Friday, March 03, 2006

My Easter Difficulties

I have difficulties with Easter. Ash Wednesday hits, and the Lenten weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter are a torment: mood swings (rage, happiness, sorrow), vivid dreams, headaches and overall gloominess. Stigmata of the psyche, if you will.

I cannot greet Spring with much enthusiasm -- Spring has traditionally been a season of funerals for me. So, yes: the physicality of "Good" Friday is all too real. No-one's life ends happily, not even Jesus's.

Worse still, I find the resurrection problematic beyond belief. It doesn't matter if I approach it metaphorically, spiritually, or blood-and-kidneys physically -- resurrection is so removed from my existence as to be alien to me.

Not so judgement. I notice the Lectionary readings for this week include passages from Amos. If Amos and all the other biblical prophets have a central concern, it seems to be this: if you really want to piss G_D off, make a show of calling yourself G_D's people, then torture and humiliate the people you conquer in war. That's all there is to it. Even gay cowboys don't rate a mention after that.

"When they said 'repent'/I wonder what they meant" -- thank you, Leonard. Our North American democracies have elected two evangelical Christians to their highest offices. They say they read and believe the Bible. What are the odds we'll see something resembling "repentance"? (I refer, of course, to something more substantial than a muttered, "Sorry 'bout that, Jesus," before you roll over and go to sleep).

I can't find comfort in any of this. G_D's crosshairs are notoriously imprecise. Besides, I don't want a blood-and-judgement G_D; I want a resurrection G_D. I just don't know what that looks like.


Jon Trott said...

Thank you. Don't know what else to say to that bit of personal honesty, which is both well-written and deeply resonant with my own meanderings.

Trent Reimer said...

I cannot be the only one who experienced some reasonance in reading this.

How many people in history have ever read Amos and thought "That's me! I'm the oppressor!" Do any of us have the discipline to read the prophets without absolving ourselves?

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." [St. Matthew 11:12]

The issues which always seem to crop up when religion and politics are combined were very much in evidence in the time of Christ. The new testament scripture often casts the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law as the antagonists to true faith in God. It is with much anxiety and wincing that I have endured hours of well intentioned Christian teachers (wrongly) accusing these men of opposing Christ because of their adherence to the Tora. If they could just take a minute to follow that thread of logic to its natural conclusion wouldn't they understand that it is actually blasphemous?

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." [St. Matthew 23:23]

The problem is not the Tora. Rather a faith useful to politics, a faith useful to forceful men, requires popularity. Popularity almost always entails selfishness. The problem Christ introduces is apparent:

"...anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." [St. Matthew 10:38]

The faith of Christ is the faith of crucifiction. If ressurection is foreign to our existance it is tempting to think that crucifiction is not. But the faith of forceful men is not a crucifiction faith. It is a faith that supports a more humanistic political agenda; one which favours the rich over the poor, the powerful over the helpless and those close to us over those we do not understand. A form of unselfishness is indeed taught, but it is an "unselfishness" which brings gain to those who preach it at the cost of those who follow it.

And the spectical of Easter is a God who weilds judgement in a manner not known to men. Forceful men assume God's judgement to be another tool they can somehow employ against their fellow man. It was God who said "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked" [Ezekiel 33:11] yet forceful men gloat in the thought of God's wrath. But God demonstrated his passion for us in this:

"...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." [Romans 5:8]

The faith of crucifiction is the antithesis of the faith of political power. In Easter God reveals the great secret still missed by forceful men: God would rather take his own judgement upon himself than weild it against us.

Whisky Prajer said...

Thank you both for the comments. It's nice to have the company.