*Constantine’s Sword Former priest turned bestselling author James Carroll is our guide through the long history of complicity between Christianity, military force, and the persecution of others, with a focus on anti-Semitism. Troubled by “the things people are doing in the name of God” today, he notes that “Jews were considered Christ-killers from the start of Christianity as a state religion” under Emperor Constantine, who may well have converted out of political expediency

or because it was the only faith that could stretch far enough to forgive his own myriad sins. (In one year alone he had his wife and eldest son killed.) The Crusaders targeted Jews before going after Muslims; the Inquisition followed suit; Roman Jews were virtually incarcerated in a walled ghetto for 300 years until the mid-19th century. Another hundred years later, the Vatican turned a discreet blind eye to the Nazis. Carroll finds all of this compelling on a personal level, as he was raised in a highly devout Catholic military family (which at one point was granted an audience with the Pope) and was once torn between choosing the priesthood and following his Air Force General father’s path. (They had a major falling out when Carroll joined Vietnam War protests, and, in disillusionment, left the church.) He worries now about the influence of religious zeal on political and military policies not just in the White House, but in ground-level training: stationed just a short hop from now-disgraced preacher Ted Haggard’s New Life megachurch, several thousand cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs found their dinner places embellished with flyers for The Passion of the Christ. This absorbing documentary directed by Oren Jacoby roams the globe and combs the archives to further fill out Carroll’s very strong case for keeping church and a hawkish state well separated. (1:35) Roxie. (Harvey)   Web link