Christian Ramadan

Is it time to use new language — outside the Christian vocabulary — to explain Christianity?

Dutch Catholics have re-branded the Lent fast as the “Christian Ramadan” in an attempt to appeal to young people who are more likely to know about Islam than Christianity.

The Catholic charity Vastenaktie, which collects for the Third World across the Netherlands during the Lent period, is concerned that the Christian festival has become less important for the Dutch over the last generation.

“The image of the Catholic Lent must be polished. The fact that we use a Muslim term is related to the fact that Ramadan is a better-known concept among young people than Lent,” said Vastenaktie Director, Martin Van der Kuil.

I’m sure this won’t go over well in much of the American Bible Belt, but I for one have no problem with this. Lent itself is not a word that goes back to Jesus Christ. It is, after all, a middle English word. So we shouldn’t get too uppity to think of “branding” Lent in ways that will reach people who are not familiar with the Christian story.

We Christians have to get on with things, and that especially means realizing that we no longer live in a Christian world. We are once again a missionary church. The sooner we start behaving that way, the sooner we’ll have a chance of survival for another 2,000 years. So if “Christian Ramadan” helps someone understand what we’re doing during Lent, I’m happy to use the phrase.

The article was from the Telegraph, via Church Marketing Sucks. And, no, I am not saying that Christian priests can be Muslims, so don’t even start.

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2 Responses

  1. can i suggest that part of what is attractive is that Ramadan is exotic and exacting.

    Exotic, as we know, sells. At least, to Europeans and Americans. 🙂 Part of that is what I think they are aiming at.

    But also exacting. These days at least, in North America at least, there is a great quest for authenticity, and a certain “this is what we do” attitude instantly gains not just respect but also emulation.

    i want to banish from the church the following sentence: “This year in Lent, instead of giving something up, let’s take something on…”

  2. Scott Gunn says:

    I generally agree with what you say here. However, the Dutch context may be a bit different. At least here in New England, there’s general cultural awareness of “Lent.” It wouldn’t make sense to talk about Ramadan as an introduction to Lent. But in a more secular society — e.g. the Netherlands — this might make sense.

    Thinking beyond Lent, I suspect there are ways in which we need to “be all things to all people” as St. Paul suggests, and not just expect people to have an inherent knowledge of Christianity.

    Regarding your last point, I might stop short of banishment, though I wouldn’t use that phrase. I don’t think self-denial for its own sake makes much sense in the lives of many Christians, which is what this statement tries to stay away from. I talk about Lent as a time for simplicity, as a time to make space for God. But that’s just me…

    Anyway, thanks for this and for all your comments on 7WD.


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