Critiques & Controversies: December 2004 Archives

Revisiting CE and BCE

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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.

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On Tsunami Detection


This morning I heard on NPR that the "Ring of Fire" (basically the Pacific Ocean Basin) is peppered with little buoys that can detect the presence of a Tsunami hours before it makes landfall. In most cases, this would probably be enough time to escape the shoreline and preserve life and limb.

This is not true of the Indian Ocean, although, NPR implied, after this disaster it soon would be. And my thought on the matter was--and then the rich who had access to the mediate and the means to get away would do so and the poor would be left behind to suffer just as they do now. In reality, the poor take the brunt of any disaster--they are disproportionately affected by such things because they lack the means to find out and the means to do anything at all about it even if they do find out. And I wonder what can be done. I suppose that what can be done must be done on a person by person basis. That is, those of us who have are responsible in some measure for those who have not. If I am fleeing to the mountains and my car can hold more than me, perhaps it is incumbent upon me to bring those who cannot so flee.

It is a problem without any easily recognized solution, but it strikes me that there should be something more we can do than stand ready to mop-up afterwards. And when I speak of we, I don't necessarily refer to a corporate body, but to individuals who have the means to make a difference.

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Speaking of Schism


One really must hand it to Episcopalian Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia. Recently he was quoted as saying that when it comes to a choice between heresy and schism, one should always choose heresy. In fact, whether we like it or not, one must at least respect the integrity of those who are in schism. Why would you want to hang around a Church that didn't have a handle on the truth as far as you were concerned? Why would you wish to consent to heresy--to secure integrity? Well, you might be integral in one sense (unified) but unified in error that condemns all. Why can't the leaders of Churches see and understand this? It is quite a sobering spectacle to see a Bishop condoning, indeed, for the sake of unity, encouraging, heresy. Thank goodness tonight we celebrate Him who makes all things One.

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In Mass today we had a visiting Priest who gave a stirring and wonderful homily directly in tune both with advent and with the Eucharistic Year. While he was speaking to us the woman directly in front of us spent the majority of the homily talking, albeit quietly into her cell phone. Has she no sense of priorities? Is she unaware of what her example teaches the three children she was with? If it were an emergency, why not take it outside the Church?

I don't know the nature or the meaning of the conversation; however, I will be praying especially hard for this woman and for her three children.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Critiques & Controversies category from December 2004.

Critiques & Controversies: November 2004 is the previous archive.

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