“The United States of America threatens the world with violence in ways that no other country does,” says novelist and journalist James Carroll in a recent interview in Salon Magazine, “and that boils down to our refusal to disarm after the end of the Cold War.”
Carroll, a long-time anti-war activist, blames America’s “unchecked, monumental national security establishment” for “defining our nation in terrible ways.”
This is not the first time that Carroll resorts to incendiary rhetoric to get a rise out of readers. He has made an entire career out of hyperbolic assertions to make himself a darling of the Left, who willingly turn a blind eye to his countless historical inaccuracies because of his sympathetic ideological bent.
Though neither a theologian nor a biblical scholar, Carroll generously shares his theories about Christianity and its origins.
In his latest work, Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age, Carroll, a professional Christian debunker, warms over a claim he has made in previous works, namely that the New Testament is an anti-Semitic work that has fueled violence against the Jews since its writing up to the present day.
As a child of the 1960s, Carroll paints Jesus as the familiar Vietnam War-era pacifist. “The thing that I most value about Jesus was his clear commitment to nonviolence in a very violent world,” Carroll says, adding that “the nonviolence of Jesus speaks directly to the American condition.”
Though he identifies himself as a “Catholic,” much of Carroll’s writing expresses his deep bitterness and anger toward the Church. “One of the most creative things that’s happened to the Catholic Church in America,” Carroll says, “has been this vast exodus of Catholics from the church.”
“I was part of the anti-war movement,” Carroll says. “I was a Catholic priest and chaplain at Boston University, which was a center of the anti-war movement, and those were defining years for me.”
Carroll also recalls that his father was an Air Force general, “very much involved in the administration of the Vietnam War” and it was precisely the war, according to Carroll, that occasioned “my break with my father.”
For non-critical readers nostalgic for some good-old 1970s pacifism and some Dan Brown style Jesus-maiming, Christ Actually might be the Christmas read for you.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome