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Author Topic: What's it like to be a Christian in Europe?  (Read 3163 times) Average Rating: 0
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Beavis
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« on: November 22, 2005, 03:48:47 PM »

I was wondering.  For all you Orthodox (or Catholic, or other for that matter) Christians who live in Europe: given the secular mentality which pervades Europe, what is it like to be a Christian in Europe?  Do you face jeering and the like?  Is there much persecution (whether through the media...jocular jabs, etc.)?  Is it more difficult to live a moral lifestyle in Europe than it is in, say, America (granting that you've ever been here)?  Would you say the general attitude in Europe is more irreverent or immoral in Europe than it is in America?  Or is it pretty much the same?
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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2005, 06:56:40 PM »

I was wondering.  For all you Orthodox (or Catholic, or other for that matter) Christians who live in Europe: given the secular mentality which pervades Europe, what is it like to be a Christian in Europe?  Do you face jeering and the like?  Is there much persecution (whether through the media...jocular jabs, etc.)?  Is it more difficult to live a moral lifestyle in Europe than it is in, say, America (granting that you've ever been here)?  Would you say the general attitude in Europe is more irreverent or immoral in Europe than it is in America?  Or is it pretty much the same?

Whoa, Europe is secular, but it's by no means as bad as you seem to think. The problem isn't that Christians face any obstacles, it's not enough people believe anything. For those who are Christian, there are plenty of churches to attend, and as was shown in the recent Roman Catholic-organised World Youth Day there are millions of fervent young Christians. I've spent most of the last five years in Europe, and have never seen any jeering or rudeness. People are generally just as immoral as in the United States, no more, no less. I think you've been getting your news from anti-Europe media like Fox News that are too busy carrying on a feud to report things as they actually are.
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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2005, 07:01:44 PM »

I think you've been getting your news from anti-Europe media like Fox News that are too busy carrying on a feud to report things as they actually are.

 Cheesy....Well certain family members in my house blare it all day long, so it's hard to get away from.  My parents seem to think that just because O'reilly is a Catholic (my parents are Catholic), that everything he says must be right.
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2005, 07:02:58 PM »

This is an interesting topic.  I personally live in Australia - so can't really help much to add to the conversation other than I visited Europe for the first time this year, visiting Salzburg, Austria (that's all).  I found the city to be very Christian (Catholic), and everything would stop on a Sunday so folks could go to Church - even the shops were closed.  Australia is very secular now - sure, we have lots who say they're "Christian" but don't necessarily live the life of a Christian, and just use the title saying they have a general faith in God - or a god of some sort.  We have life to easy over here in Australia, so I would say the majority of people don't see the need for God - which is a very, very sad case to be in.  Nevertheless - back to the topic - what's it like to be a Christian in Europe?  I'm interested to hear what you European folks have to say too who live there  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2005, 04:30:56 AM »

I'd say that in some ways it's easier here in Britain than it sounds like it is in the US. I still frequently see Nativity Scenes, for instance, and don't see any signs of anyone trying to ban them. I think that we're generally more tolerant of public displays of religion, whether Christian or not. I've never been jeered at for being Christian. Rather, I usually meet with interested enquiries when I say that I'm Orthodox. Anglicans can sometimes suffer a bit from the 'it's not a church, it's a social club' sort of comments, but even that's not too common. The one thing I would say is bad is that the media seem to have carte blanche to publish/broadcast heretical and offensive material even during the most holy Christian festivals but bend over backwards never to offend other religions at any time of the year. I'd be surprised to find that that double standard doesn't exist in the US, though.

James
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2005, 06:02:22 AM »

Macdonalds in Greece was forced to add some fasting foods to their menu during Lent a few years back Smiley so there must have been enough people giving up their burgers to make an impact.

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« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2005, 09:44:50 AM »

I found that when I visited the Czech Republic, my in-laws were rather uninterested in religion and thought my interest was weird.  The Slovak relatives, while not themselves churchgoers, were more "down with it" as Slovakia percentage-wise has more religious people.

I did find Prague to be much more licentious than anything I have ever seen even in NYC.  The 10 year old girls wearing haltertops and midrifts with booty shorts caused my wife and I some shock.  Granted teens in America don't dress MUCH better but at least you still see teens dressed well here in some venues. There, it was like all pervasive and had even permeated down to little kids. Quite sad, really.  Slovakia was all-around better but that's because Slovakia is a "backwards" place by German and Czech standards (give me backwards anyday!)

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« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2005, 02:39:49 PM »

Hello everyone,

Well, I've spent alot of time in Poland and Ukraine, and in Ukraine especially the towns and villages I have seen a unique sight: hundreds of people leaving their homes and walking together towards the church when the bells ring, whole towns, walking together towards the church. What an inspiring sight!

odox
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« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2005, 02:50:29 PM »

Well, I've spent alot of time in Poland and Ukraine, and in Ukraine especially the towns and villages I have seen a unique sight: hundreds of people leaving their homes and walking together towards the church when the bells ring, whole towns, walking together towards the church. What an inspiring sight!

Surely you are talking about provincial Ukraine, because during the time I lived in Kyiv, I never saw more than a few old women in church and all the young people I met were quite atheist or into alternative spirituality like Buddhism.
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« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2005, 03:43:27 PM »

Some somewhat random points to ponder taken from working through two Christmases in retail and embarking on a third....

The biggest day of sales in the average week in American retail is Sunday - the Lord's Day.

Christmas Eve is usually either the biggest day of sales or seond (the day after Thanksgiving being first) - the store I worked for doubled the sales of a busy Sunday on Christmas eve last year.

Some retailers are choosing not to stay closed on Christmas day, Thanksgiving etc.

Most retailers see little reduction in sales during (western) Holy Week.  Public schools in AZ do not close even for Good Friday.

In Europe it is hard to find a bussiness open on a Sunday.  Towns die out on Holy Week.  Important national holidays - closed!  While "religious" Americans can't even take two or three days out of the year to not be shopping...
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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2005, 05:07:57 PM »

I found that when I visited the Czech Republic, my in-laws were rather uninterested in religion and thought my interest was weird.ÂÂ  The Slovak relatives, while not themselves churchgoers, were more "down with it" as Slovakia percentage-wise has more religious people.

Very interesting.  A Russian woman in my OCA parish, who was raised in what was then Czechoslovakia, once told me she thought the Czechs were the "most secular" people on earth.  I do not profess to know how accurate her assessment was, however.

BJohnD
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2005, 05:25:13 PM »

What I had heard is the Czech republic is one of the best places to have a good time in the world since it is very cheap, yet easily accesible from the EU.  Hence why I was hoping to visit someday... nothing beats good yet inexpensive beer. 
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« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2005, 07:29:05 PM »

Couple years back ,I visited Amsterdam, Holland. The city itself was interesting..bikes bikes bikes everywhere and little boats too.

The city was like a giant adult superstore. Even billboards in the family restaurant showed casualy unclothed women. The little children seemed immune to it too. I was the only one gawking and somewhat embarassed  at first. The only safe place to look at was my feet...but even then...some posters managed to fall off of a cart or somethign so even lookign at your feet wasn't good enough. There were postcards of that sort of stuff next to postcards of the city. I was and still am completely in shock. I then went to a little town where the ppl dressed traditionally (for fun maybe) and they gave us some of the best cheese and chocolate I've ever tasted. The towns were more like our North American society..open but not nearly THAT open! By the time I left the city I was ready to gag. I'd seen enough flesh for a lifetime. I wonder how Orthodox or just plain Christians live over there!
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« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2005, 04:32:56 AM »

Finland is said to be a very secular country. But still 85 % of the populatian are membersÂÂ  and tax payers of the Lutheran church. Perhaps because of the tradition: to get church wedding...
The share of the regular chuchgoers is perhaps few %. Still we have living churches and relogious activities of various dominations. And the number of the moslims is increasing...
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« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2005, 05:37:28 AM »

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Some retailers are choosing not to stay closed on Christmas day, Thanksgiving etc.

ahhh.....ain't capitalism grand.... Roll Eyes

On another note they still have Christians in Europe? Thought they died out within' the last century when the wave of extreme leftism/secularism took hold. Sorry for the sarcasm, couldn't resist.
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« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2005, 01:52:22 PM »

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On another note they still have Christians in Europe? Thought they died out within' the last century when the wave of extreme leftism/secularism took hold. Sorry for the sarcasm, couldn't resist.

You'd be amazed what you find when you think for yourself Nacho and don't trust your talk radio and other sources for every little bit of information.  Your charactarization is no more absurd than thinking that all Americans are snake handling fundamentalist protestants or (and I did get this one from people - honestly) that since I am from Arizona I take a horse everywhere and carry a gun at all times...
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« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2005, 02:22:08 PM »

By the time I left the city I was ready to gag. I'd seen enough flesh for a lifetime.

How is that possible? The human form is nothing to be ashamed of. Christ never railed against nudity or told us to revile our bodies.

It was made "dirty" by that whole sexually dysfuntional monk influence.
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« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2005, 02:44:53 PM »

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How is that possible? The human form is nothing to be ashamed of. Christ never railed against nudity or told us to revile our bodies.

C'mon Tom this is an absurd place to make your point on that.  Pornography (which is what Timos is reffering to) is not about an innocent expression of nudity.  Porn in the end reduces people to nothing more than objects for sexual gratification - hardly what Christ did now was it?
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« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2005, 02:49:05 PM »

Couple years back ,I visited Amsterdam, Holland.

You have to understand that Amsterdam is like that because there are millions of tourists, especially from the U.S., that pay money for a hedonistic getaway. Don't blame the Dutch alone, as our own country is responsible in a large way for what Amsterdam has become.

The rest of the Netherlands is quite different from Amsterdam. Some parts of the north, for example, are among the most conservative regions in Europe.
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« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2005, 03:18:30 PM »

Step back ya'll cus' Nachos' in da house.... Grin


Quote
You'd be amazed what you find when you think for yourself Nacho and don't trust your talk radio and other sources for every little bit of information.  Your charactarization is no more absurd than thinking that all Americans are snake handling fundamentalist protestants or (and I did get this one from people - honestly) that since I am from Arizona I take a horse everywhere and carry a gun at all times...

LOL..... Grin Well, isn't true that less than 10% of the population in most European countries attend church? Sheeesh, if I had a nickle for everytime I heard Roman Catholics complain about empty church's across Europe I would be a rich man.

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By the time I left the city I was ready to gag. I'd seen enough flesh for a lifetime.

Dang....sounds really bad. Must make San Francisco look like part of the bible belt from what you are saying lol...

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How is that possible? The human form is nothing to be ashamed of. Christ never railed against nudity or told us to revile our bodies.

It was made "dirty" by that whole sexually dysfuntional monk influence.

Tom, Tom, Tom.....where to start on that one... Roll Eyes  Wasn't it the apostle Paul who said that he would prefer people to remain single and devote themselves to God? Whats wrong with people that choose the call of monasticism? That's a much better path to choose than anything else in this world, especially knowing we are here for a brief time before we face eternal glory or damnation. Also, your position on nudity is absurd. The problem with nudity is that most people don't view it as some kind of art, but an ends to gratification. Sexual nudity only dehumanizes the person and they are viewed almost as two dimensional. I think as men it's easy to forget this when we see a very hot women. I always remind myself that they also have an eternal soul and fathers/brothers family that unconditionally love them as would we with our own daughters. When you start thinking like that it puts things in perspective.

peace...darth nacho
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« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2005, 03:53:34 PM »

The human form is nothing to be ashamed of.
Neither is any other part of creation.  It's the "lusts of the flesh" that cause one to desire these things in an unclean way, to become possessive of them, to prefer them to God, etc.  It is only to the pure that all things are pure.  Are you pure?  Neither am I.
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Christ never railed against nudity or told us to revile our bodies.
Since when does hiding something equal "reviling" it?  If a woman truly values her body as she should, she won't want it to be the object of every passing man's lust.  As to Christ's silence on the issue, you may as well argue that some mullah in Saudi Arabia approves of nudity because he doesn't mention it either.  People don't mention things that aren't an issue, and 1st century Palestine was not a place noted for loose sexual morals.
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It was made "dirty" by that whole sexually dysfuntional monk influence.
Ah, yes, the old "blame the monks" tactic.  I'm quite familiar with it from my Protestant days.  Anyway, St. Paul long predated monasticism, and he was the one who wrote to Titus, saying that the "young women" should be told to, "love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste...(Titus 2:4-5)
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« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2005, 04:27:15 PM »

Anyway, St. Paul ...

Yep. It starts with his dysfunction. St. Paul hijacked Christianity.
 Someone reported your post saying that it seems that you are only here to denegrate Orthodoxy and wondering why you have not already been banned.

*I* know as your friend that that is not why you are here but I have asked you many times to please NOT post these ridiculous cheap one-liners.  If you have a thought, then make it in a thought-out way, don't just shoot out offensive one-liners. We might like to know WHY you believe St Paul hijacked Christianity (I think a valid response to that idea is in Fr John Behr's Way to Nicaea, which I am not sure you have finished).

At any rate, Tom, I am putting you back on post-moderation.  Please be more moderate in your responses.
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« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2005, 05:09:44 PM »

Tom, I am not ashamed of the human form. I ended up getting sick of seeing it all over the place. I'm no angel but its not enitrely amusing when its staring you blank i nthe face while your trying to eat at the restaurant with your friends. For heaven's sake there was a Museum of Sex!! I didnt go there partly because my father was with me...although it would've been interesting to see how a museum of sexuality would be organized. However I went to the torture museum and that was really cool. No wonder people in the Middle Ages listened to the authorities.

When I went to a little town, the people there were quite conservative protestant Christians. I watched a documentary not long ago whioch stated how the Dutch are trying to get rid of them being associated with the biggest red light district in europe. cleaning up their act I guess.
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« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2005, 05:38:25 PM »

Now you have simply regressed to making wild statements with no cognitive thought behind them to draw attention to yourself Tom.  Since you are such a self proclaimed expert on this liberated early Christianity that was snuffed out by Orthodoxy which Apostle condoned the radical pornography and complete sexual deviancy that Amsterdam represents?  You are doing your own position a dis-favor by not being able to distinguish the non-explicit artistic use of nudity from pornography.  You could make the case that Christianity could see the former as morally neutral, but it is impossible for any real Christianity to ever not condemn pornography.  The latter and not the former is clearly the subject matter at hand, but it seems you are simply using this as a way to say incoherent one line attacks against Christianity rather than holding a rational discussion.

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Well, isn't true that less than 10% of the population in most European countries attend church? Sheeesh, if I had a nickle for everytime I heard Roman Catholics complain about empty church's across Europe I would be a rich man.

You are looking at things only in the most superficial of ways.  Church attendance is hardly a measure of real adherance to a religion.  Afterall in America the largest group of women to recieve abortions are church going Catholics.  My point being that while there may be less people in the pews across the pond, the people in the pews tend to be more serious about their religion than the average American church antendee.  Of course there is no way to acurately measure that, but that has been my experience.  American secularists don't have the guts to admit they are atheists so attend some "contemporary" church that is hardly a church at all.  Whereas European secularist simply don't attend Church - being more honest about who they are.  Also many supposedly liberal European countries do have a large percentage of conservative people in them - but because of politics and whatnot the leaders of secularist liberal parties rise to the front.  Also something to consider is that many Christians in Europe support a more leftist economic system opposed to America where it seems Christians tend to favor a conservative economic system (all this skews the average perception Americans have of Europe). ÂÂ

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Don't blame the Dutch alone, as our own country is responsible in a large way for what Amsterdam has become.

Very good point.  There were more than a few kids in my graduating class at high school that desired nothing more than to be go there for their "graduation trip."  Just like some high school trip from the deeply religious American Bible Belt that went to Aruba earlier this year...


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« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2005, 05:50:27 PM »

For heaven's sake there was a Museum of Sex!! I didnt go there partly because my father was with me...although it would've been interesting to see how a museum of sexuality would be organized.

Sex museums are hardly limited to Amsterdam. There are many Western cities with such establishments, even a few in the United States.
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« Reply #25 on: November 24, 2005, 06:50:38 PM »

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Yep. It starts with his dysfunction. St. Paul hijacked Christianity.

Wow...You should think about joining the ECUSA. They take a similar stance.... Roll Eyes

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You are looking at things only in the most superficial of ways.  Church attendance is hardly a measure of real adherance to a religion.  Afterall in America the largest group of women to recieve abortions are church going Catholics.  My point being that while there may be less people in the pews across the pond, the people in the pews tend to be more serious about their religion than the average American church antendee.  Of course there is no way to acurately measure that, but that has been my experience.  American secularists don't have the guts to admit they are atheists so attend some "contemporary" church that is hardly a church at all.  Whereas European secularist simply don't attend Church - being more honest about who they are.  Also many supposedly liberal European countries do have a large percentage of conservative people in them - but because of politics and whatnot the leaders of secularist liberal parties rise to the front.  Also something to consider is that many Christians in Europe support a more leftist economic system opposed to America where it seems Christians tend to favor a conservative economic system (all this skews the average perception Americans have of Europe). 

Quote

I agree with you on the economic system. I would much prefer a more european socialist model as compared to what we have in America.  Capitalism has been a disaster to date so far. Two income families working 40 - 60 hours a week and killing themselves just so the top 1% make more on the bottom line. On the other hand, the problem I have with socialist countries is that they get way too left wing when it comes to moral issues like we see in Europe. It's almost as if they have abandoned christian moral principles and the government becomes the ultimate provider that takes the place of God.
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« Reply #26 on: November 24, 2005, 07:09:28 PM »

I would much prefer a more european socialist model as compared to what we have in America.ÂÂ  Capitalism has been a disaster to date so far. Two income families working 40 - 60 hours a week and killing themselves just so the top 1% make more on the bottom line. On the other hand, the problem I have with socialist countries is that they get way too left wing when it comes to moral issues like we see in Europe. It's almost as if they have abandoned christian moral principles and the government becomes the ultimate provider that takes the place of God.

It would be interesting to try, but as one moves towards socialism, liberal morality ultimately follows. To simplify the delimma (though hopefully not oversimplify it):

[True, theoretical] Capitialism necessitates segregation and inequality, therefore allowing the possibility of a standard morality, but also the possibility of an aristocricy of sorts to abuse it. [True, theoretical] Socialism, while equal and classless, necessitates no moral standards of any kind, for to do so would immediately destoy equality. So the trick, then, is to strike a balance between the two, to ensure at least some semblance of a value systm, while at the same time not setting a precedent for an aristocracy to abuse a given group. This, of course, is far harder than it seems.
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« Reply #27 on: November 24, 2005, 08:04:48 PM »

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I agree with you on the economic system. I would much prefer a more european socialist model as compared to what we have in America.  Capitalism has been a disaster to date so far. Two income families working 40 - 60 hours a week and killing themselves just so the top 1% make more on the bottom line. On the other hand, the problem I have with socialist countries is that they get way too left wing when it comes to moral issues like we see in Europe. It's almost as if they have abandoned christian moral principles and the government becomes the ultimate provider that takes the place of God

Yeah I really began to question the American economic system.... honestly I pay too much in taxes with ZERO return.  While Europeans pay more percentage in taxes they have state health care systems, free tuition through the university level and many many good social programs.  It is popular for Americans to cite high unemployment rates in countries like Germany, but that is entirely skewed.  If you take out the the former parts of Soviet East Germany, Germany has a lower unemployment rate than America and doesn't run a massive trade deficit.  To me that singals a much stronger economy...

At the end of the day I still don't think Europe is much worse than America in matters of religion.
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« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2005, 10:35:08 PM »

Our view is scewered perhaps because we were until a even a generation or two back, so used to seeing Europe as the guardian of world Christianity. But now its all different with lots of people questioning the validity of the Church, miracles such as the virgin birth etc or even communion itself.
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« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2005, 12:17:00 AM »

..which Apostle condoned the radical pornography and complete sexual deviancy that Amsterdam represents?  You are doing your own position a dis-favor by not being able to distinguish the non-explicit artistic use of nudity from pornography. ÂÂ

Valid points.
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Keble
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« Reply #30 on: January 16, 2006, 01:55:10 PM »

Somehow it seemed kind of inevitable that this would degenerate into some degree of politico-economic grexxing-- though I'm shocked-- SHOCKED-- to find out that you, Nacho, are a socialist!

We've been looking at different Christmas Carol versions, and it wasn't until I'd see the third one (the George C. Scott version, which remains my overall favorite) that the point was hit home on me. Here we have a story which is, in many respects, the "other" defining myth of Anglo-American Christmas, and here we are following Scrooge and Christmas Present through a market, and it is bustling. The commerce done in that scene rivals that of everyone's worst nightmares of crass Christmas commercialism. And the first scene of the end, the purchase of a prize turkey, evidences that same commerce.

It's interesting to read the Wikipedia material on blue laws because, whatever the opening pattern is, there is a strong influence across the West of sabbatarian ideas. The understanding of a weekly pattern of work and "weekend" rest is graven very deeply, so much so that businesses that are perpetually open are doing so by giving different employees different "weekends".
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