14 March 2008

the Common Era

Until recently, I was unaware of the terms ‘common era’ and ‘before the common era,’ or C.E. and B.C.E. I grew up with B.C. and A.D., meaning ‘before Christ’ and ‘anno domini’ (in the year of our Lord, not ‘after death,’ because we would miss recording the years of Christ’s life). The two sets of time demarcations are the same; they represent the same event—Christ’s birth and subsequent life (as usually follows a birth)—but the former terms do not explicitly recognize the life of Jesus Christ. They do, however, conform to the system that does. So although intentionally secular, the use of C.E. and B.C.E. is self-defeating; by attempting to ‘take the religion’ out of this historical marking system, they (the people who use these Christless terms) acknowledge the religious significance of B.C and A.D. Just like when secular or non-Christian religious people get upset over the words “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance, “in God we trust” on our money, or the Ten Commandments displayed in courthouses and city centers; they concede religious value to material things, which, in the minds of some, validates the Christian claim. If, as some believe, there is no God, or Holy Trinity, or divine power of any kind, they would do better to ignore the Christian aspect of such things, because they are jut fueling the religious fire, and fighting a losing battle (here in a predominately Christian society, founded on Christian values). If someone rejects Christ as the son of God, and wants to refute His divinity, then treat B.C and A.D. not as the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, but as a convenient historical tool used to unify the many calendars of the Earth’s people.

No comments: