First of all, let me state right up front that it is hard to do a news critique of a graphic device. I concede that point.
At the same time, I also know that Google is not, in and of itself, a news source.
Google is, of course, much more than a news source.
Google is one of the most powerful forces shaping culture and information in this digital age in which we live, read and think.
Google is a portal, a door and a gateway. If the editors at Google decide to shape our world, our reality, into some new form then dang it, it will be shaped into that new form. If the principalities and powers at Google decide that certain forms of information are more worthy, more valuable, more acceptable than others, then that perception will become search-engine reality. It’s kind of like that showdown between Apple’s iTunes overlords and the circle of religious conservatives that produced the Manhattan Declaration.
Anyway, the Google overlords have a tradition of doing cute little graphic frameworks for the word “Google” on major days of interest in the culture, such as “The Holidays,” St. Patrick’s Day, the Super Bowl, Earth Day, the 4th of July, Halloween, etc. They also enjoy doing occasional salutes to major historic figures, often on their birthdays.
Which, of course, brings us to today — which is the most important day of the year in the Western version of the Christian calendar.
In other words, today is Easter for most of the world’s Christians. Those of us who are Orthodox Christians, and follow the older Julian calendar, will celebrate Pascha (Easter) on May 5th.
So what did the Google folks do today? Well, on one level, they decided to mark the 86th birthday of union leader Cesar Chavez. In my opinion, they ended up profoundly insulting this famous Catholic.
Thus, I would like to associate myself with this morning’s post on the topic by Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher, which states in part:
Nothing against Chavez, but what the heck? Chavez, who was a devout Catholic, probably would have been bewildered as well.
Google could have ignored Easter, and nobody would have noticed. But choosing to observe something other than Easter on Easter Sunday is deliberate.
It’s a small thing, of course, but this kind of thing, accumulated, signals an intentional de-Christianization of our culture, and the creation of an intentional hostility to Christianity that will eventually cease to be latent, or minor. It cannot have been an accident that Google decided to honor a relatively obscure cultural figure instead of observing the most important Christian holiday, a day of enormous importance to an overwhelming number of people in the United States, and to an enormous number of people around the world.
The only part of that statement that I would word differently is that I would say America is evolving from from a predominantly Protestant culture that, imperfectly, attempted to avoid state endorsement of any particular religion into a culture that is increasingly hostile to traditional forms of religion — while openly endorsing modernized forms of faith that our national elites find acceptable. I think it’s simplistic and inaccurate to call America’s emerging civil religion “secular,” since it officially favors some forms of religion and rejects others.
Then again, what was that whole “stomp on Jesus” incident down in South Florida all about?
With an indirect nod to a Rob Stroud post at the Mere Inkling weblog, Dreher ends up quoting a haunting piece of the famous C.S. Lewis novel, “That Hideous Strength,” that looks forward to life in an England that is blending science and the occult, while, yes, stomping on Christianity:
C.S. Lewis would not be surprised by this event. … There is a passage in his book That Hideous Strength that seems almost prescient. In this scene the protagonist, a sociology professor named Mark Studdock, is being initiated into an elite and secretive inner circle at the Institute where he has come to work. The organization has global plans and great influence. Studdock is a confirmed agnostic, yet he is disturbed by something his mentors describe as a “minor” portion of the initiation process.
And, then, the actual quote from the Lewis novel:
Meanwhile, in the Objective Room [where candidates are taught to think properly], something like a crisis had developed between Mark and Professor Frost. As soon as they arrived there Mark saw that the table had been drawn back. On the floor lay a large crucifix, almost life size, a work of art in the Spanish tradition, ghastly and realistic.
“We have half an hour to pursue our exercises,” said Frost looking at his watch. Then he instructed Mark to trample on it and insult it in other ways.
Now whereas Jane had abandoned Christianity in early childhood, along with her belief in fairies and Santa Claus, Mark had never believed in it at all.
At this moment, therefore, it crossed his mind for the very first time that there might conceivably be something in it. Frost who was watching him carefully knew perfectly well that this might be the result of the present experiment. He knew it for the very good reason that [he had briefly experienced, and dismissed, the same thought during his own initiation].
“But, look here,” said Mark.
“What is it?” said Frost. “Pray be quick. We have only a limited time at our disposal.”
“This,” said Mark, pointing with an undefined reluctance to the horrible white figure on the cross. “This is all surely a pure superstition.”
“Well, if so, what is there objective about stamping on the face? Isn’t it just as subjective to spit on a thing like this as to worship it? I mean— damn it all— if it’s only a bit of wood, why do anything about it?”
“That is superficial. If you had been brought up in a non-Christian society, you would not be asked to do this. Of course, it is a superstition; but it is that particular superstition which has pressed upon our society for a great many centuries. It can be experimentally shown that it still forms a dominant system in the subconscious of many individuals whose conscious thought appears to be wholly liberated. An explicit action in the reverse direction is therefore a necessary step towards complete objectivity. It is not a question for a priori discussion. We find it in practice that it cannot be dispensed with.”
So why did Google ignore Easter? Was the company’s choice newsworthy in any way?
My prediction is that, tomorrow, this will be big news — on “conservative” news sites — while the mainstream press will cover the controversial, politicized, “War on Easter” pronouncements that this Google decision was important.
I would agree with Dreher that this action was, at its root, about “desensitization.”
However, after doing a simple Google search for previous Easter Google logos, I have to admit that I am not sure that today’s Cesar Chavez logo is any more of an insult to the true meaning of Easter/Pascha than what the overlords have offered in the past.
Check it out.