The Corner

The Ascent of Man

Re that New York Times notice regretting its “mischaracterization” of “the Christian holiday of Easter”, Michael Walsh is right to point out that the “correction” is equally idiotic. As Michael says, what does “resurrection into heaven” even mean? How could any expensively credentialed J-school grad type those words?

Where I think Michael understates the case is when he says that it reveals the Times as know-nothings to 1.2 billion Catholics. Leaving aside the massed ranks of Anglicans, Methodists et al, it exposes the Times to believers and non-believers alike as culturally ignorant. The Bible underpins a big chunk of western art, music, and literature, and not to know its basic concepts is to condemn yourself to bobbing around in the shallows. I don’t mean just the highbrow guys, but P G Wodehouse, when Bertie Wooster and Aunt Dahlia have a showdown over his overly jaunty white mess-jacket:

There was a death-where-is-thy-sting-fullness about her manner which I found distasteful.

For any New York Times reporters, that’s an allusion to Paul’s “characterization” (as the Times would say) of the Resurrection to the Corinthians. The same words crop up in the hell of the Great War, in the mordant parody of a London music-hall song (“She Only Answered ‘Ting-A-Ling-A-Ling’”), popular with the troops and cooked up by a couple of waggish airmen:

O death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling?

Not to know any of this stuff, to be as tone-deaf to it as that Times correction, is to be entirely unmoored from your cultural inheritance – regardless of one’s “faith tradition” (as Al Gore would put it). I contributed a couple of arts pieces to the Times years ago, so I know a bit about the extraordinary layers of editors between the author and the page, and it’s remarkable that not one person up the chain raised an eyebrow over “resurrection into heaven” before it hit the streets. Judging from leftie reaction to the “correction”, to the hyper-secularists, ignorance of the peripheral tenets of a minor cult is a badge of honor. In reality, America’s supposed “newspaper of record” has just announced itself to the world as civilizationally illiterate.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.


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