Michael D. Ryan, "Religious Affirmation after Auschwitz,", in Richard Libowitz, ed., Faith and Freedom: A Tribute to Franklin H Littell, Oxford, NY: Pergamon Press, 1987, pp. 25-30

Abstract by Jerry Darring


Ryan's article centers around an experience he had at a conference during which Rabbi Richard Rubenstein dramatically declared himself a pagan, albeit a Jewish pagan. At the same conference Elie Wiesel responded to Rubenstein with a ringing affirmation of faith, declaring that "if you want difficulties, choose to live with God."

Ryan reflects on the absurd world of the Holocaust and he writes that "what we believe, and how we believe it, and to what human goals and purposes we put our belief are not morally indifferent matters" (28). This leads him to ask three questions: Is the religious community so caught up in affirming itself that it neglects or ignores the rights of other religious communities, especially when those communities are in the minority? Is your faith such that you would be willing to destroy the world for the sake of that faith? Can we reclaim our moral human values as a religious obligation after the Holocaust has had such a shattering effect on human rights?