[Milton-L] Help with a pedagogical question

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Thu Oct 1 15:18:21 EDT 2009

I agree with Dr. Grewell.  Calendars are ALWAYS ideological documents, no matter who produces or uses them.  To keep a numbering that 'originates' in the supposed year of a prophet's (or God's) birth while changing that reference to something as bland as 'common' is comically inept.  Romans no longer date things from the founding of the city because the city and it's empire are gone.  Of course Rome still can be visited, but it is not even the center of Europe any more, let alone the world.  But for many who live there, dating from the time of Christ's birth makes perfect sense because they --like Milton-- understand chronology to connect them to the origin of meaning and to it's final resolution.  In this sense they are like their Hebrew antecedents who also date their calendars from an agreed on 'origin.'  Likewise Muslims.  And, as we have so tiresomely been reminded lately, so did the Maya in Mexico and Central America make sense of their chronos by grounding it in a beginning and a (for them, distantly) anticipated ending: (expressed in OUR calandar by 2012).  Well 2012 will probably come and go; I don't see any new calandars supplanting ours just yet.  But anyone who believes that calling this the 'Year of Our Lord, 2009' somehow validates the message of Christ is living in a dream. Our own dear poet, Milton, spent his life attempting to clarify for himself and his fellow English speakers how that message transcends language and time.  When Adam & Eve find the world before them at the end of P.L. the moment is shared by each attentive reader, no matter what his cultural and religious heritage and no matter what calendar he uses.

Jim Watt
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Grewell, Cory L. [CGrewell at thiel.edu]
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 2:40 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Help with a pedagogical question

I find this aspect of political correctness produces a rather ironic twist in that, while it tries (apparently) to recognize that Christianity is not culturally universal, it implicitly seems to me to do just the opposite by denoting the Christian era as "common."  I found a similar trend curious when I was doing grad work in Boston, which was to refer to Christmas as "the holiday," a phasing wherein the use of the definite article seems to elevate and almost apotheosize the holiday while trying to avoid a reference to its religious origins.

Dr. C. L. Grewell
Assistant Professor of English
Thiel College
75 College Ave
Greenville, PA  16125


From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu on behalf of James Rovira
Sent: Thu 10/1/2009 11:56 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Help with a pedagogical question

Yes, it is "common era," which reinforces John's point -- common to
what?  On what grounds?  It's still pinned to what was thought of at
one point as the birth year of Christ, so Christ is the basis of the
"common era."  At least BC explicitly pins the division to Christ
without requiring an implicit identification with Christ.

Jim R

On Thu, Oct 1, 2009 at 11:51 AM, Mulryan, John <JMULRYAN at sbu.edu> wrote:
> John: I believe CE is “common era,” not Christian era, although it amounts
> to the same thing. John.

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