Author's Introduction11/22/2015 12:27
Roman! In AD 325, the Nicean council met under guidance of Emperor Constantine. Still the predominant political authority of civilization, the Roman empire had to contend with a new religion, one that had burgeoned and expanded with a ferocity that needed control. The council brought the factions together to impose order, a set of rules and a holy bible were compiled to adhere to Roman structure. Anything else would be declared heresy, despite the dogma itself owing more to Paganism than Judaeism, its supposed root. For this reason, Christians celebrate the day of rest on Sun’s day rather than the Sabbath.
Catholic derives from the Greek words kata ‘in respect of’ and holos ‘the whole’, which together form the word katholikos ‘universal’. It is therefore the religion that brought together diverse strands into one church. Throughout history, this whole has been capable of collective cruelty to enforce the orthodox. The Albigensian crusades wiped out the Cathars of Southern Europe and its Inquisition left a historic mark by minuting the various torture executed in the name of the Lord. Men fought wars for one hundred years to preserve its canon and more recently the church turned a blind eye when the Holocaust raged, its architects often devout Catholics.
Important to Catholicism is the Confession, whereby the church allows its patron to confess his or her sin, thereby absolving himself and preserving a place in heaven. In effect, it is another sign of the church’s supreme pragmaticism, for where would be, if we held those acts to ourselves. We would become insane. It allows criminals to reform, even if conversely, it allows those persons to re-offend and justifies horror in the knowledge that its soldiers will not be damned to Hell.
Truth in Ash is made up of a number of confessions by characters that impacted the life of a central character, Franz Wolff, the son of Joseph and Mary. His friends and colleagues Peter, Mark, John, Luke and Paul relate his life as they know it, just as the Apostles would have done of Jesus Christ. They relate it as known and sometimes as they wanted it known. A story of compassion and sin, how far one balancing the other will never be known. The truth is exposed in his trial thirty years after he served in Auschwitz. We see that it was possibly distorted both by flawed witness and by selective memory of the defendant. We will never know the real truth. Complicity, both of Franz and his church, is hard to defend or attack, particularly as most evidence floated as Ash up the camp chimneys.