Weird & Medieval: The German Judensau Row

As reported by “Totally” news’s Alan Hall…

A German Jewish artist is calling on churches throughout the country to provide better explanations as to why they contain medieval sculptures depicting Jews being suckled by pigs.

The demand comes in the wake of attempts by Regensburg Cathedral in Bavaria to justify its 650-year-old piece, the Judensau or Jewish sow.

If you’re seated on the left side of the blog, you can look out your window to see a real live image of a stone cold Judensau. (The image was lifted shamelessly from the Martin Luther website. This particular one has the advantage of being extra-offensive to Jews, mocking their holy language to boot.) [update 5/1/05 — Martin Luther’s gone MIA, taking his page and my stolen picture with him.]

The Regensburg Cathedral has recently added a sign explaining the significance of their Judensau in response to Jewish outcry. But Wolfram Kastner, aforementioned Jewish German artist, is leading a protest and demanding that the images be removed from all churches because, “For centuries, these depictions have caused murder, robberies, and degradation.”

You don’t have to be a tooth-gnashing Limbaugh dittohead to feel uncomfortable with Herr Kastner’s demands that these offensive statues be removed from all churches. Especially perplexing is his demand that the churches provide better explanations. Isn’t the explanation clear? “In the middle ages, Jews were’t so much respected as not. This is a cathedral that has been around since then.” Will outraged feminists soon demand an explanation for why there were no female apostles?

This is about as absurd as all the hubub around the Passion of the Christ’s depiction of jews being counter to the Vatican II general Jewish Christ-killing-related amnesty. Over and over, the talking heads mentioned that Mel Gibson belongs to a splinter sect of the Catholic church that doesn’t recognize these important reforms. You know who else doesn’t recognize Vatican II (or Vatican I, or much of anything Vatican-related)? Protestants!

I’m highly skeptical that people visiting these German churches know that these carvings are meant to depict jews in the first place. Most people probably discover this when they read the signs that are meant to pacify their offended modern sensibilities. If the outrage over this medieval legacy causes more signs to be put up, then it seems to me like it’ll have the opposite effect: more people will see these carvings as slights against jews.

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