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A New York Reader Writes About Christophobia, Both The Word And The Thing
Re: James Fulford’s blog posts "Christianophobia"—New Word (And New Book) For An Old Thing and More On Christianophobia/Christophobia: Why There's No Outcry
From: Thomas McCarthy (e-mail him)
When he wrote the 2012 piece to which he links at the start of the present article [“Christophobia”—The Prejudice That Barely Has A Name] I remember noting with glee his implicit dismissal of the asinine comment of George Weigel anent the origins of “Christophobia.” Being piously certain of the term's antiquity, however, I did not deign to trouble myself to confirm my certainty with any research.
Today I did the research, however, but not to any productive conclusion, I am sad to say. I am all but certain that I first heard the term in the sixties, when I was in college (a Catholic college), but I have no clear recollection of where precisely I saw the term in print—if indeed I ever did back then—as opposed to simply hearing it used in class.
I am sure, too, that I saw the term used more than once (and I know that I used it myself) between that time and the nineties, when I too saw Tom Fleming and others writing for Chronicles use it in print. By then, of course, my intellectual habits and my working life had both made eminently clear to me that Christophobia was a robustly healthy phenomenon, not a descriptor for some antiquated bit of deviancy characteristic of a time and place so remote from the present-day West as to be hardly describable as historical.
But to return to the primary point, my research did at least reassure me that Fulford and I are both correct in thinking of Christianophobia as a scaldingly new coinage. I have found no trace of it before its very limited appearance, exactly two years ago, on US computer screens as part of the English, French, and other European reporting about the mostly young Catholics who protested the lavish production in Paris of a scatologically blasphemous Italian play called On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God, by a certain Romeo Castellucci.
Anyway, the posters and banners and mostly politely raised voices of the Parisian protesters called for an end to "Christianophobia," and that’s the word that keeps being used by Catholic Traditionalists emailing about it.
But what of Rupert Shortt and his book? His use of the neologism "Christianophobia" seems carefully calculated to falsely emphasize the phenomenon's novelty, to allay any career-dampening fears whatsoever that this offense may be counted anything more than a slight or a discourtesy—something not to be compared even at the margins with that ghastly world-class horror anti-Semitism which he refers to obsequiously in the second sentence.
See previous letters from Thomas McCarthy
James Fulford writes: Using Google’s scanned book archives, I found examples of the word “Christophobia” as long ago as 1899 and 1902. It didn’t appear much before that, and I suspect that before Sigmund Freud burst forth on the world with his now-discredited theories, we didn’t use the word “phobia” much in English at all, but referred to fear, hatred, and antipathy.