CHRISTIANITY ON TRIAL: ARGUMENTS
by Vincent Carroll and David C. Shiflett Encounter Books, 2001 244 pages, $15.95
To order: (800) 786-3839 or http://www.encounterbooks.com
Going strictly by the numbers, Christianity is as mainstream as a religion gets, and yet, as Carroll and Shiflett show, its members are generally content being treated as a barely tolerated minority.
They document how anti-Christian bigotry comes in a kaleidoscope of flavors, from the play Corpus Christi, which depicts a homosexual Christ having sex with the Apostles, to the liberal magazine The Nation referring to Communion hosts as “crackers.”
They also quote John Leo, the U.S. News and World Report columnist and media critic, who argues that “the bashing of mainstream Christian symbols is so mainstream that it's barely noticed.” His litany of examples is too explicit and perverted to reproduce here.
And they show that such examples are not limited to art museums and left-wing political magazines. When, for example, President Bush used the word “crusade” to describe the war on terrorism after America was attacked on Sept. 11, a wave of outrage overwhelmed the daily political discourse.
Citing potential offense to Muslims still smarting from the Crusades of many centuries ago — which themselves remain vastly misunderstood — the offended parties and their protectors saw to it that the president had no political choice but to never use the word again.
Carroll and Shiflett write: “Americans who have never cracked a history book are likely to have heard a great deal in the mass media about the church's suppression of Galileo and the horrors of the Inquisition, but next to nothing about Christianity's role in ending infanticide and slavery.”
Here is where Christianity on Trial is so useful. The authors could have easily and appropriated subTITLEd their book Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Christianity But Where Afraid to Ask.
“It is safe to say that fewer Americans appreciate the role of John Paul II in the fall of communism than the number who correctly lay blame for the Inquisition on the popes of the Middle Ages,” write Carroll and Shiflett. Contemporary historians, they show, are generally unfair to Christians. “While there is nothing wrong with remembering the evil that men do, there is something altogether perverse in consistently disregarding the good that men do.”
They have a point: It would be nice to see a few historians catching Christianity doing something right every once in a while.
“The history of Christianity is replete with the likes of John Paul II and the members of Solidarity,” write Carroll and Shiflett, “men and women whose faith inspired them to accomplishments every bit as worthy of our memory.”
Amen, brothers. May we never forget, in spite of the cultural establishment's best efforts to see that we can hardly remember.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is executive editor of National Review Online (http://www.nationalreview.com).