Yes, but the Maori weren’t always Christian…

Prior to 1769, they faithfully followed the beliefs and traditions of their ancestors. They’re only Christian now because European explorers wound up there and radically changed their lives and the course of their future. The “focal role of Christian faith in Maori and Pacific culture” and the cultures of immigrants hardly matters in this case.

What’s the case? I’m coming to it. I’ve started an argument at the end of an article rather than the beginning. That said, it was a relevant point to make and a good place to start, actually.

The article in question started out promising. Jeff Tallon writes,

The Australian curriculum authority has ruled that the terms AD and BC are out of date and out of bounds for secondary schools.

AD has always stood for Anno Domini, “In the year of our Lord” and BC, “Before Christ.” I say it’s about damn time they move to “Common Era” and “Before Common Era” even if that doesn’t seem as clear cut as the old way. Unfortunately, Tallon thinks the authority is making a grave mistake.

In a world besieged by political correctness it was bound to happen and remains bound to happen in this country – unless we see sense.

He follows this alteration to (he admits) a daft conclusion. If we change this, then what’s next? We call our calendar Gregorian after Pope Gregory who is directly responsible for the implementing of it (in 1582, by the way, and an interesting chunk of history worth reading). We can’t exactly stop using this calendar because it’s the most accurate one available and we can’t exactly rename it to “Western” because we tend to think about religious ideologies by directions as well. Western religion, Eastern religion. It can’t be called the Greenwich calendar either because the Greenwich Observatory was set up by scientific European Christians in 1675. Maybe we have to dump science on the whole because of its roots in Christianity, too. And while we’re at it, we should scrap Bach and his “Glory to God” music and dump jazz because of its roots in ‘Christian “negro spirituals”‘.

I’ll interject here on the subject of science. Scientific discovery may have originated in monasteries and the like but the laws uncovered by those early thinkers are universal in nature and apply to everyone regardless of creed or belief system. In terms of the music, Bach’s compositions are beautiful regardless of his religious leanings and it isn’t necessary to know he dedicated his work to God in order to enjoy them. In terms of jazz, there wouldn’t be Christian negro spirituals had Christian Europeans done more to keep slaves unequal. Obviously I’m not saying that would have been the preferred move, I’m just saying.

In the West Indies, for example, some plantation owners were appalled at the notion of sharing their religion with heathens. Unfortunately for them, the missionaries were very successful, often denouncing the barbaric practices of plantation owners, and Christianity was an easy sell to folks who already had a monotheistic faith of their own and a desperate need for salvation after death. Christianity did those slaves a world of good compared to what their future would have held otherwise. The article I linked to also mentions the successful slave uprising in Haiti at the time, nothing those in the West Indies were keen to experience firsthand.

Getting back to the article, Tallon makes the point that we often name things after people (Gregory’s calendar, Newton’s law of gravity, Watt’s measurement of energy) and there’s nothing wrong with naming things after people; in fact, it’s (usually) a well-deserved honour. Therefore, he argues, we should continue to honour Christ in our language because without him we wouldn’t have the benefits of Christianity.

Okay, true enough, I’ll concede. Keep Christmas named Christmas. It doesn’t cause any harm. Whole chunks of the world don’t celebrate it, nor should they have to, but it’s a religious observance for Christians and a secular holiday for countless others. The name of the day only matters to those who need it to matter, frankly. But, when it comes to AD and BC, it kind of does matter. It’s inaccurate in a world where not everyone believes in that particular Lord. It’s ridiculous to continue to measure the days by the life of a man whom so many have never followed and never will. It’s an affectation from a bygone Christian European-dominated age and it needs to go. Common Era and Before Common Era is a lot more secular and a lot more fair to all faiths because of that. The Australian curriculum authority has made the right move in ridding secondary schools of AD and BC. Everyone else ought to as well.

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