Victorian Literature and Culture



EDITORS' TOPIC: VICTORIAN RELIGION

PROTESTANTS AGAINST THE JEWISH AND CATHOLIC FAMILY, C. 1829 TO C. 1860


Miriam Elizabeth Burstein a1
a1 SUNY Brockport

A PROTESTANT CLERGYMAN exhorts a young Jewish woman to tell her father of her conversion, and reminds her of Matthew 10.37: “He that loveth father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me” (Ball 36). A Roman Catholic priest rebukes a young woman who worries that a monastic vocation would be disloyal to her mother, and reminds her too of Matthew 10.37: “I must choose between God and my mother. I could not serve both; and if I made choice of the latter, I would lose my immortal soul, and be damned, quoting the passage, ‘whoever loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy to be my disciple” (O'Gorman 12–13). The same Biblical text – yet each polemicist appropriates it for noticeably different ends. In the first case, the danger lies not in young Thirza's own rejection of her father but his rejection of her; his anti-Christian sentiments have negated in advance her own challenge to his authority. But in the second, Edith O'Gorman faces a church hierarchy that equates familial affection with demonic evil. Whereas the Jewish convert mournfully recognizes that her decision may alienate her parents, the would-be nun must actively repudiate her own family.



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