

On a more serious note, I note the death of another contemporary in the obituray column of the magazine.  I remember hearing a sermon at college where the preacher, in a vain effort to persuade a bunch of nineteen years olds of their mortality, told us all to read the obits column of our alumni magazines every year.  Sooner or later, he said, we would see the truth of our own mortality reflected in the ever-increasing numbers of our contemporaries who die.  Today's one of those days, I guess, when I am reminded not simply of my own failure, but of the failure of humanity as a whole; and then of the one who brings success paradoxically, through his failure,of the one who brings salvation not from death, but through death.