Easter Changes Everything
It doesn't get the buzz that Christmas does or thrill kids as much. Yet Easter offers the one thing all grown-ups need.
04/21/2006 08:23:33 AM
nnmns; in your statement "you agree with most Christian thinking except for the magic part", I have to explain that Holy scripture tells the Christian to stay away from magic of any kind...it is from the dark side and is not from God, so the Harry Potter movies and books are a subtle negative invasion into the mind of a young child planting a seed of dark and dangerous thinking.
04/18/2006 02:06:11 PM
Another thought - I truly wonder in dreadful anticipation to see how J.K. Rowling finishes her Potter saga. Kids who read those books have at least had a literary experience with death. She has incorporated so many religious themes, I hope she will not skip this opportunity as well. After all C.S. Lewis did well with it in Narnia. Kids KNOW. We have to admit they are more aware than we would like to think they are. But they take their cues from "us", the adults in their lives. Because death is so abstract, it is easy to make video games and movies death-ridden. If it were not so fascinating (because it was so scary to adults), then the entertainment factor would be quashed. After all, how much fun would a tax movie be? Sex, Death, and Money are the scariest / most interesting things in life. Lets get scared together.
04/18/2006 02:00:03 PM
I agree with the essayist. If you look at the old old traditions, Easter was a Whoop-It-Up holiday. However, since death is now hidden away from children, they have no means for appreciating what "we" (adults) are blathering on about. Christmas is easy because our marketeers target birth, children, etc ... It is fairly hard to market death, And, in our market culture, if you can't market it, it might as well not exist. We need to learn how to talk with children about death. It's not like they don't know it happens. For many it is a BIG Mystery that scares the adults, so no one talks about it. Maybe some of the "grown-ups" need to grow up a bit more.
04/18/2006 10:26:07 AM
Easter is my time to be reminded of what Jesus did for me, He has given the Christian hope and peace in regard to our earthly death and His promise of life eternal. His death also demonstrates patience, love and forgiveness in His suffering and death on the Cross. It is a time for me to feel humility and great love for what He did for me.
04/17/2006 09:33:19 PM
poet, I think I could live with folks like you very well.
04/17/2006 08:44:57 PM
nnmns - I definitely think we agree on much. I think you'regenerous to say "not all Christians act in ways beneficial to the world" - I would say the populist Christian movement in the US is extremely damaging to both the faith and our nation. The church I attend belongs to the Disciples of Christ, which very specifically does not require creedal statements or agreements from members, other than a willingness to follow Christ, and expects you to grow in your faith by testing and learning. In other words, ya gotta think! While not all are, our particular congregation is what I would consider quite progressive. The minister herself is not sold on the idea of a physical resurrection of Christ (which leads to some interesting Easter sermons...), but the beliefs of the congregation vary on this matter. And regarding proselytizing, I think it's probably the most inefficient means there is of demonstrating one's faith. I imagine by now Jesus is pretty sick of hearing his name in a lot of crappy songs...
04/17/2006 08:20:25 PM
poet, I don't mean to denigrate anyone's serious efforts to help others (except when they mainly amount to proselytizing them to one's own belief system) and I didn't realize I had. I appreciated some of your postings below and what you say your pastor said. On Beliefnet I've found Christians I largely agreed with (except for the magic part) and Christians I often agree with and Christians I rarely agree with. I'm hopeful you are one of the former and from your statement of faith I suspect you are. As you must have noticed, not all Christians act in ways beneficial to the world. I see a lot of danger from those who would prevent teaching real biology and sex education and prevent effective family planning and a whole list of other things based (often) on their literal interpretation of the Bible rather than reasoning based on facts. But I do realize many Christians aren't like that and I hope they take back their faith, or at least the major effects it has on our country and the world.
04/17/2006 06:54:31 PM
nnmms - Not sure what you meant by the angst angle. Christ recognized the world was flawed and that we should be doing something about it. Is it really fair to negate someone's effort to see economic justice done because it's part of their faith? I think it's unfair to say an atheist seeking justice somehow has purer motives, since a materialist worldview kind of says altruism is evolved from survival behaviors. Our pastor's Easter sermon was about NOT letting something like faith in an afterlife prevent you from living out Jesus' teachings about living in this world. Maybe to you Jesus was just one philosopher among many, but at the very least it's a philosophy that lends itself to justice. If in the end I'm wrong and there's nothing but an idea, I'm trying to follow the best idea I've heard (well, before it turned into fish bumper magnets...) As far as the "God-shaped hole," there are a lot of cute, easy, pop-Xian cliches that do nothing but provide straw men for Skeptics.
04/17/2006 06:39:32 PM
Sorry - should have referenced Bravo88, not JackNY re: failures of Marxism.
04/17/2006 06:37:43 PM
Baggins - Marxist? Please! A 5# can of coffee benefits your grocer disproportionately to the person in Columbia who has to live in a shack because picking coffee - very difficult labor! - is not valued as much as marketing coffee. Is it just that the CEO of Acme Coffee gets a mansion by underpaying employees? Extrapolate this to products across the board. As I understand it, Marxism is an externally imposed system that attempts (and as JackNY points us, usually fails) to distribute wealth equally. IMO, Christianity is an internally-driven worldview that asks (among many other things) whether it is just to value my desire for cheaper coffee over someone else's need to eat. Or, as Jesus so aptly put it, if you have two coats and your neighbor has none, give one to him! Few of us have the "privilege" of *directly* taking advantage of the poor, but we do it indirectly every day. Say it with me: "Wal-Mart."
04/17/2006 06:18:42 PM
wife, well said about other nations. You are spot on.
04/17/2006 06:15:48 PM
This whole angst thing has been covered by a lot of philosophers, many atheists. The upshot is, no god is needed. When you imagine that without a god there would be a god-shaped hole in your life it's because you were raised to think there was a god-shaped feature in the universe which in fact isn't there. And if you need a holy purpose to feel fulfilled, with people all around you needing help and a world to try to improve for our children, or if you need for there to be an afterlife in order for fairness to happen when you could be fighting for fairness right now, it’s a shameful waste of a life. Nobody guaranteed a perfect universe. Suck it up and work with the one you’ve got.
04/17/2006 06:10:02 PM
Not to hijack the board but there are other countries that do much better Bravo than the US at dealing with poverty, at lessening the gaps between those at the bottom to those at the top, and at providing the basic needs of every citizen, etc. In fact, the US is one of the worst of the civilized nations in these areas and others like them, and it also happens to be one of the least generous all around. Even Americans themselves are pretty stingy in how little they give to one another personally, as compared to other nations. Some of the more socialist nations do much better. I think Americans are *too* capitalist for our own good, and not very Christ like at all in our attitude towards the poor. Its embarassing. "Christian Nation" we are not.
04/17/2006 06:05:56 PM
She has just disregarded the things Jesus said about how to live by saying all that wouldn't matter if he hadn't done his magic trick. If Jesus were alive now I'd think he'd be kind of upset.
04/17/2006 02:47:05 PM
To me, the question is NOT whether one has to believe in the divinity of Jesus, the literalness of the supernatural stories that have arisen around him, in order to receive his message of love. To me, that whole issue misses the point. "Love one another", "Judge not" "Turn the other cheek" and so on are statements of basic human wisdom. If we do these things we will lead happier lives. These truths are found worldwide across religions and societies. We really don't have to believe that Jesus rose from the dead to access these truths. I also believe that, while these truths may be easy to say or acknowledge, actually doing them on a deep level is pretty radical. Jesus' teachings are very radical, even without the supernatural beliefs. How many of us TRULY turn the other cheek? How many of us truly love the poor and downtrodden? Personally, I think the real question is not whether Jesus actually rose from the dead. The true question is : How do we cultivate that kind of radical love?
04/17/2006 02:28:28 PM
Throughout the world there is poverty...there are poor and homeless in the national capitals. Washington D.C. is an example of wealth and poverty as is my own hometown of Vancouver, BC. There are people sleeping in tents by railway tracks...families living below the poverty line...homeless couples... Do the Marxists, Communists, Socialists do any better than the capitalists; I would say no; all of these systems get hijacked by the powerful and greedy... Even countries where the group is more important than the individual have the vast ranges of wealth and poverty because people in all systems have a capacity for selfishness as well as selflessness.
04/17/2006 11:21:36 AM
"When the greatest problem facing the poor in America is obesity, calling them the downtrodden and poverty stricken is nothing more than agitprop." Another distraction that the "haves" of the country (and world) like to argue. Since its doubtful that youre a Rockefeller, you should rethink your position. Otherwise youre like a cigarette lobbyist with lung cancer. Somebody is playing you (and its isnt the have-nots like youve been told) And I hope youre not arguing that there isnt poverty in this country? Or is it that its 'not THAT bad?' And you call yourself a Baggins?!! ; )
04/17/2006 11:17:58 AM
"If you will take an objective look at the world, you will find that the greatest grinding poverty, and the most opulent wealth are in those countries with the most restrictive economies and oppressive governments." That is a very misleading statement Baggins. The reality is that there is a HUGE disparity between the rich and the poor in THIS country. Thats a fact. Anything that attempts to distract us from that fact is rhetoric with an agenda.
04/17/2006 10:19:43 AM
poet, Your comment: "(which is really how you become a "have"...)" couldn't be more wrong. When I trade with my fellow man (conduct business) we both gain. I do not gain at his expense. He obtains something he did not have before and so do I. Your understanding of "have" and "have not" is the result of Marxist thought and has no bearing on the reality of trade and industry. If you will take an objective look at the world, you will find that the greatest grinding poverty, and the most opulent wealth are in those countries with the most restrictive economies and oppressive governments. There are people in the world who would risk their lives to enjoy the standard of living the American "poor" enjoy. When the greatest problem facing the poor in America is obesity, calling them the downtrodden and poverty stricken is nothing more than agitprop.
04/17/2006 09:27:28 AM
And when I say true love and justice are not appealing for me, I mean that in the very basic sense that if I truly submitted myself to seeking justice, I wouldn't seek a nice home and abundant food for myself until everyone had them; I would be giving away much more of what I have to those who truly need it. Christ was crucified in large part for scolding the "haves" for directly and indirectly taking advantage of the "have nots" (which is really how you become a "have"...). As with many causes today, religion was the ostensible reason for the crucifixion, a rallying point for the masses, but was in truth only a facade for those seeking to retain power. Until I can say "Yep, I can live without cable and internet access and movie night if it means someone else gets to eat," I am no different than the hypocrites who crucified Christ. I believe God forgives me through love, but it doesn't mean I'm worthy of forgiveness. I'm working on it, though.
04/17/2006 09:14:20 AM
Daldianus - "so Jesus' mission could have been accomplished with him dying of old age in a rocking chair?" Not exactly what I said, is it? I happen to believe Christ's death was inevitable because he spoke truth to power. I don't believe God sent him TO die, but sent him DESPITE the fact that he would die. Would Christ have asked if the cup could pass from him, unless there was a choice? But God's will is for us to lead authentic, loving lives, and Christ submitted himself to God's will. In Christ's case, that meant speaking truth until TPTB decided he needed to die. I can't for one moment believe God has set up a system that requires human sacrifice... but I have no trouble believing we have an appetite for it. True love and justice are not appealing to most people (and that includes me), since they require sacrifice. We'd rather sacrifice those who make that demand of us.
04/16/2006 07:42:36 PM
Christ forgave people while he was still alive, he didn't have to die to forgive sins.
04/16/2006 09:09:18 AM
poet: so Jesus' mission could have been accomplished with him dying of old age in a rocking chair? where would the so-called sacrifice have been then? I thought that 'sacrifice' was needed to atone Humankind's 'sins'?
04/16/2006 08:31:26 AM
The problem with Easter is, of course, that you have to believe in the blood sacrifice and resurrection to rejoice. It's quite possible that there is no God to care for us and wipe our tears. Pain and suffering might be meaningless and unredeemable. I take Easter very seriously because I can't believe in any of it!
04/16/2006 08:28:44 AM
Not all Christians embrace "blood atonement" theology. IMHO, given the political and religious disruption he was causing, Jesus was definitely headed for the cross, but because of man's will not God's. God's will was that even death would not stop the message of Christ, and the resurrection (physical or metaphorical) fulfilled that will. While I celebrate Easter, I will be praying that Christianity as a whole can overcome the very traits of tribalism and judgement that Jesus spoke against. I find it ironic that so many of those who are most eager for the rapture are, in my mind, raising the false Christian leaders they fear. Blood language seems to be a big part of that mind set.
04/16/2006 07:59:25 AM
I definitely prefer the Easter Bunny to the blood sacrifice thing.
05/11/2003 09:53:03 PM
We strip the altar as the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday service, with our organist playing rather dirge-sounding background melody as the acolytes, priests, and Altar Guild remove everything and then drape all the crosses in black. My 7 year old daughter came out feeling very sad, knowing that the night in Gethsemane would be an unhappy time for Jesus. I think it really added much to her understanding of Easter this year, and made her all the more joyous about the empty tomb. One thing I wish the USA would adopt is the English custom of closing everything (e.g. schools, shops) on Easter Monday. It'd be nice for those who choose to celebrate to have an extra day to honor the Resurrection.
04/22/2003 05:47:03 AM
America's lackluster celebration of the resurrection has much to do with the spiritual state of our country, in my opinion. A central Orthodox tenet is that suffering is the only way to get close to God (i.e., the Cross) -- however, we as a culture don't like that. We like creature comforts, innovations, modern technology, money. The problem is, God wants us to focus on HIM. We as a culture, as my priest of blessed memory used to say, have forgotten about Him. This is to our detriment, since, as a result, it's very difficult for many Americans to experience the JOY of Christianity, the perfect peace.
04/22/2003 03:07:36 AM
I think it is very important to remember that the Resurrection is not some pretty idea of what happens to one’s spirit after someone dies. Nor is it a “myth to live by” The Resurrection is a concrete reality. A person isn't something that can be cut up and survive. This includes a soul a spirit and a physical body. The Scriptures and the Church don’t simply teach some pre-Christian Greek idea such as that Plato spoke of that understands one’s specter to go to some netherlands, what it does teach is a real, concrete, physical Resurrection. Yep, I’ve heard all the blind childish “this is the modern world” or “this is the 21st Century” statements as if reality is different today. It’s funny; these same arguments were made two millennia ago. The point is not Christ hanging on the Cross but on Jesus not being in the tomb. Christ ripped “a new one” out of Hell!
04/02/2002 08:54:43 AM
Having experienced Easter in another (christian) country for several years, I can say that the wishy-washyness of Easter seems to be a North American phenomenon. In Central America Easter has all, if not more, the hype, excitement and preparation as Christmas, and it is all done with profound meaning. Holy Week is of all importance, as well as all the re-enactments, processions, parades and religious gatherings. It is truly a special time of year that we sadly overlook here in the US.
04/01/2002 12:15:51 AM
A short reply to paringa1. If Jesus were to arrive in Australia by boat,do you not think that his conscience and or consciousness would allow him to NOT have the correct documentation and approvals? I dont believe that he was into ignoring or abusing the law of the land.
03/31/2002 11:53:37 PM
As a poor single woman, Easter is much better than Christmas. While the excitement of Christmas is about, well, getting stuff and partying with family and friends, Easter is about a much more personal, intangible journey from the dankness of winter, Lent, sin and death to the glory of rebirth, light, and hope. You don't need lots of rich friends to give yourself the gift of going to church, meditating (at least for a week or two) on the Bible, and attending services. Feeling reborn and renewed is as good as anything bought in a store and wrapped in paper. The reason why Easter seems drab (at least in America) is an underemphasis on Easter Vigil as opposed to Good Friday, that un-holiday when banks are closed but no one seems happy about it, and the milkwater nature of Easter Sunday Morning, when churches try their best to project cheeriness and friendliness for the once-a-year crowd. Putting the drama back into the story would help.
03/31/2002 07:42:11 PM
this is the first easter I have experienced since doing Alpha, and the one with the most meaning for me. The sad part is that now, 2000yrs on, I don't think we've changed. We would still do the same thing to Jesus, especially if he arrived in Australia by boat.
03/31/2002 08:31:12 AM
My favorite holy season...He is risen indeed!!!
03/25/2002 09:22:28 PM
Try this on for size! I think of Easter as a time to celebrate the transformation of Jesus from the physical to the spiritual and everlasting life. What better to way to celebrate that transformation than to undergo some sort of transformation in our own lives? Look for some way to make this a better world, nothing big, just something fairly easy to do like telling people they are appreciated or loved. Maybe even try it on family members, like children, parents, and spouses. What a novel idea! But a real transformation needs to be permanent; there is the tough part. I think I will first of all try for a week, then push that to a month. It might even become permanent.
04/17/2001 09:09:38 PM
Truly, He is risen!
04/17/2001 04:28:04 PM
Christ Is Risen!
04/14/2001 03:12:29 PM
Easter is about the triumph of God's grace over that tragic death and the human sin which caused it. Too often, we want to rush past the pain of the cross and just embrace the sweet and even cute images of faith. But suffering and death are universal and inescapable parts of the human condition. For me, it is a powerful statement of love trhat God embraced that suffering for our sake. If you ignore this part of the staory, the glory and joy are also diminished.
04/14/2001 10:34:22 AM
I think Easter is too sad for most children. They won't see the joy of Christ saving us all, or His love for us. They'll just see that God's son was brutally murdered. Nails through His wrists, thorns on His head, hanging from a big cross while the crowds shouted insults at him. After I heard the story of Easter as a young child, I couldn't block the image of a man slowly dying whenever I saw the cross. I didn't want to celebrate THAT, and I didn't really understand why He was dying. My other point is that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. No Christmas, no Jesus, no Easter, no Christianity.