The Insignificance of the Cross

crucifixclassroom

Last week when I posted about the scandalous play depicting Jesus as a transsexual (here), one commenter suggested that it is possible that we, as Christians, tend to criticize too quickly. Or that it  was “too easy simply to consider that this [play] was intended to offend.” Because, in the end, while it might be offending to us as Christians the main point is the intent is to offend God. Which, according to the commenter, is disputable:

“Whether and to what extent He is offended by this theatre production does of course open one of the discussions on which there is wide-ranging and divisive disagreement between people of faith in Christ.”

I think, as I also noted in those comments, that some, if not a large part of the problem stems from us as Christians who are afraid to offend anyone. After all, Jesus is about love and how dare us throw rules (like those nasty Pharisees) at others when the purpose of Jesus’ ministry was to do away with rules, not to judge others….and so on.

The online version of the Wall Street Journal today (see here) featured an article in its Opinion section about how last week:

“… the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [ruled] that crucifixes in Italy’s public school classrooms violate the “principle of the secularism of the State” [which] has provoked a rare show of bipartisanship by the country’s political leaders….”

While these so-called principles have been set to establish peace and order and prevent clashes between religious groups, the author of the piece points out that not everyone is offended:

A Muslim colleague of mine, long resident in Italy, told me on the day after the court’s ruling that he had no objection to crucifixes in classrooms. But he said he found all the talk about the object as a cultural icon to be demeaning, as if placing it on par with the regional costumes worn by folk dancers at holiday celebrations. (emphasis mine)

Well put!

In defense (I think!) of the crucifix, Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the center-left Democratic Party suggested that it simply cannot be offensive because,  “the passage of time had rendered it innocuous.”

“…If he is right,” the article continues, “Christians should hardly rejoice.” For:

“Soren Kierkegaard, who foresaw so much of post-Christian Europe more than a century and a half ago, wrote that a society incapable of taking offense at Christianity is lost to the faith, because it endorses the “glorious results” of the church’s human history, instead of facing up to the original humiliation and sacrifice of God-made-man, which by worldly values are a scandal.”

We recall the gospel reading on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple: “Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against…” (Luke 2:34).

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