Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Director of Cross-Cultural & Interfaith Programs at Claremont Lincoln University; Interfaith educator, writer, leader

Vladimir Godnik via Getty Images

“Are we still of any use?”

Bonhoeffer asks this question as he considers the Holocaust—looking back at both human depravity and the complicity that keeps “good humans” from acting. What turns all of us into bystanders and benefactors, safe in our homes, content not to rock the boat?

In the face of such staggering human loss, what can we say? Why do we humans harm each other, again and again? And is it possible to prevent atrocity and complicity?

For the week of July 27 through August 1, I participated in the 2016 Annual Seminar on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Good, Evil, and the Grey Zone: Religion’s Role in Genocide from the Holocaust to ISIS.”

Alexander Hinton, author of Why Did They Kill? Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide and the forthcoming Man or Monster? The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer in Cambodia, and Timothy Longman, author of Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda, and the forthcoming Memory and Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda, co-taught the course, which included examination of intersections of religion and genocide and the profound moral implications of the Holocaust.

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