I have never given much thought to Titus, Roman destroyer of Jerusalem in the year 70, or seen reason to rejoice in the destruction of the Second Temple and the defeat of Israel. Yet once or twice a year I’m celebrating that destruction and what it did to Jews when I sing in sing-along Messiahs, sometimes standing next to Jews who love the music of Handel. We think of them as good neighbors who generously stand up with their Christian and “other” friends during the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
Now I find that I’ve been ignorant: Handel’s Messiah is full of unnecessarily anti-Judaic themes. Since the Advent cycle is a half year away, we can take up the subject with some dispassion.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).