The past twenty-four hours have been among the most painful of my life. I have always prided myself on being intelligent. I have always thought I was bright. People have told me I am bright. People have told me I am intelligent. On the last IQ test I took in 2003, I scored a 148. Supposedly, I am Mensa material.
When I was in the Christian religion I embraced it wholeheartedly. I worked with a discipler, I went to Bible studies, I hosted Bible studies, I attended seminars, and I studied on my own. I went through the New Testament several times, memorizing key verses. I read the Old Testament as well, but the emphasis in Christianity is on the New Testament so that is where I focused my attention. I even read the Book of the Revelations a couple of times, but since I was not really interested in end times prophesies I did not pay much attention. I do remember a handful of sermons on the subject, and I remember a reference to the "Synagogue of Satan" warning of the dangers of turning away from Christ.
When I first started college, my major was pre-law. I devoured every law class the school had to offer, maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Once I exhausted all of the legal courses I went to my school counselor for the first time. He advised me to change my major to English because of all the reading and writing involved in law school. So I did. Even though I went cross-eyed in primary school at the mere mention of adjectives and adverbs, I studied the intricacies of the English language. I learned the importance of words. I became a stickler for using just the right word to convey a given message. I have used the skills I acquired during the course of my education to write countless articles, essays, research papers, editorials, legal, briefs, and so on.
One of the courses I was required to take was critical thinking. It was my performance in that class which resulted in my first college scholarship. In her recommendation, my professor wrote "LaDonna is in the top ten percent of all of the students I have had in twenty-two years of teaching this course". High praise indeed.
Someone on Twitter shocked me yesterday with information concerning a phone call between the Reverend Billy Graham and President Nixon. That information caused me to reevaluate things I thought I knew about Christianity. My readers know of the issues I have regarding that religion; there is no reason to regurgitate them here. But, late last night one thing struck me like a ton of bricks.
"The Synagogue of Satan."
I thought I knew words. I thought I understood language. I thought I excelled at picking apart words and phrases in order to discern their meaning. I thought I was intelligent. I thought I understood Christianity. I thought the "Synagogue of Satan" was a euphemism for the apostate church, those who had turned away from "The Word". I distinctly remember a sermon making that very claim. Even though the verse in question mentions Jews by name, Christian literature and sermons blend both Christians and Jews under this heading to condemn those who do not serve Christ.
If I am Mensa material, if I am so intelligent, why did it never occur to me to ask the question:
How many Christian churches are called "synagogues"?
Before the reader jumps in to explain that the writers of the New Testament were Jewish, let me point out that those same writers had no trouble using the word "church" when speaking of the so-called "Rapture", nor of the "bride of Christ", nor when chastising wayward Christians.
No. The "Synagogue of Satan" is specific.
It refers to Jews.
But it gets worse. For within the verse itself is an accusation that I always thought was taken out of context, given that this verse was merely a euphemism. Revelations 2:9 reads as follows:
"I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the Synagogue of Satan."
How many times have I had this argument with people who used this very verse to condemn Jews? How many times has someone made the allegation that there are such things as "real" Jews and "fake" Jews? How many times has this libel been given to me as a statement of fact? I never realized the source of this lie. I never made the connection, and because of my thoughtlessness I have unwittingly participated in the very blood libels I have fought so vigorously to oppose.
I am a fool. I am an idiot.
I, too, have blood on my hands.
I, too, have blood on my hands.
I hang my head in shame.