About a year ago, a traveling exhibition of The Dead Sea Scrolls went on display at the local museum near where I live. These early manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible dated as far back as the 3rd century before Christ and are the second oldest known manuscripts of the type in existence. The finding of these scrolls was a truly remarkable discovery. I figured it would be fascinating to see these in person, so I sauntered on down to the museum to spend the afternoon perusing them.
Immediately upon entering the exhibit, I noticed the museum placards describing various artifacts and scroll fragments were all listed in the ridiculous Before Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE) notations. At first I was borderline amused, which quickly turned into extreme annoyance. A museum placard at the beginning of the exhibit explained with politically correct reasoning that the museum did not want to upset those people viewing the exhibit that might be offended by the notations of Before Christ (BC) and Anno Domini (AD) [Latin for “in the year of our Lord”].
I would bet that anyone that was interested in coming to see these scrolls which were a part of the Hebrew Bible (aka part of the Old Testament) would probably not be offended by the non-secular “BC” and “AD” notations. While I had been aware of the ever-encroaching foolishness of political correctness manifesting itself in hyper secularism, this really sent me over the edge and made my teeth itch. Had the most remarkable religious discovery of the 20th century fallen victim to politically correct secularism?
Secularism. What the hell is that? It is not necessarily the same thing as atheism, although the two often go together like the ACLU and hypocrisy. Secularism, in the classical understanding of the term, is used to mean those things that dealt with earthly matters or the temporal order. Today, the term seems to be used in the context of an absence of religious belief or participation thereof. Indeed in the modern era, seemingly more and more people embrace a type of purely self-sufficient humanism – a secularism aimed at one’s material flourishing without any consideration whatsoever of a transcendent order and reality. And that in and of itself is fine with me, if such is a person’s choice. More power to him or her. After all, we still live in a free country – well, kind of anyway.
That said, America as a nation was founded with an acknowledgement of our “firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence” and those most precious inalienable rights bestowed upon us not by the government, but by our Creator; thus states our Declaration of Independence. Regardless, the idea was that Americans could worship as they choose, in public and indeed in government buildings and institutions, or they could choose not to do so. Today, with the rise of this seeming virulent secularism, some twisted notion that faith should never intrude into the public arena seems to be the rule of the day.
And so we see this infectious secularism now spreading to a historical religious exhibit at the local museum in the guise of BCE and CE notations. This is really nothing more than a mere change of a name. It is as if some secularist decided, “Don’t bring this Lord stuff into the debate!” Okay. Fine, but then tell me, what is the single defining event that separates BC and the silly BCE from AD and the sillier CE? Is it not the birth of Christ regardless of the terms? I suppose if one were to ask some quasi-scientist or politically correct historian what was The Event that delineated BCE from CE, he could shuffle his feet and mumble something about a non-theologically significant event --- or he could tell you about Christ.
Whether one accepts the divinity of Christ or not, the historical fact of His existence and the undeniable fact that He changed the history of the world since His human incarnation is the lone event that ends the era “Before Christ” and ushers in the era “In the Year of Our Lord”. The changing of the names of the eras to something that is politically correct does nothing to change the actual event that delineates those eras. Rather it simply points out in glaring fashion the degrees to which secularism has ascended in our Western culture today.
The BC/AD to BCE/CE debacle is only one small thread in this new secularist tapestry being woven by many of the politically correct and secular humanists today. There are other issues on the secularist’s loom that they are trying to remake too. For example, a denial of our country’s history and its founding as a Christian nation is a pervasive meme found taught by many of higher academia’s teachers today. Even President Obama has insisted in the past that we are not necessarily a Christian nation.
The secularist’s axiom seems to be as science and reason spread, religious belief will wane. The notion that science and faith are inextricably linked seems like an utter impossibility to the secularist, and any mention of God or faith in the public sphere is something to be shunned lest it lead society backwards into the dark ages of superstition and the supernatural.
Because of these new ideals, public prayer or Christmas nativity displays are often banned in many cities today. And yet debauchery is on display in some of those same cities with gay pride parades and the like where members openly mock Christ and those things that a majority of Americans still consider sacred. Even during the Christmas season, it is often seen as an affront to PC Secularists to wish someone “Merry Christmas!” instead of the more benign and ambiguously indifferent “Happy Holidays”.
And what have we gained by this metastasizing secularism? Are we a kinder, more generous and caring people because of this? Is ours a society that strives to take care of the least of our brothers and sisters in desperate need? Or do we simply focus on the humanistic secularism that says we must “get ours first and foremost” in a Darwinian survival of the fittest?
It has generally been my experience that those people whom are the most militant in their secularism are often times the most disagreeable and abrasive of souls too. They seem to be very unhappy, and indeed how could they not be? If one believes in nothing more than materialism and temporal matters alone, how could one be truly happy? Love, beauty, and life itself are not magnificent gifts from God to the militant humanist secularist. They are subjective things to be used as tools for a means to an end to further one’s earthly gains. With such an outlook, I suppose I would be grumpy and acerbic too!
Unfortunately though, it is not enough that they alone hold this merely as a personal opinion. Rather, it becomes incumbent upon them to spread this secularist mindset to all of society so that nobody might be offended by God, His son Jesus, or religion at all.
Myself having once traveled down an atheistic, if not secular road before, I found life to be very unfulfilling. It was lacking in purpose – in meaning – and certainly in true agape love. My heart was restless and often very saddened until, through God’s grace and mercy, I eventually was lead back to Him. Indeed I pray that this secularism is nothing more than a trend that will eventually pass like a strong winter storm. In its passing, we will once again come into the Spring of God’s blessings and perhaps many of those lost secularists will return or perhaps for the first time come into Christ’s fold. Their need to replace or wipe away any vestige of things that are overtly religious or even having religious connotations, such as replacing BC and AD with secularist substitutions in our museums, will no longer be necessary for them. Perhaps these would-be secularists can then finally find some semblance of peace. St. Augustine said it best regarding God, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in you.”