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the editor: pan. drakopoulos
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 Issue 3, December the 22nd, 2004

NEWS for All of Us

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory pour’d
Who is the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Blest,
Holiest of Holies, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest,
The lights of evening round us shine,
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Divine.

Worthiest art Thou at all times to be sung with undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, Giver of life, Alone!
Therefore in all the world Thy glories, Lord, they own.

We wish you Merry Christmass and a Happy New Year!


So this is Winterfest... and what happened to Christ?
Source: Irish Independent

It's surprising that there is still a crib on O'Connell Street each year. It's surprising that the new puritans of secularism have not yet managed to ban it in the name of 'pluralism'.

It just goes to show that a little common sense still manages to prevail here.

In America the new puritans have gone much further. Oliver Cromwell, the ideological forebear of the modern lot, managed to ban Christmas altogether.

His successors are getting there.

It may seem strange to compare Cromwell, a religious man, with the secularists who want to wipe the public square clean of all traces of religion.

But, of course, what they have in common is their drive towards an ideological purity that allows for none of the usual 'messiness' of life.

In the context we're talking about here, that means cribs in public places.

In America it goes to the extent of wishing to ban the very word 'Christmas' itself from public usage. They have almost succeeded in this as well.

Just in the last week or so we had the absurdity of a local paper in Kansas apologising for referring to a 'Christmas tree' rather than a 'community tree' in one of its articles.

The 'community tree', by the way, is put up to celebrate the 'Winterfest'. Obviously it isn't being put up to celebrate Christmas because that word can no longer be used.

On a lesser scale, but significant enough all the same, we have RTE relegating religion to a sub-category of 'diversity'. (Why not do that to politics?) This has earned a rebuke from Bishop Joe Duffy who oversees the Catholic Communications Office.

In addition, RTE is to broadcast over Christmas a mere five hours of religious-oriented programmes on TV.

A new book by a member of the Mercy Sisters shows how the secularising urge can work, perhaps without even intending it to.

The book, Out of Wonder: The Evolving Story of the Universe, is a sort of spiritual history of evolution. Strangely for a book by a member of a Christian religious order, it makes hardly any mention of Christianity. You might have thought that for someone who is a Christian, the coming of Christ would be the foremost event in the evolving story of the universe and no doubt for this nun it is.

It seems a strange oversight though, that's all.

But Sr McLaughlin, the author of the book, has also fallen into the habit of using 'BCE' as a substitute for 'BC', and 'CE' as a substitute for 'AD'. These acronyms are becoming increasingly common in history books, although it seems odd to find them in a book by a nun.

Perhaps she is trying to offend no one.

The letters BC, as everyone knows, stand for 'Before Christ'. The letters AD stand for 'Anno Domini', meaning the 'Year of Our Lord'.

BCE stands for 'Before the Common Era', while CE stands for the 'Common Era'.

Putting the best interpretation upon it, the drive to push Christmas from the public square, and to replace BC and AD with BCE and CE, is explained by a desire to be as inclusive as possible of all beliefs.

Of course, a lot of the time the true motivation is anti-religious bigotry, but let's go with the kinder interpretation for the moment because, even judged in this way, we are dealing here with a campaign to deny who we are, and a transparently absurd one at that.

For example, someone has only to ask what the 'X' in 'Xmas' stands for to find him or herself back at its Christian origin. Someone has only to ask where the 'community tree' comes from to find its origin both in Christian and, if some are to be believed, in earlier pagan times.

But one way or the other, the origin of the Christmas tree is religious. Why deny that?

Matters become even more transparent when we come to attempts to popularise the usage of BCE and CE. What do we say to someone who asks what the 'Common Era' is, when it began, and why it began? How do you answer this question without mentioning Christ?

When a civilisation begins to deny itself, we know it is dying. Some might say it is merely renewing itself.

In the case of Europe, however, our shrivelled birth rates prove that this is not the case. Denying the roots of Christmas is a symptom of a much deeper problem.

Turkey could be in the EU within 10 years. By then it ought to have by far the biggest population of any EU country. Its birth rate is twice that of Germany's, for example.

Turkey is an overwhelmingly Muslim country and its likely entry into the EU was used as one of the arguments against including a mention of Christianity in the new EU constitution.

Interestingly, a Muslim academic in Italy believes this was a mistake. His comments made the front pages in that country a few weeks ago. Khaled Fouad Allam, an Algerian by birth, stated it categorically: "Europe is in debt to Christianity because, like it or not, that is what has given it its form, meaning and values. Denying all this means, for Europe, denying itself."

He says that there is no contradiction between acknowledging the Christian (and Jewish, Greek and Roman) roots of Europe, and respecting the beliefs and traditions of others. If a Muslim can see this, why can't the EU?