22 December 2005, 01:04
The Nativity of God
Crowds of Santa Clauses in the streets of American, European, Australian cities remind us, better than any calendar would, of the approaching feast which has long become a visiting card of the Western world and which has taken root even in the Islamic East.
Christ is coming to the world that is increasingly turning away from Him. According to the polls conducted by leading foreign mass media in the out-going year, only 59% of the English are going to celebrate Christmas in conformity with religious canons, that is, as the birthday of Jesus Christ, while for 40% of the British it is a secular holiday, and over half of the Spanish say religion is not very important for them.
Shy, as if afraid of ‘defiling’ the fir-tree with the name of God, America renames the Christmas tree into ‘the holiday tree’ and instead of wishing ‘Marry Christmas’ now sends ‘Season’s Greetings’.
The United States, who once spent so much ideological gun-power to break down the theomachist power, have now themselves taken the Bolshevik path, but through the court, thus getting rid of God in a "civilized" way. In one of such ‘good riddance’ cases the Ten Commandments were removed from the court building in Kentucky.
It may seem to an outside observer that those who more and more often become the architects of a new political culture in the Western are any religious organizations or even pseudo-religious organizations but those to whom Europe and America owe their own formation. Like the elderly mother of a family, who is treated by her ungrateful children with an ironic smile, the Christian Church, speaking in a failing voice in many countries today, tries to remind the world of herself.
A poll conducted by the Associated Press has shown that three thirds of the people in Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Spain and Mexico disapprove of the attempts of religious leaders to influence public policy. In Italy and South Korea, this figure is a little lower - two thirds. The greatest number of people who do not want to see the Church interfering in the affairs of the state live in Germany and France, their number amounting to 85%.
To bear witness to Christ in America or Western Europe today is not yet a feat but already a deed. The foreign mass media has repeatedly brought reports, strange by today’s Russian yardstick, that, say, a teacher was brought to court for reading the Bible in class, a dancing-master was sacked for using Christian music, while in France, which used to be ‘a favorite daughter of the Catholic Church’, people are prohibited from wearing large crosses.
This is the background against which Christmas will be again celebrated in this world in a few days. The Son of God will as ever be born regardless of the political fashion, because whatever name the American courts may give to the fir-tree, whatever greetings may be printed on postcards, however hard may be the attempts to rub out bas-relief commandments, the mystery of the Nativity occurs not in everyone’s full view but in the human heart. It will happen quietly and modestly, just as it did 2005 years ago.
And no doubt, there will be a great many of such hearts. Because there is also a different statistics showing that, for instance, the people of the United States are one of the most religious nations in the West, with 8 out of 18 polled saying they believe in God, while 9 out of 10 affirming that religion is an important part of their life. The level of religiosity in Orthodox Greece is 86%, it is almost the same in Romania and Poland (85%) and a little lower in Latin America (82%).
The list may be continued. But perhaps the most eloquent evidence to the fact that Christianity has struck root in the Western world much deeper than some politicians would like it, was the failure of the referendums on the European Constitution in which no reference was made to a special role played by this religions in the history of the continent. Without a spiritual foundation the common European house would have turned into a hostel in which strangers have to live close to one another…
Politicians have said almost nothing about it, but very many religious leaders have had their say. They are those who are to remind people all over again of the innermost meaning of one of the most important events in history to come very soon - to remind people of the event which has transformed the world and has lifted up the human being to the height unattainable by any achievement of the liberal society.