Saturday, March 26, 2016


Plenty of fiction surrounds Christianity's corporate worship of Eastertide, including the season itself. 

No, the Christ didn't arise to cheat death and win salvation for segments of humankind who acknowledge His vicarious redemption. Similarly there's nothing to goddess myths and fertility rites. 

It's all hooey. 

One admirable takeaway from the confused and muddled writings of 20th century goofball Joseph Campbell is his novel discovery to enjoy the believer's belief on ones own level, own terms.

Campbell was atheistic in the sense he could travel and leap from one crazy religious idea to another with little trouble, both racking up literacy and respect for all myths' commonalities. 

He was among the first to popularize how a great many religions came with similar origin stories, always floods and cataclysms, awaiting a divine Hero to deliver the in-group from sure and ultimate destruction.

That's telling, and though Campbell had no formal scientific training he randomly hit upon an idea softer sciences are carrying forward: religion is innate to human survival, or at least was, and all human cultures have experienced these revelatory aspects in one form or another ... often without having had interaction with one another. 

Within the human experience, therefore, is the temptation to just-so stories, to explain away our collective predicament, to sort through existence and fill it with meaning. 

One thing is for sure true: it is we, and only we, who infuse meaning into the world. 

Lower animals do not, or at least not consistently. Nature works at murdering any life form that attempts to stick around too long. To paraphrase Hobbes, life is nasty, a violent affair on its own, and terribly short.

Humans push at this tension in a myriad of ways, through the glories of commerce and trade, through scientific discoveries, through medicine. All of these are uprisings against nature. Far from accepting life as it is presented to us, humans engage in literal fisticuffs against sure death, against natural orders. 

Mechanics apply their trade to keep vehicles from erosion and gravity's wear and push against engines. Welders fuse metals to prevent the elements outside from murdering those inside. On it goes. 

The Christ resurrection myth has been written about perhaps more than any other single subject. There isn't a whole not new to offer on the idea. I won't pretend at having discovered novel insight. 

But I do think it's worth repeating on this level: The Christ did rebel, at a glance and without too much rabbit hole debating, against the existing order. 

He chose to live outside its confines, to associate himself in a manner pleasing to His desires. He did what He did, taking little thought to the world immediately around Him. 

That He ultimately prevails, according to His followers, and ascends to Heaven, vowing to return a final time ... well, it's all too silly to spend much time on.

I can take from Easter its central, unspoken message: rebirth. It is possible to recast life, maybe hobbled from our past, maybe not as sprite as we once were, but it is possible to rise from the situation we find ourselves. We can rise again. We can really cheat sure death ... for a while, extending, twisting, like a piece of juicy fruit, drops of life out of meaninglessness. 

That's a beautiful message. 

I love Eastertide for this reason. Every return the Christ myth reminds me how critical it is to begin again.

And I mean it.



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