Monthly Archives: December 2013

Christian West & Science

“For the last two millennia, there has been no aspect of Western existence that hasn’t borne upon it the indelible impress of the Christian religion.”global_67838642.jpeg Jack Kerwick, PhD

“It is the Western world within the sciences first emerged and where they continue to flourish is no coincidence.” Ibid.

“The very (scientific) enterprise at which the scientist makes his living would have been unthinkable in the absence of the religious faith that he now ignores, and—far too frequently—disdains.” Ibid.

“It is the consensus among the contemporary historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science that real science arose only once: in Europe.” Rodney Stark, Forthe Glory of God, p. 126, 127

“Christians developed science because they believed it could be done, and should be done.  As Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) put it during one of his Lowell Lectures at Harvard in 1925, science arose in Europe because of the widespread ‘faith in the possibility of science…derivative from medieval theology.’” Ibid., p. 147

Our Christian Civilization

Jack Kerwick, The New American.com, December 12, 2012

A group that refers to itself as the “Arkansas Society of Freethinkers” is not in the Christmas spirit. When it caught wind of the fact that Little Rock, Arkansas’ Terry Elementary School had arranged for its students to attend a stage performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at a local church, it began to eye the school up for a lawsuit.

Inasmuch as one of its key characters quotes the Gospel of Luke, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” you see, has an explicitly religious theme.

That there is no such “separation” clause in the U.S. Constitution has long been established. Yet this episode is telling not because it reveals the atheist’s ignorance of the Constitution. Rather, it is telling insofar as it reveals his ignorance of his cultural inheritance.

The great Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc famously declared that “the faith is Europe and Europe is the faith.” We can paraphrase him by saying just as assuredly that Christianity is the West and the West is Christianity.

It is true that the Western mind is indebted to classical, pre-Christian Greek and Roman sources, but even here, it is primarily to Christian men of learning that we owe thanks for resurrecting and restoring to European civilization the lost riches of antiquity.

For the last two millennia, there has been no aspect of Western existence that hasn’t borne upon it the indelible impress of the Christian religion. Continue reading

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Important If True

“A sardonic British skeptic of the late 19th century suggested that three words should be carved in stone over all church doors: ‘Important if true.’  On Christmas eve, at the end of the rarely stately and always arduous march that Americans make each year to the happiest holiday, it sometimes seems that they are supposed to celebrate Christmas as though they have agreed to forget what supposedly it means.”  George Will

Christmas: Important If True

Rubel Shelly, RubelShelly.com, November 17, 2013

One of the most challenging pieces I have read around the Christmas season recently came from George F. Will. On the day before Christmas two years ago, heKingdom Without an End wrote this in his syndicated newspaper column:

A sardonic British skeptic of the late 19th century suggested that three words should be carved in stone over all church doors: “Important if true.” On Christmas Eve, at the end of the rarely stately and always arduous march that Americans make each year to the happiest holiday, it sometimes seems that they are supposed to celebrate Christmas as though they have agreed to forget what supposedly it means.

There are several reasons why forgetting, actual or make-believe, is not altogether unfortunate. First, some people really have forgotten, or never knew, or never cared about Christmas’s religious dimension but they can still enjoy, and benefit from, the seasonal upsurge of nonsectarian goodwill. Second, many Americans are of faiths that
assert Christianity is mistaken about what occurred in Palestine 1,998 years ago, and in the 33 or so years hereafter.[1]

This is another of those instances in which a “secular” writer gets closer to the truth of a spiritual topic than many preachers and theologians can.

The Four Gospels affirm that God was incarnate in Jesus, and two (i.e., Matthew and Luke) give details of his miraculous conception and birth. It is all the more interesting to realize that one of the writers most interested in Jesus’ birth was a physician whose training and experience would have inclined him to deny the possibility of a virginal conception. Careful historian that we now know Luke to have been, he investigated the matter thoroughly and affirmed that Jesus of Nazareth was born to a young woman who was a virgin. Continue reading

Bach Is Out

“About 10 years ago, these school events [celebrating Christmas on public property] were completely stripped of any religious symbolism and rebranded as ‘winter concerts,’ most likely because ‘holiday’ was just too close for comfort to the original ‘holy day.’” Paul H. Tice

“Much of the music is simply bad; mindless melodies and meaningless lyrics, whether saccharine and syncopated or somber and staccato.  To ignore the significant body of church music composed to celebrate Christmas—from English carols to Bach cantatas to the full oratorio of Handel—borders on musical malpractice, even if it is motivated by fear of the ACLU.” Ibid

The Christmas Pageant as a GapKids Ad

‘Silent Night’ has been silenced. There’s no room for religion at the school ‘winter concert.’

Paul H. Tice, The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2013, p. A 17

‘Tis the season for “the war on Christmas” stories, with widely reported fights over the placement of manger scenes on public property and legal wrangling over other aspects of the national holiday that dares not speak its name. Less attention will be paid to one of the war’s major casualties: what used to be known as the school Christmas concert. Parents, though, are all too familiar with the silencing of “Silent Night.”

Over the past 20 years as my children have progressed through the local New Jersey public-school system, my wife and I have attended our share of such concerts. We’ve watched as these performances have slowly declined, arriving at the current phase: denial. It has now been several years since the word “Christmas” has even been spoken, let alone sung, at any of these school events.

In the 1990s, it was still considered safe to celebrate Christmas on public-school property, but even then only as part of a cavalcade of year-end holidays. A sort of holiday fairness doctrine was employed to give equal airtime to Christmas and any other proximate holiday falling between Thanksgiving Day and Groundhog Day, whether religious in nature (Hanukkah) or not. While administratively challenging, during this period of relative calm it was still possible to hear the occasional “O Little Town of Bethlehem” or “Away in a Manger” at these holiday concerts. Continue reading

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