Free and bound

After Carla, Narrator and Man have visited the English Church, they walk to the Catholic Begijnhof chapel. At the entrance Man explains:

“In spring 1942, I have received the first sacraments [1] of the Catholic faith in this Catholic chapel with the official name Johannes and Ursula chapel. In 1671, this chapel had started as a hidden chapel by connecting two houses in the Begijnhof to create a Church space. The former city council had approved the plans for the reconstruction on the condition that from the outside one cannot see that in here a Catholic chapel was located.
Katholieke Begijnhof kapel buitenzijde[2]
With the receiving of the first sacraments in this Catholic Begijnhof Chapel my faith had changed from Jewish to Catholic to the outside world. Via friends of my aunt at the Civil Registry in Rotterdam, I have received a few days later my other name Hermanus Jacobus Maria Leben including accompanying identity papers; from that moment on my name was Man Leben instead of Levi Hermann. With this other identity on paper I arrived through a number of intermediate steps at the farm of my godparents in South Limburg [3]. Although I have had the best time of my life at their farm, the free rendering of the poem by Rudyard Kipling [4] about the loss of his son during a fight on the Western Front in Great War had been in my life for a long time:

“Have you news of my mother?”
Not this tide.
“When do you think that she will come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide

“Has anyone else had word of her?”
Not this tide.
For what has disappeared, will not return
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide

“Oh, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide, nor any tide,
Except she had given her child —
with this wind blowing to that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide and every tide;
because I am her sun
given with this wind blowing and that tide! [5]

Much later, much later, in the preparation of saying Kaddhish in memory of my mother, the following haiku came into my life:

Wind takes you along
Volatile and fatal
From Hades’ realm.

After honouring my mother and father in the Jewish commemoration Kaddish [6], the following haiku came into my life. I always carry this haiku with me wherever I go and stand:

Where I go and stand
Your voice and your face
This tide and all tide

The long version of this haiku is the following poem:
Wherever I go, wherever I am
This tide and all tide
within this wind blowing I hear Your voice.

Wherever I go, wherever I am
This tide and all tide
within this wind blowing You’re near.

In every voice, I hear
In every face, I see
This tide and all tide
Your face.

Wherever I go, wherever I am
This tide and all tide
The passing of my life
Your face.

Let us enter the chapel”, says Man.
“You were so lonely”, says Carla.
“All one, never lonely as you had been in the solidified time. Let’s enter the chapel”, says Man.
Carla, Man and Narrator enter the Catholic Begijnhof chapel.
Katholieke Begijnhof kapel binnenzijde[7]
After visiting the chapel, Carla, Man and Narrator have a drink at the Spui.
“A long time, my memories of the Catholic Begijnhof Chapel had been vague and diffuse, but now I am old, it seems that my baptism, confirmation and first communion took place yesterday, so clearly I see and smell these events from my memories.
I also remember my dislike of the priest who has given me the first sacraments of the Catholic Church. An aversion to authority is a constant in my life. From childhood on I wanted as little as possible to do with power, because it brought me no good. Now I must admit – with shame – my mistake to the influence and – especially at the time – to the courage of the Catholic priest in Begijnhof Chapel; to him I owe further my life.
Although this priest had probably followed the Catholic canon law, he went – risking his own life – at least beyond the profane requirements of the occupier in the Netherlands and he also went beyond open undercurrents of anti-Judaism in the Christian church since this church under Constantine the Great had become the official church of the Roman Empire.
The anti-Judaism in Christianity had probably had its origins in the usual rivalry between religions in the struggle for survival, and had been shaped in the struggle for dominance between both religions and in the pursuit of purity of faith.
Before the Christian church under Constantine the Great had practically become the official church of the Roman Empire, Christians had to deal with prosecutions . In addition, they had to bend in many places in Asia Minor to the Jewish precepts and laws. The Christians could only express their dormant and sometimes outright hatred of the Jewish in words, sermons and writings. The Christian faith had emanated from and had built on the Jewish faith and rules, but as adolescents move away from their parents in order to start their own life, so the Christians moved away – and sometimes rebelled against – the Jewish faith and Jewish law and rules. Although at that time the Christians in Asia Minor had rebelled against the Jews, as descendants of the Jews – on the road to independence – both beliefs were closely linked. Also a very significant group of Christians – called Judaizers [8] – were sympathetic to Judaism: in addition to the Christian Sunday rest, they practiced the Sabbath rest, they fasted with fellow Christians and observed the Jewish rules for fasting, they celebrated the Christian Passover in the church and in their own circles the Jewish Pesach. The Christian church leaders – seeking purity of faith – were not pleased with this mix of both believe; they wished to establish the renewal of the Christian faith and eternally safeguard it in the future whereby simultaneously introduce rigidity, hierarchy and authority. In addition, the Christian church leaders wanted to establish a homogeneous block in their struggle against paganism [9]. Perhaps the Christian church leaders were more anxious about the temptations and paganism in their own sections or in their selves, than about the paganism in the outside world. An organization or person with inner doubt often tries to derive securities from the vicinity: if the environment offers security and support, the inner uncertainty will have less incentives to manifest themselves. This corresponds to a liar who do every effort to let the environment appear honest in order to avoid being caught.
In 313 AC, the Christian church was liberated from persecution under Licinius and Constantine the Great – the emperors respectively the Western and Eastern Roman Empire – with the Edict of Milan [10], by the words ” that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best” [11 ]. Although there had arisen freedom of religion within the Roman Empire by this Edict, in reality shortly after the Edict the Christian church had become he official church of the Roman Empire. At the Council of Nicaea Constantine personally made sure that the Christian Easter and the Jewish Passover were separated [12]
Around 380 AC the anti-Jewish rhetoric had reached its peak at that time in Johannes Chrysostomus (Church father, and later Archbishop of Constantinople from 398 to 403 AC). In Antioch – in that place Johannes Chrysostomus was a normal priest – was a substantial group Judaizers, despite all efforts of the Christian church to separate Christians and Jews. With his ” Preaching against the Jews ” Johannes Chrysostomus had tried to end the habit of Judaizers definitively. He compared the Judaizers with mortally ill fellow Christians that had to be cured of the Jewish plague. With all his extraordinary rhetorical gifts and his extraordinary charisma, he had disreputed the Jews in these sermons by comparing them with the lowest earthly beings around. The ultimate argument of Johannes Chrysostomus in his anti-Jewish sermons was the proposition that – without exception – all Jews were “the murderer of Jesus Christ”: herewith the Jews had call upon themselves all their misery and rejection of God. The influence of these sermons has been enormous; the translated sermons had been distributed within the Christian church. By the sermons of Johannes Chrysostomus the attitude of Christians towards the Jews had been profoundly affected; latent dislikes of the Jews have been given a voice and the image of the “Christ Killer” stigma had been inculcated [13].
Johannes Chrysostomus[14]
Before the Reformation, especially Antwerp and also Amsterdam were refuges for Jews from Spain and Portugal, and later to people of other faiths or dissenters. After the fall of Antwerp during the revolt against Spain in the Low Countries in 1585 AC [15], many – most prosperous – refugees had moved to Amsterdam. During and after the Reformation, Amsterdam has been – to a greater or lesser extent – a refuge and a kind of haven for dissenters and beliefs of others faits. My parents had relied on it as they had fled from Frankfurt am Main to Amsterdam in 1934 to escape from the effects of the other regime in Germany.
With the rise of the other regime in Germany in the 30s, xenophobia had been connected with the always latent aversion to Jews, coupled with the memory of shame of the loss of the Great War and the repayment of the war debt – that had caused a crisis and hyperinflation during the Weimar Republic between 1921 and 1923 [16] – linked with the urge to permanently establish and sustain innovation in Germany permanently. The result was a widely accepted dictatorship in Germany that had accepted no other voice and a society that wished to eradicate existing fears by projecting uncertainties on scapegoats. Removing the scapegoats from society might also remove the fears and uncertainties; this mechanism cumulative in dictated persecution of Jews that was strictly executed by the bureaucrats.
In the prime of my life I had the idea that I could shape my own life, that I could liberate myself from my past by free choices, that I did give shape to my own future shape. This liberation had largely taken place, but I have owed my whole life and the way I’ve lived for a very large part due to the Christian Church, to John Chrysostom and the consequences of his Sermons against the Jews, and the authority of the priest who has given me the first sacraments of the Catholic faith in this Catholic Begijnhof chapel. As much as I had tried to escape hereof, and how much I had resisted ‘ve done myself in the prime of my life, now I’ve peace with it. Free and bound”, says Man.
“Once I read somewhere that Church History is all encompassing. Arguably I think this is correct”, says Narrator.
“Shall we have lunch. Mid-afternoon we can continue with “Free and bound” in a personal relationship with God, during and after the Reformation. Then I suggest to continue with the rise of capitalism in Holland amongst others caused by the Reformation. Do you like of this proposal”, says Man.
“That is good. Shall I continue with the personal relationship with God? ”, says Narrator.
“Afterwards I will continue with the rise of capitalism”, says Carla.

[1] See also:
[2] Source image:,_Amsterdam
[3] See also: Drift, Carla, Man Leben – One life. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012 p. 21 – 21
[4] See also:
[5] Free rendering of: Kipling, Rudyard, My Boy Jack. See also:
[5] See also:
[6] Zie ook:
[7] Source image:
[8] See also:
[9] Source and see also: Trouillez, Pierre, Bevrijd en gebonden – De Kerk van Constantijn (4e en 5e eeuw n. Chr.). Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2006, p. 154
[10] See also:
[11] Source:
[12] Source: Schama, Simon, De geschiedenis van de Joden – Deel 1: De woorden vinden 1000 v.C. – 1492. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Atlas Contact, 2013, p. 266
[13] Source and see also: Trouillez, Pierre, Bevrijd en gebonden – De Kerk van Constantijn (4e en 5e eeuw n. Chr.). Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2006, p. 155
[14] Image of Johannes Chrysostomus in the Hagia Sophia. Source image:
[15] See also:
[16] See also:


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