One critic calls it the “Islamic conquest of the West.” Others say it’s a sign of a collapsing West. But on the heels of a story about European churches removing crosses to accommodate Muslim migrants comes another in the same vein: Some German primary schools and daycare centers are renaming a traditional Christian festival to avoid “offending” Islamic newcomers.
This latest victim of political correctness is St. Martin’s Day, also known as the Feast of St. Martin. Held on November 11 after the harvest, it’s a traditional autumn event on the Christian calendar. But just as how American school calendars long ago renamed the Christmas and Easter breaks, respectively, “winter” and “spring” breaks, secular forces in Germany see fit to further de-Christianize their nation. And the new committee-worthy name they’ve chosen for the feast day is the “Festival of Lights.” Reports Breitbart:
The Acting Headmistress of Salesian Montessori Community School in Oberkassel, Nanette Weidelt, told the Rheinische Post that the new name had been adopted, “in order to facilitate integration”.
… The head of the German Red Cross in Gerresheim said her institution had also made the change: “We have deliberately chosen [the new name] because we want the meaning of integration and unity to reach as many children as possible, and because more people will participate in our procession”.
WND.com added to the picture, writing, “On top of that, numerous Dusseldorf daycare centers have outright abolished the celebration altogether, due to ‘consideration for the refugees,’ Infowars reported, citing the Epoch Times.” On the other hand, Breitbart tells us that schools such as Sun Road primary in Dusseldorf and Urban Street School in Kita Velberter, Oberbilk, are maintaining the tradition (for now).
Not surprisingly, though, the movement to rename St. Martin’s Day is nothing new. As this Epoch Times article points out (text put through Google translate and edited for grammar and style), “The leftist politician Rüdiger Sagel struck two years ago [and said] … the festival should be renamed ‘Sun, Moon and Stars’…. Such changes should be made because there are different religions, in particular a high proportion of Muslim children, in day care centers. ‘You should not impose the Christian tradition,’ Sagel said at the time.”
Yet while some blame only Muslims and others only leftists, the West’s problems are systemic; they wouldn’t be happening were it not for, as British statesman Edmund Burke would have said, the “good men [who] do nothing.” As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens put it recently:
Europe is reaching its end not because of its sclerotic economy, or stagnant demography, or the dysfunctions of the superstate. Nor is the real cause the massive influx of Middle Eastern and African migrants. Those desperate people are just the latest stiff breeze against the timber of a desiccated civilization.
Europe is dying because it has become morally incompetent. It isn’t that Europe stands for nothing. It’s that it stands for shallow things, shallowly. Europeans believe in human rights, tolerance, openness, peace, progress, the environment, pleasure. These beliefs are all very nice, but they are also secondary.
Stephens went on to say, “What Europeans no longer believe in are the things from which their beliefs spring” — such as Christianity. Speaking of which and “shallow things, shallowly,” the St. Martin’s fiasco reminds me of a Seinfeld episode in which the George Costanza character, struggling to define his relationship with his girlfriend, learns they both like gum and says excitedly that they’re “about…gum!” It may seem a silly reference, but is it far less silly than what’s occurring here? Breitbart also tells us that a “long-established custom is for communities to gather around a bonfire on St. Martin’s eve, called “Martinsfeuer,” followed by a lantern procession through the local conurbation.” And now the Sensitivity Police have removed all reference to the feast’s Christian substance and given us the “Festival of Lights.”
Because, of course, lights are what it’s all about.
And Christmas is about presents, Easter about a bunny and chocolate eggs, and Thanksgiving about a turkey.
The West has hollowed itself out, sort of like a stuffed animal beautiful on the surface but devoid of life-force. Stephens mentions that Europe believes in tolerance, and it’s no wonder. As Greek philosopher Aristotle observed, “Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society.”
And Westerners understand tolerance shallowly, so shallowly that they don’t understand that as they so often practice it, it is a vice. For tolerance always involves the abiding of a perceived negative. We wouldn’t tolerate a fine car or beautiful home, for instance; we relish those things. We might have to tolerate a cold or bad weather, however. And as long as nothing can be done to remedy the cross borne, tolerance is a virtue.
But if we tolerate the destruction of that fine car or beautiful home when we could prevent it, our tolerance is mere weakness of character. And what about tolerating the destruction of an objectively superior culture when its demise could be forestalled? Virtuous?
“Objectively” is the key word. When entertaining a foreign guest we might serve, and tolerate, an exotic food he likes and we don’t in hospitality’s name; after all, food isn’t a matter of Truth but taste (assuming your guest isn’t a cannibal). But would you upend an objectively superior culture or renounce an objectively superior faith in hospitality’s name?
And there’s the rub: Awash in relativism, the West no longer believes in the objective, as this Barna Group study indicates. Westerners have lost their faith. And the easiest way to understand the matter is to ask, who birthed your religion? There are only two possibilities: Either man or something outside of and superior to him (God) did. If the latter, we can say that our faith is the Truth, that it is real and, therefore, not negotiable. But what if, as atheists say, it was invented by man?
Well, if we learned that most of the world liked vanilla, we wouldn’t say this made it “objectively good”; it’s just a matter of taste and, therefore, we wouldn’t call someone who hated it “wrong.” But how is our religion any different if the only thing we can say about it is that we “like” it and, by golly, what’s more, lots of others “like” it, too? If this is all we can say about not just our faith but religion in general, it then lies in the same category as flavors: taste.
And this is why so many Westerners treat Christianity as a flavor of the day. Just as they might be willing to serve a foreign food to a foreigner in deference to his likes, so are they willing to serve a foreign faith. To them, Christianity is more akin to taste in food than to food for the soul.
Yet upon closer examination, Westerners’ relativistic isms — those shallow things understood shallowly — collapse upon themselves. For if everything if relative, how can tolerance be better than intolerance? How can helping migrants be better than hurting them? Why, if there’s no God, no Truth, everything boils down to occultist Aleister Crowley’s maxim, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” And then the West might as well just do what it likes.
Of course, too many moderns don’t much like Christianity, either. Many don’t like their Western culture. And what you don’t like, you often allow to die.
Photo of festival of St. Martin: Patnac