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April 26, 2005

Anti-Christian bigotry rips into the calendar

From the Ass. Press:

In a world encouraged to embrace differences, B.C. and A.D. are increasingly finding themselves on the wrong end of the religious sensitivity meter.

Educators and historians say schools from North America to Australia have been changing the terms Before Christ to Before Common Era and anno Domini (Latin for "year of the Lord") to Common Era. In short, they're referred to as B.C.E. and C.E....

Although most calendars are based on an epoch or person, B.C. and A.D. have always presented a particular problem for historians: There is no year zero.

"When Jews or Muslims have to put Christ in the middle of our calendar ... that's difficult for us," said Steven Brown, dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. "They are hard for non-Jews, because they assume a centrality of Jesus ... it's not offensive, but it's not sensitive to my religious sensibilities."

Well, let's start with the idea of a religion free calendar. What are we going to call the months of the year which are named after Roman gods? What are we going to call the days of the week, all of which are named after Norse gods? Is it just Christian references that are offensive? Isn't that pretty intolerant? I thought we were working toward a more tolerant culture

Next let's look at the silliness the Ass. Press does next. Michael Gormley is who is credited with writing the story. Michael, by the way, is a Hebrew name, lakym, meaning “who is like God”. Mike complains that the Gregorian calendar is inadequate because it lacks a year zero. And we all know how handy zero is when it comes to calendars. What were you doing on the 0th of April? Or the 0th day of the year? There is no ordinal zero. The use of zero in numbering and counting (as opposed to quantity) was only begun when computer programmers decided to number their manuals the same way they handled the quantitative numbers they programmed with. It's not necessary; we're just used to seeing it.

Changing BC to BCE makes as much sense as when Prince changed his already silly name to an unpronounceable symbol. We were all really impressed with that, weren't we. As for Jews getting in a tizzy over it — I still haven't figured out why or when Judaism changed to mean “anything that's not Christian”

 UPDATE: While several media outlets reported the story, only NewsMax carried an additional line following the bit about the absence of the year zero, adding that there was a 33 year gap. I emailed them to tell them of both errors and got the following reply:

Danny,

I'm very well aware that the author of that article made a glaring error. I've already discussed this with our editor and have been told that unless AP changes their version, we don't have the right to alter our copy of it either, and neither does anybody else. As far as I know, AP has not corrected their copy yet....

Rod Julianus
Webmaster
NewsMax.com

Apparently the AP made some corrections because NewsMax's story now omits both the 33-year gap part as well as the year zero part. The Houston Chronicle, which I linked to above, still has the erroneous whine about the need for a year zero.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 26, 2005 10:38 AM

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