Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Of turkeys and dragons

Mark Pritchard, a member of Parliament in Britain, has a way with words. Unfortunately, not a very good way. He managed to come up with this metaphor: "Taking Christ out of Christmas is like serving the Christmas turkey without the stuffing."

He also said that it is "time for the dragon of political correctness to be slain."

His remarks came in a debate about whether there is widespread "Christianophobia" in the U.K.

While I am in favor of re-stuffing the turkey, so to speak, and slaying the aforementioned dragon, Mr. Pritchard — as well as Community Cohesion Minister Parmjit Dhanda — are barking up the wrong Christmas tree. (My own strained metaphor.)

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Mr. Dhanda's reported contribution to the debate includes, "
I fully recognise the full historical and cultural significance [of Christianity] in our country. We should all be aware of that and celebrate that."

Talking about "Christianophobia" is a lame attempt to score points using the same tactics as people who decry Islamophobia and homophobia. That is, claiming persecution by others who disagree with, or find distasteful, one's own religion or sexual orientation. It is probably true that Britain is largely a post-Christian country, but that isn't the same as persecution.

He can't find greeting cards with references to Christ or Advent? That may be regrettable, but it is very unlikely to be caused by any Christophobia. It is because there isn't much of a market for them. If there were, someone would produce and sell them.

Mr. Pritchard also says — I'd like to think this was just his little joke about subservience to minorities, but I don't get the impression he is that subtle — that Christians should get "full minority rights."

The trouble with this kind of argument is that it issues from the mouth of that dragon he wants slain. You Muslims think you're victims of prejudice? We Christians will show you what being victimized is! What next, a hate crime law for speaking against Christianity?

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As for Mr. Dhanda's remark, it may not be worth fussing too much over — just a feel-good formula you might expect from someone whose Stalinist title is
Community Cohesion Minister.

But it grates a little, too. "Historical and cultural significance" is just too wet a description of the religion that produced English mystics like
Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Julian of Norwich, and Margery Kempe — not to mention numerous clergy, religious scholars, saints and martyrs. Christians believe their religion is a guide to the ultimate mysteries of human life and the spirit. Mr. Dhanda makes it sound like a tattered but comfortable pair of slippers. Or an old wheeze that should get a pat on the back because "the religion had had a 'significant impact' in securing people's rights and freedoms" — a dubious proposition and one that suggests Christianity's importance was political.

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If Christianity is under attack in Britain, it's mainly from its own leaders, like the crack-brained Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who finds his sacred duty in criticizing American foreign policy and who is probably an atheist in all but name.

If Mr. Pritchard is serious about speaking up for Christianity, he might question whether a politicized A. of C. is living up to his responsibilities. But then, they're both politicians.

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