Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Dating and Political Correctness

L'Osservatore Romano; criticises the BBC for wanting to "erase all traces of Christianity from Western culture". I agree with Dylan the headline is a bit over the top, though I agree that it is regrettable act on the part of BBC.
Actually it is about the decision of the BBC to move from BC and AD to BCE and CE. The idea of the Common Era was introduced in the late nineteenth century by Jewish scholars, who obviously didn't want to say the Christ, the Messiah had come. I have a sympathy with them.
The problem is that use of the term "Common Era" is also problematic, if I were Chinese or Indian or from one of the ancient African civilisations, "Common Era" would smack of Western Imperialism, even more than BC and AD, it would not be my common era.
Being a little flippant why not have a choice of dates, the Jewish, "since the Creation of the World" the Muslim "since the Prophet", or we could use all those dating systems in the Christmas martyrology: Olympiads and so forth, or "since the Emperor ...." or "in the reign of ...". The problem is we would, if we are politically correct and inclusive we would spend reams of paper merely writing the date.

The problem is, and this my point, that merely for society to function we need to make assumptions; as for dates, so too for morality. Without these assumption we end up in an anarchic mess. I think this is what the Pope was saying when he spoke in Germany about Law and the rejection of the Divine Law reducing the Nazi government to a band of robbers.


Andrew Leach said...

The BBC's own blog at says: The BBC tells the paper [the Daily Mail] it has not issued editorial guidance on the issue: "Both AD and BC, and CE and BCE are widely accepted date systems and the decision on which term to use lies with individual production and editorial teams."

So to tar the whole BBC with a brush which is actually wielded by external production houses may not be entirely right.

That said, the BBC could mandate the use of BC/AD, but it chooses to allow some editorial independence. Or perhaps people could choose to make the "CE" mean "Christian Era" as well as "Common Era". Everyone wins.

Evagrius Ponticus said...


The big problem with this is, the BBC haven't mandated a change at all. It's down to the programme makers individually what they use. See the BBC's response to the news story:

We should of course challenge dechristianisation, but going after things like this does not exactly aid the cause.

Michael1 said...

Interestingly, in school work the BCE and CE usage has been normal for quite a few years among Religious Studies teachers but seems much less common elsewhere, for instance in History. Most school religious studies textbooks have adopted the new usage.

Louis said...

I don't think the Chinese are remotely bothered by "CE". The Chinese government adopted the Gregorian calendar as the official calendar on the 1 January 1912. CE is just regarded as an international system, albeit Christian in origin, for marking time.

In the ROC there is a dual method of counting the years, CE and the year of the Republic. In the PRC (continental China) CE has been the standard form since 1949.

The luni-solar Chinese calendar was abolished for official use. What some folks call "Chinese New Year" is now officially known as the "Spring Festival".

nickbris said...

The barmy lot in charge at the moment have great plans,the only fly in the ointment is Christianity so that has to be marginalised as much as possible.

That shoe fetishist posing as a Minister wants to do away with Human Rights,another bunch would be rid of the Treaty of Maastricht.

The Treaty of Vienna is under threat because Diplomats are not paying Parking Tickets,the Geneva Convention can go and we can start torturing "enemy belligerants"

Mr Hitler started off by tinkering with traditions like ritually killed animals and that led to boycotting of certain businesses until the crescendo of mass exterminations.

Patruus said...

We are told that Common Era, in its Latin form (Vugaris Aerae), was introduced by Kepler in 1615 [1].

We are also informed that Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Institute, has said: 'I don't know anyone who has been offended by AD and BC, so why change them?'[2]

There are sensible reasons for abandoning AD/BC [3] and sensible reasons for retaining them [4].

If it is the case that Political Correctness is the main motivating factor for a change, then that is of itself the best of all possible reasons for resisting it at all costs!





johnf said...

I thought BCE meant before Church of England ;-)

Presumably Year 1 in this system would correspond to 1534 AD

JARay said...

I first came across this CE/BCE usage in pamphlets produced by the Jehova's Witnesses. They are one of those sects which does not believe that Jesus is God.
I believe that there is some machination afoot to scrap GMT. Aviation (apart from Russian aviation) uses UTC which happens to be the same as GMT and there is a belief that the French are behind scrapping GMT.

Fr William R Young said...

We can insist that CE and BCE stand for Christian Era and Before Christian Era.

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