Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
Over at Catholic Vote we encounter the sort of story that could only emerge from the PC precincts of my beloved and absurd home town, Seattle. Jessica, a 16-year-old private school kid, decided to volunteer at a public school in our famously wretched and embattled Seattle system. Here’s her story:
“At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that,” Jessica said.
She was concerned how the teacher might react to the eggs after a meeting earlier in the week where she learned about “their abstract behavior rules.”
“I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay,” Jessica explained. ”She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat ‘spring spheres.’ I couldn’t call them Easter eggs.”
Rather than question the decision, Jessica opted to “roll with it.” But the third graders had other ideas.
“When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said, ‘Oh look, spring spheres,’ and all the kids were like ‘Wow, Easter eggs.’ So they knew,” Jessica said.
Okay. Before we go any further, just savor that for a moment:
“Spring Spheres.” Not even “Spring eggs,” which would at least be easy to say and accurate. Nope. It’s gotta be “Spring Spheres” combining the manifold virtues of PC cowardice, unpronounceability and inaccuracy (because eggs aren’t, y’know, spheres). Triple threat.
I’d like to move on to my next point, but ... indulge me. “Spring spheres. Springspheres! Spriiiiiiiiing Spheeeeeeeeres!”
That is just so many kinds of stupid all wrapped up in one. Only the bluest of blue state public school systems could come up with something that magnificently and juicily dumb.
Spring spheres ... ah me! Splendid!
But. Moving on. What interests me about the incident is the curious paradox of who is getting upset about it and who isn’t. In the comboxes after the article, you get a lot of the usual suspects turning up with their faux scholarly analyses of the “origin of Easter” (it’s pagan, as they all agree with each other), and so Christians are, per the Blue State Groupthink Manual, dumb, while people who insist on Spring Spheres are, y’know, really smart (according to themselves). That’s to be expected from our theologically illiterate clevers out here in the Land at the End of History. Pseudoknowledge abounds and no Seattle Sophisticate would ever be expected to look beyond the level of Internet Gossip to discover the actual origin of Easter, nor still less to realize that “Easter” is a linguistic accident for English speakers, while much of the rest of the world calls it by a name that derives, not from “Eostre” but from Passover. The whole “Easter is pagan” thing doesn’t work so well when you realize it is rooted, not in bunnies and eggs, but in the feast Jesus celebrated on the night he was betrayed.
So the Seattle Sophisticate Narrative about Easter, as about so much else pseudo-sophistication of the “Jesus Never Existed” school of ignorance, is the glass-half-empty narrative here.
But there’s also a curious glass-half-full side, too. Because, once again, we also see the odd spectacle of Protestants—many of them imagining they are quite anti-Catholic—going to bat for Easter and its trappings in much the same way that they go to bat for ChristMASS and fight to preserve Catholic feasts and culture from the depredations of the Correctors. Some of it is rather luridly over-dramatized (favorite over-the-top response to this silly story):
Easter and Christmas are now taught in school to be pornographic words as America slumbers in darkness. As America sleeps, Gog and Magog form their alliance.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Mahdī will soon appear. Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
But though the hysteria is, I think, a bit much, it’s nice to realize that this guy, whoever he is, is defending something his Puritan ancestors would have damned to the pit of hell as popish trumpery.
It is like the odd spectacle I participated in few years ago down in Hollywood, when I was asked to join a panel to discuss The Da Vinci Code and discovered myself in the odd position of being the sole Papist watching four Evangelicals arguing, in various ways, in defense of the Catholic Church from the pseudo-scholarly charlatanism of Dan Brown.
Moral: one happy side effect of our darkening anti-Christian culture is that, as the water comes up the beach and threatens to drown Christian culture, people from Christian traditions are forced closer together and many Protestants who used to think of the Church as the Whore of Babylon are coming to recognize that the Romish spirit of antichrist is not all it’s cracked up to be. For them, I ask the prayers of St. Hippolytus, the only anti-pope to be canonized a saint. Reconciliation is always possible, even if it has to be found in a salt mine under the lash of pagan oppressors (which is where our culture seems to be heading in short order).