Monday, February 28, 2005


Give us real Christianity - no protestant shit!

I am not a Catholic - I've never been baptized - and neither were my parents until my father converted when I was well into my teens. Nevertheless, I attended Catholic primary school and every now and then - not every sunday - I would attend mass. Now, my hometown is a pretty dreadful backwater and perhaps it is because of that that I found the Church absolutely beautiful. And terrifying. During mass, I used to stare at the chiseled demons - depicting the seven sins, I believe - underneath the pulpit, wondering if they were real and hoping they were not, and at the stern faux-medieval imagery of penance and hope in the stained-glass windows, the grim-faced statues of saints, the panels depicting Jesus on the Via Dolorosa... Compared to the Catholic Church, the protestant churches in my town looked like the cafetaria of the local football club. But the Catholic Church let you into a world very different from the rest of the town - one so much bigger, so much more beautiful, and so much more frightening.

I have since been trying to read the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. I found it to be a generally boring archive of names and generations punctuated by moments of absolute brilliance. The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden is a beautiful metaphor for the way language, and self-awareness makes us human but also seperates us from the comforting fog of infancy and animalhood. But my favourite part must be the story of Abraham and Isaac. Anyway, why am I telling this?

I read on the Swedish tele-text - I haven't been able to confirm it through any internet source - that two of the main Danish parties are intending to make an introduction to Christianity and the Bible an obligatory part of primary education.

If this means supplanting Godless Evolution with some or another more Bible-friendly, theory - I'd be dead against it, obviously. If it is a desperate attempt to salvage the "Judeo-Christian" roots of Western European civilization from the non-abating flood of dark-skinned people heading our way - I'm against it, too. If the Abendland is to survive, it will only based on considerably more universal foundations. But if this measure has been taken because the Bible, and Christianity in general, has had such a stupendous, founding role in Western civilization that it is impossible to understand quite a bit of art and literature - not to speak of real, historical events, without a cursory knowledge of the Bible, I'm all for it.

The reason I'm ambivalent is that I don't think these three reasons are so neatly seperable.

Anyway, I'd have one condition. Any Biblical incursion into primary education must not be of the Protestant variety - whether we are talking about bleak, pallid "we're doomed anyway" Calvinism (ever wonder why it takes only roots in countries known for their terrible, nasty weather? The Netherlands, Scotland, Northern Scandinavia?), or the softie humanistic Dorothee Sölle-version of protestantism. If you're going to religion up your education, take a religion with priests who look like real priests - big and terrible and awe-inspiring. Not one where the priests look like social workers. Instead it should be founded upon Catholicism - meaning, the terrible and beautiful daemon-exorcising, incense-laden, ham-fisted-nun version of Catholicism. Not any of its odious decaf derivatives.

- Merlijn

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