The Crucified Nation

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This book examines the nexus between religion and politics, considered in one of its most controversial aspects. The starting point is the 2001 attack on the United States, which a Canadian commentator ingeniously described as the ‘passion of America’. This designation suggested an interesting inquiry into other so-called national passions: the notion of the Christ-nation crucified by evil powers because of its higher virtue. … This motif is explored by analyzing five modern nationalisms that have employed Christian symbolism in this manner: Poland, France, Germany, Ireland and Palestine. The author investigates the way in which fundamental Christian concepts are distorted and corrupted in the process, and points to the inherent dangers of this form of political self-glorification. Poets, philosophers, novelists and preachers have all played a major part in promoting the idea of the Christ-nation at certain times, mostly in the nineteenth century but also today. Famous examples are Adam Mickiewicz in Poland, Victor Hugo in France, the patriotic Lutherans during the First World War in Germany, Patrick Pearse in Ireland and certain Palestinian nationalist poets today. … The clash of cultures, religions, nationalisms and civilizations in the world today is ever more strident. The passion narratives of the five nations are interwoven with historical circumstance in order to cast light on the endurance and power of the narratives, to arrive at a final critique and ‘tract for the times’.


Alan Davies is professor emeritus at Victoria College, University of Toronto. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Jewish Book Committee’s award for scholarship on a Canadian Jewish subject (Anti-Semitism in Canada); and the author of scholarly and professional work in books on Theology, Religion and History.


“Davies examines five case studies of modern nationalisms that have incorporated Christ-like motifs, portraying the nation as crucified by evil powers because of its innocence and virtue. The case studies discuss the nationalist rhetoric of the crucified nation as it arose in Poland following its partition, Germany during its invasion by Napoleonic France, France during Prussian invasion, Ireland under British occupation, and Palestine under Israeli occupation. While not denying the reality of victimization that gave rise to the nationalist narratives of crucifixion, Davies warns against the inevitable distortions that arise from investing nationalism with a religious essence.”  —Reference & Research Book News

“Davies has written a very good little book on religion and nationalism. The author uses the suffering of Jesus Christ as a motif to examine the development of nationalism in Poland, France, Germany, Ireland, and Palestine. The type of nationalism described could be called Ecce homo nationalism because it is the suffering of an ‘innocent’ nation that is used to evoke nationalist feeling. The author’s mastery of poetry, journalism, and other common genres of nationalist imagery is very rich. He not only gives a historical overview of each country but looks to current dangers as well. The examination of nationalist use of religious imagery is well documented. The chapter on the poetry of both Christian and Muslim Palestinian nationalists invoking the Passion of Christ is very powerful. The author replies powerfully to those who argue that there is not a Palestinian nation. Great reading for upper-division students (and above) in political science, religion, history, sociology, and military affairs. Recommended.”  —Choice