For John, BLUF: "And what's lost is lost and gone forever". Nothing to see here; just move along.
On City Life on Monday last the issue of the Lowell City Manger Scene (the crèche♠) came up. It used to be on the plaza in front and to the side of City Hall, but apparently no longer. Now it is at Saint Anne's Episcopal Church, which is, appropriately, on Kirk Street. In a way, Saint Anne's is an appropriate place, given that Saint Anne was the Mother of Mary.
On the other hand, it seems to me that something was lost by the move. I know the move saves the City, and thus the rate payers, on lawyers' fees from when we get taken to court over violating the First Amendment "Establishment Clause". On the other hand, moving the crèche to Saint Anne's seems to not broaden the meaning but to narrow it. When it was on City Hall property it belonged to all of us, just as would a menorah or the symbol of some other religion or some other nation.♥ Now, not so much. It will soon be the Saint Anne crèche and we will go down Merrimack Street to see it. It will, in fact, be just a little less communal. That is a loss.
What is a bigger loss, over time, is the striping of the public square of everything that points to our Judeo-Christrian beginnings. It is OK for Pericles to sit on the mantel of the Mayor's Reception Room, because he is a secular symbol. But probably not one of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in the Fourth Century, even though he invented, by accident the symbol for pawn shops. Slowly that cultural deposit that made the West what it is is being washed from the public square. When it is gone what will be left will be secular symbols, but secular symbols from which we have drained all the religious background. We will be navigating on waters we have never seen before. We will have no charts. And we won't know where we are going. Of course not us. Our grandchildren.
UPDATE: Updated for a geographic error.
Regards — Cliff
♠ We lived outside of Naples, Italy, in the middle of the 1970s and in Naples the crèche is a very big deal.
♥ We do a lot of flag raising events for those who have come here from foreign lands and still wish to honor the homes of their ancestors. Well, not so much for those of us who have a German surname, but for a lot of minority groups.