Archive Article: Jesus, Man Of The Millennium. 20 Dec 02.
December 27, 2008

At this time of the year, with all the crass commercialism in the shops, there is a tendency to forget that Jesus is the reason for the season. Indeed, Jesus is almost invisible in many of the stores – it is Santa Clause who gets the attention. But Jesus has staying power; fads come and go but Jesus keeps keeping on.

I have just been reminded of how fleeting are so many other things in life by reading the autobiography of George Seldes, “Witness to a Century“. Seldes was one of the greatest American journalists in the 20th Century. He seems to have met many of the important political figures of his day, such as the American war leaders Woodrow Wilson and Roosevelt as well as the European dictators like Lenin and Mussolini. He also met many of the key cultural figures, such as HG Wells, Ernest Hemingway and Picasso. He was also an early pioneer in the health movement’s struggle against the tobacco industry – and he attributed his giving up smoking as a reason for his long life.

His autobiography is a good read. But he made a major error. He argued that, for good or evil, Lenin was the man who had the greatest impact on the 20th Century. His book appeared in 1987 (Seldes himself died eight years later at the grand old age of 104). His assessment was proved wrong even before he had died in 1995.

Lenin, Stalin and all the other communist leaders had no staying power. In China, the leaders still refer to Mao Tse-tong but much of modern China is shedding its communist heritage. China by the way has a population of over 1,200 million but only 65 million people actually belong to the Communist Party (and that is mainly for career purposes).

There are no presents being exchanged on the birthday anniversaries of those leaders as a token of gratitude for their birth. Indeed, the world may well be a better place if they had not been born at all.

In short, communism will not last as a political force for more than about a century in total. It is rapidly heading for the political museum. Instead of Lenin being such a mover and shaker, he has virtually disappeared. There are hardly even any Lenin statues left standing – and the great Russian city of Leningrad has returned to its pre-communist name.

Meanwhile, Christianity has more adherents than ever before. It has survived all forms of persecution (including in communist countries) – and it has outlasted them all. In no country where Christianity has established a toehold, has it ever been pushed out permanently. It is the largest and most widespread of all the religions.

At a crucial point in World War II, Churchill warned Stalin that the Pope was opposed to one of his actions. Stalin asked rhetorically: “How many battalions does the Pope have?” The implication being that only large military forces count.

Six decades later, Stalin’s empire has gone – and there are more Catholics in more countries than ever before. The movement of history is not necessarily driven by large military battalions.

On the contrary, a baby born two thousand years remains the driving force of history. Jesus remains the reason for the season.

Broadcast On Friday 20th December 2002 On Radio 2GB’s “Brian Wilshire Programme” At 9pm