Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Christ, Holy Week, Western Media, and the Calendar

The web blog Ex occidente ad orientem has a timely entry on Western media's fixation with all things denigrating to Christianity. Many years ago I noticed that whenever a major Christian Holy Day was approaching, suddenly the 'more intellectual and scientific, historical' stations (mainly, though not exclusively cable) were awash with 'discovery' programs on the 'true' story behind this or that Christian belief. As a student of history, not just as a son of the Church, my reaction generally fluctuates between amused to outraged at the historic inaccuracies, scientific sleight of hand, and relativistic materialism proffering a more culturally sound and significant assessment in blatant attempts to deny anything and everything Christian. The fact various scandals have not only been brought to light but fairly well heated to the point of burnt toast has also contributed to a seeming hunger among many people for such programming. (Certainly, if this scandal is true, this 'fair and objective' program revealing 'the truth' about x must also be true!)

In the entry It's that time of year again, blog host Chris presents a compelling argument not only for turning off the TV but also for distancing oneself and one's Church from the National Council of Churches. Below is the first paragraph of his assessment.

...when the media gives us all sorts of articles and "insights" as to what really happened during Holy Week and what Christ's Resurrection "really means." More often than not, we are bombarded by scholarly opinions about how current Christian observance of Holy Week and Pascha are misguided and are mere inventions of third century totalitarian bishops (read, Pope of Rome, which is, of course a historical anachronism) wishing to impose an orthodoxy that was at odds with the beliefs and faith of MOST of the world's Christians. Also, at this time, such ecumenical groups as the National Council of Churches laments that the observance of Western Christians and Eastern Christians is, with the exception of this year and next, most often on differing dates. So, the NCC, with its obvious respect to the traditions of other Christian confessions, says that we must all observe Pascha of the Lord on the same date so as not to give a divided witness. In fact, you can read their most current press release about that very issue here.
It is a compelling argument in that the calendar question should really be resolved not only by Orthodox, but Eastern Catholics, and indeed Roman Catholics as well. One can argue that Pope Gregory did the world a favor by promulgating a more 'accurate' calendar, but the question is one of belief. Perhaps at the time of its promulgation the Pope thought everyone would just fall in line and there would be not problem (near sightedness if there was ever such a case); but in the light of twenty-first century clarity reveals that one of the major divisions between the Orthodox East and Roman West includes calendar related issues it seem to this issue could be settled by the Holy Father of Rome simply making a declaration that would put the Catholic Church in concordance with the Orthodox Church at least regarding Pascha.

I have always argued that for the Orthodox and Eastern Churches it should be either fish or fowl: Either embrace the "New Style" Calendar in its entirety or stay en toto with the Julian Calendar. The older I get and the more commercialization of Christian Feasts by Western consumerism, the more I favor the Old Style Calendar. Let Pascha be Pascha, not an "Easter and Spring Sale" opportunity.

To read the entire It's that time of year again, click here.

I may add references to a couple of very interesting arguments debating theological preference for the Old Calendar in the near future.

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