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Friday, February 13, 2009

Starfish

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.

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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.

4 comments:

Andra M. said...

As one who loves the written word and language in general, the removal of any word from a dictionary offends me.

The logic part of me scratches my head. The words they took out are still used today.

You're right, though. It's more evidence of people attempting to remove Christianity from our world.

I couldn't agree more the best we can do is fight against it within our sphere of influence, especially our children.

Billy Coffey said...

Great post, Amy. I think that in many European countries, the tide has maybe become too great to turn aside. That's such a sad thing to say given that Christianity was born in the Middle East but "grew up" in countries such as Britain, France, and Germany.

I see some of that going on here, but I also see many good people fighting against it. When will people learn that trying to please everyone will always please no one?

Travis said...

We will be effective again once we get past the idea that we need to wait on the Lord to return. I fear that many Christians are secretly hoping that things will get worse and that will prompt the return.

So, we create a self fullfilling prophecy. Things get worse because we don't engage the culture.

And so it continues. But, I guess this comment isn't really in tandem with your origional intent of the post.

Jessica Thomas said...

As far as the dictionary, all I can say is, "Wow." I'll say it again. "Wow." Disturbing. Why remove those words? Why not just leave them in and have a more complete dictionary? That's disturbing.

I like Chuck Colson.

I think Christians need to keep fighting in the US. But, we need to remember who our enemy is. It's the evil one, not the people who have been confused by him.

I have been trying and trying to get through to some of my postmodern humanist friends. They just don't get it. There is a great divide. I'm not sure how to get through to them or if it is even possible, but I'm sure I will keep trying.

Travis, I agree we shouldn't wait on the Lord to return. We should be ready for Him, but not assume He is going to return in our lifetimes. However, at some point, I believe society's "heart" will become so hardened, that no matter what a Christian says or does we will be viewed as a bad lot. I have been studying relativism in recent months, and that's where it leads. The bad guys are the ones who say there is absolute truth. ( If you're interested, I wrote a blog series in my old blog as part of my ongoing effort to try to reach postmodern thinkers: http://jdog-ink.blogspot.com/2008/12/i-want-to-be-sheep-part-1-of.html )

It's a sad commentary, but I believe Jesus warned us this would happen so we would not get discouraged.