Saturday, April 7, 2007

An Agnostic Considers Easter...

Today was Good Friday, wasn’t it? I was so busy that I hardly gave it a moment’s thought. Some small remnant of the faith of my Mother (I was raised Catholic) has me anticipating the fires of hell, or at the very least purgatory, for not acknowledging the day. For not feeling anything. And for not even remotely regretting that I felt nothing.

Driving up Highway 30 to the county seat, one passes at least a half dozen churches, most with illuminated reader-board signs standing sentinel at their driveways. Today, as we trundled up the highway to set up for the Easter Egg Hunt, I perused each of those reader boards. Sighed at some. Frowned at others. I honestly don’t know whether to be charmed by their naivete or peeved at their small-mindedness.

These days, when I consider those concepts that used to seem so powerful to me-- "Christ has vanquished death and Satan!"; "He is risen, just like he said!"; "Come to our Sonrise service on Easter!" —they just seem…too small. Too weak. Too much a matter of encapsulating the Divine into something the human mind can attempt to comprehend. Sort of.

One of the churches made a particular point of inviting all to their "Resurrection Day" service. Ahhh, yes. Those head-over-heels born-againers who refuse to apply the pagan term "Easter" to this most glorious Christian holiday. That same stupid crap was put forth 25 years ago when I was attempting, mostly unsuccessfully, to live the life of a good little young Christian wife. Even then, I thought it was a little, shall we say, anal retentive…

What I have since learned is that Christianity has a history….and, like all human religion, it is as much a political vehicle as a sacred one. And political power is measured in numbers. How many of "Us" are there, versus how many of "Them." So, in the dawning days of the movement, compromises were made—small concessions, little tweaks of the orthodoxy—in order to appeal to and win over the "pagans." In order to post more numbers in the "Us" column, and subtract from "Them."

Unfortunately, the new Christian Right is all about denying the history of Christianity. They want to say, "Everything starts from square one as of now. The Gospels, The Epistles, The Old Testament—those are all in. Two thousand intervening years of political machinations, power mongering and cultural concessions—those are out." After all, those things might make us look—god forbid—human!

This Easter, I’m more about considering the promise of spring. The renewal signified by the swelling bright-green leaf buds and bursting blooms in my garden. The dependability of our lovely planet to follow its eternal agenda—the awakening of spring coming on the heels of the slumber of winter. The temporal nature of human "faith" shrinks to insignificance in comparison.


  1. Well, we are in the midst of a blizzard with temps well below 32.  I hope the planet gets back to its eternal agenda soon, altho all news reports yesterday indicated that that will not be the case.

  2. I love it when you explore spirituality, faith and religion in your writing.  I feel like too many Christians have forgotten that the church, while being in the service of God/dess, was created by Man and is as fallible as any man-made thing.  A church or a religion is so much easier to grasp than God/dess.  Honestly, faith in God/dess is truly more a clinging to the aspects of the Divine we do get to glimpse and choosing to believe that the rest is equally wonderful.  In some ways, I see faith like a relationship with a friend we don't know all that well, but whose company and personality we enjoy so much we want to know better.  To continue the analogy, we know our friend is loving, wise and funny, but but we don't know much more than that. However, it is still enough to draw us closer.  So many of those who deify a church or a religion I fear are just trying to hide how little they actually understand of God/dess.  From my perspective, it's okay not to understand too much about God/dess because there's so much there.  No matter how much we do know and understand, it's still miniscule compared to the greatness of the Divine Self.  This weekend, though I'll be celebrating the literal Resurrection, I firmly believe that your celebration of our planet's re-awakening can be equally profound and a celebration of one more aspect of God/dess.

  3. Hmmmph.  I would be inclined to agree with Cynthia -- if I saw any evidence of reawakening out there.  This weather is making me extremely grumpy (but grateful not to be anticipating hiding Easter eggs under the snow).

  4. Happy Oester. I believe there is a glimmer of a reawakening but it's one person at a time and the folks it affects tend to be a quiet bunch. We answer to no heirarchy. There are no statistics, except booksales maybe.

    Your remark about avoiding the term Easter reminded me of last year. One of the Mega church pastors wrote a book a few years ago called The Purpose Driven Life. Last year several of the local churches were advertising 40 Days of Purpose. When I compared the dates I realized they'd managed to use four sterile, techno driven words to replace one word. Lent. Arrrrrrrrgh.

    God/dess forbid we should take some time out to reflect, slow down the treadmill, cut down our cosumption and listen to that still, small voice that is drowned out more and more by the surrouding clamor.  

    40 Days of Purpose. Shuuuuuuuuuudder :-p

    Good luck with the Easter egg hunt. :-)


  5. I don't know if this is the first I've noticed it or if this year everyone I came upon had more interest in knowing what my plans were for Easter. I decided to quit being evasive so as not to offend and quietly stated: "I don't celebrate Easter." I think they all now think I'm Jewish. Oh well!

  6. We didn't do much for Easter this year. Couldn't face church.  I thought about how the pastor has us turn and say to others in our pew, "He is risen!" "Risen indeed!" and it all seemed too silly to me.  At the same time, some part of me wants to believe in it.  For example, when I read news reports about some guy who claims to have found the grave that contains the bones of Jesus, I immediately rejected it.  I do find power in the gospel power of the resurrection, especially in comparing how the apostles were changed by it.  Before Easter, they were cowardly and fearful, and denied knowing Jesus when asked about him by Roman guards.  After Easter, they are transformed, brave, willing to die for their faith. Maybe it's just a great story, but it's one that appeals to me. I'll never have that kind of certainty though.