In addition to Michener’s obvious themes of multiculturalism (by force, if necessary) and miscegenation, another trope that turns up often in his works is a particular admiration for the romanticized version of Judaism. Nowhere was this more apparent than in his 1965 novel about Israel, The Source. Written during a time when American interest and sympathy towards Israel was at its peak, due in no small part to works such as Leon Uris’s Exodus and the movie Judgment at Nuremburg. The Source would go on to become the top-selling novel of 1965 and could be said to represent the pinnacle of Michener’s career.
To the Bible-believing Christian, it also must be ranked among the most insidious pieces of popular fiction of the twentieth century.
In terms of sheer scope, The Source certainly is among Michener’s most ambitious works. It covers the history of a settlement in Palestine from prehistoric times to the 1960’s, with detailed chapters concerning its pagan origins, its flowering under the kingdoms of David and Solomon, and its existence under Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Mohammedan, Crusader, and British rule. The chapters are held together by a connecting story concerning a modern archaeological dig on the site by a mixed Jewish-Arabic expedition headed by an Irish-Catholic American, John Cullinane.
It doesn’t take us long to realize, though, that Cullinane will be presented as the prototypical Reactionary White Guy who needs to have his brain scrubbed and that right early.
Young Cullinane and his friends would listen in growing anger as they heard of the manner in which the Jews betrayed Jesus, forced a crown of thorns upon His brow, nailed Him to the cross, pierced His side, mocked Him in His agony and even bargained in selling His clothes. . . . It was not till Cullinane reached college that he discovered that it had not been the Jews who had done these things to Jesus; it had been Roman soldiers. He also discovered that no Catholic dignitary who had advanced beyond the stage of parish priest any longer proclaimed such views.1
Michener’s intellectual elitism has never been more apparent than in this passage. Little people like parish priests are cretins, while the upper echelons of any organization dispense pearls of wisdom. As well, while Roman soldiers may have carried out the Crucifixion in accordance with Pilate’s edict, the fact remains that Jewish betrayal of Christ is what sent Him to the cross in the first place. Hence, this passage is disingenuous as well.
Cullinane’s main means of enlightenment is a young Jewish scholar named Eliav. A prescient example of their relationship takes place after Cullinane notes Jews’ ability to quote biblical passages, in language that makes it sound like an ethereal trait. Noting that the King James Bible is too poetic in its description (to a Catholic?!), Eliav gives him an unnamed “Jewish translation” of Isaiah 7:14 to study:
“Look at the original Hebrew,” Eliav suggested, handing him a third version, and in the original language of the Bible the word virgin was not mentioned. It had been introduced by Christian scholars as a device for proving that the Old Testament prophesied the New and that the New should therefore supersede the Old. “Throughout the centuries,” Eliav explained, “hundreds of thousands of Jews were burned to death or massacred because their own Bible was misused against them. I think we’re entitled to an accurate Jewish version.”2
This “Jewish translation,” of course, also happens to coincide with the translation of the Revised Standard Version, produced by the Rockefeller-funded National Council of Churches and notorious for the blatantly Jewish slant of key verses such as Isaiah 7:14. As we will see later, this Rockefeller connection is no coincidence on Michener’s part.
Things get worse, though, in the historical sections. Much worse. In a chapter set in 1419 BC concerning the migration of one Jewish family into the land of Canaan, Michener presumes to speak for God Himself in giving instructions to the patriarch:
“The walls of the town shall open to receive you and the gods of the place you shall respect.”3
Respect?! What god does Michener mention here? Certainly not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Certainly not the Creator of the Ten Commandments!
Immediately following this, we are told of the nature of this god:
He was a jealous god, yet he allowed non-Hebrews to worship whatever lesser gods they pleased.4
This is not the same God who, in Leviticus 18:26, decreed: “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you.” This is a pagan entity which holds different ethnicities to different spiritual standards, just as the Talmud and John Hagee do.
And, lest we fail to grasp where Michener stands on Judaic supremacy, we are presented with this passage:
In these centuries when God . . . was forging a Christian church so that it might fulfill the longing of a hungry world, He was at the same time perfecting His first religion, Judaism, so that it might stand as the permanent norm against which to judge all others. Whenever in the future some new religion strayed too far from the basic precepts of Judaism, God could be assured that it was in error; so in the Galilee, His ancient cauldron of faith, He spent as much time upon the old Jews as He did upon the new Christians.5
This would certainly have come as a shock to Christ, while He was telling the apostles to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. It should also come as a shock to any biblical scholar that God had any need of a “first religion.” Michener here can only bring to mind a somewhat better educated Hal Lindsey, as he also does when he paints a portrait of the Crusader mentality later:
Why did not the Christians, since they held supreme power, simply annihilate the Jews once and for all? They were restrained because Christian theologians had deduced from passages in the New Testament the ambivalent theory that Jesus Christ would not return to earth bringing with Him the heavenly kingdom until all Jews were converted to Christianity, but at the same time 144,000 unconverted Jews were needed to be on hand to recognize Him and bear witness to His arrival. On this ambivalent theory two courses of action had been built: Jews must be converted; and those necessary few who refused must be kept in such obvious misery that all who looked could see what happened to people who denied Jesus Christ.6
If an author were to ask, “Why did not the Israelis, since they held supreme power, simply annihilate the Palestinians once and for all?” and then go on to provide a justification through a misinterpreted verse of the Talmud, he could expect a character assassination at best and a physical assassination at worst. Yet no Christian leader of the time, neither Billy Graham nor Fulton Sheen, so much as said “boo” to Michener. It pays to please the hierarchy.
Perhaps the nadir of this entire sordid tale, though, occurs when Michener describes a process of “conversion” of a lady of Canaan, done with the sort of touch that only he could provide:
Claiming her for himself, he had found much joy in having her in his tent in the long nights. She was a Canaanite who worshiped Baal the omnipotent, but as Zadok lay with her, feeling her warmth against his tired body, he spoke with her against the Canaanite god and convinced himself that he was winning her away from Baal and to an acceptance of the true god.7
As mentioned before, The Source was the top-selling novel of 1965. One can only shudder thinking how many housewives in Omaha and Boise and Montgomery were theologically influenced by such a shabby, disgusting spectacle.
Finally, towards the book’s end, we are treated to that old canard we’ve come to know and love — Eliav justifies Israeli crimes:
You know, when there was a town on this tell years ago a girl who married had to be sure that on the morning after the wedding her mother could parade through the town a bloodstained sheet, proving that her daughter had been a virgin. What kind of sheet do you propose that the Israeli government parade through the world? And to whom? To Peru, for example, which disinherited its Indians and accomplished nothing in doing so? To Australia, which conscientiously set out to kill off every Tasmanian and succeeded? To Portugal? To the United States with its Negro problem? Let us first see parading through the streets of Jerusalem the bloodstained sheet of Russia, proving that she was a virgin. Or the sheets of Germany and France.8
Scatology figures prominently in Jewish imagery, yet even taking that into consideration, this grotesque tableau is unique in that regard.
Such perverted notions of Judaism would go on to become a staple in Michener’s other works as well following The Source’s success, as documented in this passage from Chesapeake:
Jesus Christ was a Jew, a real Jewish rabbi with a long nose, and no living man ever accomplished more on this earth. For Adolf Hitler to persecute the spiritual descendants of Jesus is wrong . . . to discriminate in any way against the Jew is to deny the heritage of Jesus Christ.9
For all his biblical pretensions when they suited his purposes, Michener apparently never got around to reading John chapter 8.
Michener and Statism
During an interview for Parade magazine, Michener spelled out his political and spiritual philosophy in no uncertain terms:
I decided (after listening to a “talk radio” commentator who abused, vilified, and scorned every noble cause to which I had devoted my entire life) that I was both a humanist and a liberal, each of the most dangerous and vilified type. I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create a reasonably decent society. I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril. I do not believe that pure reason can solve the perpetual problems unless it is modified by poetry and art and social vision. So I am a humanist. And if you want to charge me with being the most virulent kind—a secular humanist—I accept the accusation.10
As could be expected from someone who spent a lifetime keeping his mind so open all the common sense fell out, Michener never met a system of soft totalitarianism he didn’t like. Who was to provide society with “constant moral guidance”? According to his autobiography, quite a polyglot of influences:
I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson — the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.11
One can only wonder why Michener admired the “behaviour” of Thomas Jefferson as opposed to his statesmanship or his philosophy. Doubtless he was an avid believer in the Sally Hemings tale.
Over and over in his works, we are treated to the same awesomely naïve view of politics: most “public servants” are decent, hard-working, long-suffering idealists striving to implement their better society on an unwashed peasantry, which naturally yearns for the same thing but lack the intelligence to put it in place themselves. Satirical criticism is most assuredly not Michener’s forte. The closest he would get to such would be passages such as this one from Centennial:
Like most Coloradans, Garrett felt that the Republican Party represented the time-honored values of American life and could be trusted to place in office men and women of probity who would remain above temptation. Whenever a Republican officeholder turned out to be a crook, as one or another did year after year, he explained away the affair as an accident. On the other hand, he felt that in time of crisis, when real brains were needed to salvage the nation, it was best to place Democrats in office, since they usually showed more imagination. And when one Democrat after another proved colossally stupid, he termed that failure an accident too.12
And, for all his “respectability,” there were times a more ominous note would be sounded in Michener’s writings, as documented by the following discussion between a white Afrikaner and a black revolutionary towards the end of The Covenant:
Scheepers: It’s impossible to follow your reasoning. Those young people were undisciplined rioters. They were led by professional agitators.
Nxumalo: I must beg to contradict. The young black boys of Soweto were rather similar to the young Boer lads who fought the English in 1899. They took up arms against their oppressors, the English. . . .
Scheepers: If we are all Africans, why the emphasis on the power of black Africans?
Nxumalo: . . . our people must develop pride in themselves – Black Consciousness. And if you force me – Black Power. We cannot negotiate with whites from a position of inferiority.13
Blacks rarely, if ever, are motivated by base motivations of their own in Michener’s world. They are “forced” into becoming criminals by a patriarchal, white, Christian oligopoly. The “awakening consciousness” is all-important, even if it contradicts itself with the equally all-important pluralistic worldview, as the above two passages do!
As I hope I have demonstrated, Michener’s enthusiasm for a world order based upon blurred ethnic lines and a vague (if heavily Judaic-inspired) “spirituality” seems readily apparent. I can think of no better summary of his worldview than the following quote from his non-fiction work on Spain, Iberia:
For almost four centuries, it [Spain] enforced an intellectual conformity and rejected all minorities. The Moors, the Jews, the Illuminati, the Jesuits, and the Protestants were expelled and their ideas with them. Spain thus became the next nation in a tragic series who decided to fence out new ideas rather than welcome them and she suffered the inescapable penalty. An oyster can live to itself, but without grains of sand for agitation it cannot produce pearls.14
Or, to be even more prescient, Michener writes the following passage, in which he names his ultimate influence:
I was overcome by the solemn majesty of this town, rescued from thoughtless ruin by the imagination of the Rockefellers.15
Considering that Michener was asked in 1975 to serve on a panel discussion on the arts in education, funded by the federal government and chaired by David Rockefeller, Jr., that admiration was reciprocated fully.16
In the interest of fairness, it should be pointed out that Michener’s work is not entirely without merit. His novels are packed with enough detail to make them interesting, if artless, reads. While his agenda is also obvious in such works as Poland and Space, they are sufficiently in the background enough to make these novels less irritating than the works cited above.
In the balance though, James A. Michener must be regarded as an enemy of our people, inimical to our culture and all too willing to destroy our heritage, desiring to replace it with a sick rainbow-colored utopia which could never exist except in his and other internationalists’ minds.
This is all too clear when one considers the astounding number of accolades this staid, ponderous novelist (who prompted one critic to quip, “Rice Krispies happens to be one of my favorite junk foods, just as I regard Michener as superior among junk writers”17) received over his career. Consider:
- A Pulitzer Prize for his first published work in 1948.
- The Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.
- A suite in a hotel in Singapore named after him.
- A postage stamp issued in his honor in 2008.
And many, many other honors.
Is it not possible that some of these honors, at least, were in recognition of his skill at pimping the New World Order to a comfortable, complacent, middle America?
Just as the Jewish communist (and Stalin Peace Prize winner) Howard Fast wormed his way onto Granddad’s bookshelf with his series of historical novels, James A. Michener managed the same feat. Millions read his concoctions and came away with a false sense of what “history” was. In his bland, unexciting way, he was every bit as dangerous a revolutionary as Nelson Mandela was.
Water hemlock doesn’t look very flashy, either. But ingest enough of it, and it will kill you.
- The Source, Fawcett Crest, p. 46. ↩
- Ibid., p. 196. ↩
- Ibid., p. 176. ↩
- Ibid., p. 178. ↩
- Ibid., p. 513. ↩
- Ibid., p. 765. ↩
- Ibid., p. 182. ↩
- Ibid., pp. 917-918. ↩
- Chesapeake, p. 892. Emphasis mine. ↩
- Interview, Parade magazine. 24 November 1991. ↩
- The World Is My Home, Random House. ↩
- Centennial, Fawcett Crest, p. 1002. ↩
- The Covenant, pp. 1212-1214. ↩
- Iberia, Fawcett Crest, p. 536. ↩
- The Novel, Fawcett Crest, p. 109. ↩
- Gail Jennes, “Other Rockefellers Dabble in the Arts—for David Jr., the Family Hobby Is His Career.” People magazine. August 11, 1975. ↩
- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt reviewing Chesapeake in the International Herald Tribune, August 8, 1978. ↩