As anyone knows who has learned a foreign language, there are certain idioms and ideas that cannot be exactly translated. The words we use are important to capture the ideas we think.
With this in mind, I was interested to read a recent Breakpoint commentary by Chuck Colson entitled "The Triumph of Ideology." He describes changes to the 2007 Oxford Junior Dictionary:
Gone were words like “coronation,” “willow,” and “goldfish.” In their place were words like “MP3 player,” “blog,” and “biodegradable.”
Not surprisingly, words reflecting Britain’s Christian heritage were especially hard hit: “abbey, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, monk, nun, pew, saint,” and “sin” were all axed. Even Christmas took a hit: “carol,” “holly,” and “mistletoe” were removed.
In their place, kids got “tolerant,” “interdependent,” and “bilingual.”
Saunders is concerned that eliminating “so many words associated with Christianity will have a big effect on the numerous primary schools who use it.”
That’s exactly the idea. The head of the children’s dictionary at Oxford University Press admitted as much. She said that “the environment has changed.” “We are also much more multicultural,” she added. And she said that “people don’t go to Church as often as before” and “our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism.”
In other words, we judge our religion by our ideology—in this case, multiculturalism—not vice-versa.
It's a little scary. Just yesterday my daughter was telling me about a classroom debate where *Christians* were seen as the enemy, ready to convert people by force and/or spouting wild-eyed anti-scientific, anti-tolerant, condemning pronouncements. This from kids who are largely from church-going, or at least birth-Christian, households. Now, we are losing even the vocabulary to describe the religious underpinnings that have built Western civilization.
How has the culture moved so far from the true Christianity that preaches forgiveness, tolerance, grace, and above all, Love? Where did we lose our understanding of God as Holy, Just, but also sacrificial and not willing that any should perish? Why do we think that belief in God means a desertion of one's intellect?
I don't know.
There is a story of a woman walking along the ocean's shoreline the day after a terrific storm. She keeps leaning over to toss one starfish after another back into the water. Her companion says, "Why do you bother? There's no way that you can save all of these creatures."
Tossing another starfish back, the woman says, "Well, it made all the difference for that one." Another toss. "And that one."
We also must toss starfish back, one at a time, within our small domains of influence. We can't stem the tide, but for the individual, it might make the difference.
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