Cultural Collapse Alert: “Lent fast re-branded as ‘Christian Ramadan,'” by Bruno Waterfield in the Telegraph (thanks to all who sent this in):
Dutch Catholics have re-branded the Lent fast as the “Christian Ramadan” in an attempt to appeal to young people who are more likely to know about Islam than Christianity.
Now, why are young people in the Netherlands more likely to know about Islam than Christianity? Think about that for a moment. And then ponder also the fact that Christians who lived under Islamic rule for century after century never, ever succumbed to any temptation to recast their own traditions as pale imitations of Islamic ones. Lent was always and only Lent. Great Lent. The Great Fast. Never “Christian Ramadan.”
Ramadan is not a word for “fast.” It is a month on the Islamic calendar, which Christians do not use, during which Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours — a style of fasting unknown to all Christian traditions in any case. Byzantine Christians, both Orthodox and Catholic, traditionally — and today, among the observant — abstain during the Great Fast from meat and dairy products, fish with backbones, olive oil, and alcohol, day and night, from the beginning of Lent after Forgiveness Vespers on Cheese Fare Sunday until Pascha, Easter, the Resurrection of Christ. And they do not eat at all until noon, or in some cases sundown.
Roman Catholics traditionally followed a much less strict fast, with no meat or alcohol, and even that since Vatican II has fallen by the wayside. But in any case, these fasts are nothing like the Islamic fast of Ramadan, and there is nothing comparable to them in Islamic tradition. To rename Lent after Muslim practice is not only to demonstrate abject cultural capitulation, but to sow confusion by suggesting that Christian fasting has to do with not eating or drinking from sunup to sundown, which has never been the practice among any Christian sect or group. If that is not the suggestion, since these Dutch Roman Catholics aren’t fasting in any case, then their youth will be given the impression that the Muslims are the really observant ones, and the Christians are by comparison lax and indifferent — an impression that is certain, particularly among youth, to lead to conversions to Islam.
The Catholic charity Vastenaktie, which collects for the Third World across the Netherlands during the Lent period, is concerned that the Christian festival has become less important for the Dutch over the last generation.
“The image of the Catholic Lent must be polished. The fact that we use a Muslim term is related to the fact that Ramadan is a better-known concept among young people than Lent,” said Vastenaktie Director, Martin Van der Kuil.
Three decades ago the Catholic Church was as strict as many Muslims are about Ramadan with a total ban on meat and alcohol during the 40-day Lenten period between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
Most Dutch Catholics now focus on charitable work after the Vatican loosened fasting strictures for all but the first and last days of Lent back in 1967.
Four million Dutch describe themselves as Roman Catholics and 400,000 people attend Mass every week but only a few tens of thousands still mark Lent by fasting, said Mr Van der Kuil
Vastenaktie organisers hope that by linking the festival to Ramadan they can remind Christians who may be less observant than Muslims of the “spirituality and sobriety” of Lent.
They could accomplish this more effectively by recovering and encouraging their own Lenten traditions, which they have utterly discarded.
“The agreements are more striking than the differences. Both for Muslims and Catholic faithful the values of frugality and spirituality play a central role in this tradition,” said Mr Van der Kuil.
That may be true, but it is still no warrant for giving the impression that one’s older and quite different religious traditions are simply imitations of a quite different (and younger) tradition — and what’s more, one that denies the legitimacy of Christian tradition in any case.