Michael Daly CJ Blog

A Companion of Jesus

What sort of Christ do we preach?

I am concerned at the triumphalistic rhetoric I hear so much of these days in evangelical Christian circles which demonise Moslems and preaches a Christ I know not. When I am told that God is ‘an all consuming fire’…I get the impression that those who quote this scripture are somehow telling me that God will not tolerate these unbelievers and will burn them up in a devouring hellish fire.

The consuming fire which I know my God to be, is that he is a furious  ‘all consuming fire’ of love.

The following story is from the life of  the Jewish philosopher of American Communism in the 1920’s, Mike Gold.  I liken it to a parable for now as it begs the question for us today…what kind of Christ do we preach?

John Powell S.J.  tells the following story from Mike Gold’s life as related in the autobiography,  ‘A Jew Without Knowing’.  “In describing his childhood in New York City, he tells of his mother’s instructions never to wander beyond four certain streets. She could not tell him that it was a Jewish ghetto. She could not tell him that he had the wrong kind of blood in his veins. Children do not understand prejudice. Prejudice is a poison that must gradually seep into a person’s blood stream.

In his narration, Mike Gold tells of the day that curiosity lured him beyond  the four streets, outside of his ghetto, and how he was accosted by a group of older boys who asked him a puzzling question: ‘Hey, kid, are you a Kike?’  ‘I don’t know.’  He had never heard the word before. The older boys came back with a paraphrase of their question.  ‘Are you a Christ-Killer?’  Again, the small boy responded,  ‘I don’t know.’  He had never heard that word either.  So the older boys asked him where he lived, and trained like most small boys to recite their address in the case of being lost, Mike Gold told them where he lived.  ‘So you are a Christ-Killer. Well you’re in Christian territory and we are Christians. We’re going to teach you to stay where you belong!’  And so they beat the little boy, bloodied his face and tore his clothes and sent him home to the jeering litany:  ‘We are Christians and you killed Christ! Stay where you belong! We are Christians, and you killed Christ….’

When he arrived home, Mike Gold was asked by his frightened mother:  ‘What happened to you, Mike?’  He could answer only:  ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Who did this to you, Mike?’  Again he answered:  ‘I don’t know.’  And so his mother washed the blood from the face of her little boy and put him into fresh clothes and took him into her lap as she sat in a rocker, and tried to soothe him. Mike Gold recalled so much later in life that he raised his small battered lips to the ear of his mother and asked:  ‘Mama, who is Christ?’

Mike Gold died in 1967. His last meals were taken at a Catholic Charity house in New York City, run by Dorothy Day. She once said of him: ‘Mike Gold eats every day at the table of Christ, but he will probably never accept him because of the day he first heard his name.’  And so he died.”

(Story taken from John Powell’s book, ‘Why I am afraid to Love?’ Harper Collins Publishers 1975)

Michael Daly C.J.

September 2010

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September 23, 2010 - Posted by | Thoughts

2 Comments »

  1. “His last meals were taken at a Catholic Charity house in New York City, run by Dorothy Day”.

    This is not correct; Gold died in California. Day and Gold did become close friends as young journalists during World War I. They corresponded occasionally after that. He may have visited the Catholic Worker house in New York city, but most certainly did not take his “last meals” there.

    Comment by Phil Runkel | September 23, 2010 | Reply

    • Dear Phil,

      Thanks for the information on Mike Gold and Dorothy Day.

      I don’t know where Powell took his references from for the story quoted. I have read somewhere that Gold died as you stated in California at the age of 74 and was at one time engaged to Dorothy Day, but don’t ask me where…. I also can’t find a reference to a book ‘A Jew without Knowing it! but presume Powell may have meant Gold’s book “Jews Without Money”, which I haven’t read…so can’t be sure..

      I will put a comment on the Blog correcting the historicity of details.

      Thanks again and please keep reading and correcting when necessary.

      Live loved

      Michael Daly

      Comment by michaeldalycj | September 24, 2010 | Reply


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