This word has lodged itself in my brain today: saeculum (sigh – q – lum). Or more precisely the SAECULUM – partly because Dr Ryan always puts Latin in capitals on the whiteboard and partly because he pronounces it with deep emphasis. It means a period of time; in the context of Augustine‘s Christianity ‘the’ saeculum means a very specific period of time between the coming of Christ and Judgement Day. The logic is actually as typically tortuous and profoundly silly as with all the rest of it, but we’ll play along. We know the world was created in six days. (Shut up.) We know that on the sixth day, God created man. But we also know (and I’m using ‘know’ in a deeply loose sense) that a day with the Lord is worth a thousand days! So in a world without radiocarbon dating it turns out that Jesus came – to ‘re-create’ man – at the beginning of the sixth ‘age’. Nifty.
Augustine then goes on to decide that the saeculum is actually a non-sacred period of time, which carries the uber-convenient property of being immune from Biblical prophecy. Which I suppose means that anyone claiming that they can apply Biblical prophecies to today is really messing with St Augustine – is that wise?
But whatever – I just love the word. I want SAECULUM t-shirts. I want people to put ‘THE SAECULUM’ at the end of my address on post. And looking it up on Wikipedia makes it clear why: emerging from this curious and strange word comes the sight of a dear friend – ‘secular’. Of course! Ah – the beautiful secular world. And its buses.
(And to profoundly alienate everybody who struggled through a linguistic post, here’s a political bit to finish you off with: this BBC story made me smile today. It’s on an OECD report pointing out the “remarkable” redistribution which Labour really did manage to sneakily carry out from 2000 onwards. At a time when the New Labour narrative is clearly at an end, it’s nice to see what really was achieved.)