As we move into year six of the "biotech century," it's worth reminding ourselves how we got this way of counting years in the first place. The fight between "Christmas" and "the holidays" is secondary, though the secularizers don't seem to realize that. Behind it lies the vise-like grip of Christian revelation on the calendar.
It was Jesus' birth that set the clock running for the modern world's idea of time. Every brief filed and op-ed written by those who want to strip religion from our public life is dated by the Christian calendar. We are now into 2006 Anno Domini"in the year of Our Lord." And while the secularizers of the mid-20th century have convinced a lot of people to use C.E./B.C.E. (Common Era, Before Common Era) in place of A.D./B.C., the joke really is on them. Guess why this is the Common Era? The secularizers have to live with that fact. He who sits in heaven laughs.
This isn't just another jab from our side in the culture wars. It's a reminder of the extraordinary and pervasive influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and specifically its Christian manifestation, on the life of the world. This is nowhere more clear (though often unnoticed) than in the impact of the "Enlightenment," with its notions of human rights and human dignity. At the core of this enormously important 18thcentury intellectual movement lay the rejection of revealed religion. Yet, in the providence of God, part of its effect was to translate Christian values into public language, which in today's largely secularized public square is powering the fight for freedom of religion, democracy, and the dignity of women around the world.
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, perhaps the most influential document of the 20th century, ...1