Christmas isn’t Christmas, and other surprises

November 23, 2012

Finding silliness in religion-related journalism is almost as easy as finding silliness in science-related journalism, but, even so, this half-baked article from The Telegraph qualifies as an unusually egregious example. The article is occasioned by the publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s third volume on the life of Christ, which is devoted to the infancy narratives in the Gospels.

The Telegraph is aghast at the scandalous revelations that have dripped from the pen of the pontiff! To wit:

“The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years,” the Pope writes in the book, which went on sale around the world with an initial print run of a million copies.

“The actual date of Jesus’s birth was several years before.”

[...]

“Christ’s birth date is not the only controversy raised by the Pope in his new book – he also said that contrary to the traditional Nativity scene, there were no oxen, donkeys or other animals at Jesus’s birth.”

[...]

“The idea that Christ was born on Dec 25 also has no basis in historical fact.”

To an audience ignorant of Christian history I can see that this might be somewhat surprising, but that any of it has the authentic whiff of scandal is ridiculous. The folks at Get Religion have written a good commentary, which I recommend.

The same Telegraph article repeats the old story about the date of Christmas being related to pagan festivals. As I always do when this comes up, I will recommend a good article by William Tighe that was published a few years ago in Touchstone; it deserves wide exposure. (I notice the Get Religion commentary also links to it, which is great.)

*

Apparently not picking up on the absurdity of the Telegraph article, our very own National Post has piled on with an opinion column (by Kelly McParland) proposing that the Pope’s book provides the Church with an “excuse” to move her celebration of Christmas from December 25 to some other date when it won’t interfere with everyone else’s celebration of … something or other.

If this is a good idea, then I have another: we should move the date of New Years out of deference to those who do not observe the Western calendar but who love to stay up late singing “Auld Lang Syne” ten days or so after the winter solstice.

About these ads

3 Responses to “Christmas isn’t Christmas, and other surprises”

  1. Janet Says:

    When I read that Telegraph article the other day, I thought it was going to be the best laugh I had all week. I mean, I sat giggling for 5 minutes over, “But the fact that doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition have been raised by the leader of the world’s one billion Catholics is striking.” But “proposing that the Pope’s book provides the Church with an “excuse” to move her celebration of Christmas from December 25 to some other date when it won’t interfere with everyone else’s celebration of … something or other,” is ten times better. Augh! What’s scary is that a lot of people my think this is a good idea.

    I’m all for moving New Year’s Day to the first Sunday of Advent.

    AMDG

  2. Janet Says:

    This one is because I forgot to check the box that send me follow-up comments.

  3. cburrell Says:

    I would support moving New Year’s to that date as well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 148 other followers

%d bloggers like this: