Saturday, April 14, 2007

Is there a War On Easter? And as for that Amazonian tribe.... the War on Christmas? This First Things blog post suggests as much.

This Lent we have seen the Discovery Channel airing a documentary about the “Lost Tomb of Jesus,” a New York confectioner making a life-sized Jesus out of chocolate, Newsweek boldly asking “Is God Real?,” and the New York Times discussing both theism as the outgrowth of brain architecture (subscription required) and the myth of the Exodus. The History Channel graced Easter Sunday night with “Banned from the Bible,” two hours about all that nifty stuff that was “deemed unfit to grace the pages of the sacred scriptures for Jews and Christians . . . heresy or hidden truth?”

I haven't seen much evidence of secular activists really trying to shut Easter down, like they've been trying to do with Christmas. Disdain is not the same thing as censorship, let alone persecution.

But, if (or rather, since) secular leftist goodthink calls for sneering at Christianity, that explains something I heard on NPR over the Easter weekend. They had some diverse clergy on to speak about the meaning of Easter, all harmless and fair enough. Then they followed it with a story about a linguist whose contact with an Amazonian tribe caused him to give up his Christian faith.

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

Dan Everett is a former missionary turned linguist. He's currently a professor at Illinois State University, but he spent the last 30 years studying the unique language of the Piraha Indians in northwest Brazil.

Everett says the Piraha converted him from Christianity to a scientific worldview, and he says their language challenges some widely held ideas of human nature and linguistics. Independent producer Robert Pollie explains.

Explain he does.

POLLIE: Everett had a knack for languages, and after more visits over the next few years, he was conversing with ease. But his proselytizing was going nowhere. When it came to the Gospel, the Piraha had nothing but questions.

Prof. EVERETT: A guy died and he came back from the dead? That's amazing. We've never seen anything like that. So what did he tell you when he came back from the dead? Well, I didn't actually see him. I mean, the and so then they said, well, why are you telling us about it? I mean, you didn't see it and you don't know anybody who saw it. And so they were they lost interest in the story completely.

POLLIE: The Piraha, Everett says, are the ultimate empiricists, demanding evidence for every claim. And under their cross-examination, Everett began questioning his own religious beliefs. In the end, it was the Indians who converted the missionary.

Gee, I hope I never get blind-sided by any of that science stuff, in my life. I'm rather fond of my Christian faith, and would hate to have it get all battered and dented by the real world. It would be terrible, having life contract to just your fingertips.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen.

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