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EXIGUUS' ERA


The Christianist Era does not begin with the real or imaginary birth of Jesus of Nazareth as many people believe, not even three years before or after that event or nonevent as is claimed too; the Christianist Era began no fewer than about 525 years later. It is then that Dionysius Exiguus, a Catholic monk, refused to employ the contemporary Roman system of chronology any longer, even th it was perfectly normal to do so in those days. Approximately 241 years after the beginning of the Emperor Diocletianus' reign the obstinate or self-willed 'Dennis the Little' decided to reckon the years from the purported incarnation of Christendom's son-god.

After a gradual transition, lasting almost 900 years, a great many persons and countries adopted Exiguus' 'Era of Incarnation', that is, the Christianist dating system (and the Gregorian calendar as well). It has persisted for 1477 years now, and with 23 more years it will definitely make the millennium and a half. Whatever we may think of it, we must not forget that the 'Era of Diocletian' it once replaced as a general frame of reference was itself unacceptable from an inclusive point of view too, perhaps even much more so.

It may have taken a long time in some places, but Exiguus' success proves again that the individual does not only follow the crowd and does not always need to follow the crowd, but that the crowd can also follow and actually does follow the individual. Time and again history has shown how this fact can be put to use both for the better and for the worse, both in the service of a norm-centered, naturalistic and in the service of a god-centered, supernaturalist ideology, both for inclusive and for exclusivist purposes.

Until the days of Exiguus the leaders of the Christian temples had been greatly occupied with the calculation of Easter, one of their religious feastdays that fell on a different day each year. Exiguus came up with the novel system of chronology when was ordered by the Catholic temple chief to compile new tables for this day. Many centuries later, not long after the invention of the electronic calculator, it was computer programmers who started to busy themselves with programs that can calculate for any year in the distant future which date Easter is supposed to be in that particular year.

How superbly these mechanical Easter tables illustrate the technological naivety and ideological nihilism of their makers: never would these extrapolating robots ask themselves if in the year 2200 of the Christianist Era the Christianist Era will and should still be used as an official international system of chronology, and never would they ask themselves if by then the Christianist Easter will and should still be celebrated as a public holiday. In this respect Dennis the Little had much more imagination: at least 'e was able and willing to conceive a new era!





©MVVM, 51-66 ASWW

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