It's odd the way things come in cycles and this week I've had my attention focused on this issue twice. The first time was with Sr. Malone's book (reviewed below). The second was as I was writing a reflection of this scripture from St. John:
"He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. " (John 1: 10-11)
Of this passage I wrote:
. . . historians have started to use a dating system that dates everything B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) because the Latin phrase "Anno Domini" or A.D., the Year of the Lord, is "not sufficiently inclusive." What could be more inclusive than salvation for all who believe in Him? What could possibly be more inclusive that honoring Him who created all.
(The text above reflects the edits suggested by the editor and accepted by me.)
What I originally wrote may vanish because it is probably not well-conducive to serene reflection; however the editor of the column wrote to me and here, in a slightly altered version, is what I replied:
My point was, of course to emphasize the phrase "And the world knew Him not." That's the world we live in today perhpas even more so than the world of Jesus. At that time, the transmittal of news was limited to caravan and personal communication--it was at leasat understandable. In today's world it is more like an enforced amnesia--more like "We knew Him, but we're trying our best to forget Him."
I should emphasize that I do not wish not to criticize those who find themselves in academia and for the sake of academic survival must accept the system imposed upon them. What I want to point out is that it is not a "value-neutral" inclusive act. That is--it is not as though this action has no ramifications. There is great harm done when Jesus Christ is excised from historical memory by academic fiat in the name of some illusory "inclusiveness." If the dating system still dates from the traditional A.D. (even if the calculation was originally wrong) then we are still saying (no matter what the letters we use) that the history of the world was so altered by this event that we begin our dating there. Were we really to try to place a value-neutral date for beginning our chronology, it would have to be something like the date of the Shang scapulomancy fragments (earliest written language), or perhpas if all were amenable the establishment of the Sumerian civilization. And, perhaps, if academia is to have its way, we will see that proposition in the near future. If so, I suspect that it will be confined to the rarified atmosphere of the ivory tower. I would suggest that the usages BC and BCE also be confined by popular demand to the post-modernist Christ-amnesiac academic establishment. Those of us outside it should make every effort to remember Jesus even in so small a thing as two letters after a date.