Easter Rant

March 19, 2008 at 8:45 am Leave a comment

The focal point of the Christian Year is coming this weekend! It’s a busy time with St. Patrick’s Day, the spring equinox and Easter all a few days apart. My friend, Lynn, mentioned that she heard this was the earliest Easter will come for the next 200 years. Perhaps this timing has special meaning at this particular point in this realm of space and time.

With Easter and the vernal equinox so close together, it’s easy to see why the early church appropriated the vernal equinox as the time to celebrate Easter. It co-opted the pagan, rebirth/ life from death theme, of spring and made it the symbol for the crucifixion or Easter story. This story was the major cornerstone in the foundation of the early church. It was a powerful message: God caused his own son, Jesus, to be executed as a sacrifice for the evil intent within us. As Christ, he miraculously “defeated” death, symbolizing immortality of the Spirit (even though the body dies) … oh, uh, only if you believe He is the only true God. Presuming that the Christian God is the only true God has, over the centuries, been the root of much conflict with folks who think differently. That’s a whole lot of killing over a story that may well be just that; a story, a parable.

Michael Baigent in his book, “The Jesus Papers,” addresses the crucifixion/ resurrection. In addition, he recounts the Roman Church’s agenda to suppress documents that would undermine their enterprise and he examines what may have happened with Jesus during those missing years not mentioned in the Bible. However, the climax of Baigent’s book alludes to some secreted papers (The Jesus Papers) that he says he has seen, consisting of a letter or two, supposedly written to Pilate by Jesus, explaining what he really meant intimating that he was God. To write these he must have therefore survived the crucifixion, so Baigent postulates that Jesus’ crucifixion was staged and that, although injured, he survived, recovered and moved to Egypt, then France and raised a family with Mary Magdalene. Could this be true?

I disagree that Jesus survived the crucifixion. I think this is what most likely happened. Jesus was simply executed and the body disposed of. It was common for the bodies of crucifixion victims to be tossed on the rubbish pile just outside the city, making recovery simple, and there is a possibility that this is what happened to Jesus. Even if it didn’t, somehow, from somewhere, Jesus’ wife, Mary of Magdala, acquired his body for simple burial. Mary would have gained much enlightenment from her husband Jesus, and after his death, I think she attempted to carry on his ministry but was edged out and vilified by the men (Peter, James and Paul) jockeying for position to lead and control the movement. The rest is history. The early church became a praetorian juggernaught and its power has lasted right up until today. However, the discovery of documents, such as the Dead Sea scrolls and others, have given us a glass (dim though it may be) with which to review the Jesus story. The emerging image seems different than the cannon of the Bible would have us believe. Foundation stones of the Christian church may crumble as a result. Would a new, realistic interpretation be the death knell for Christianity? No, but hopefully, it would be the death knell for the adulterated, bastard behemoth that the early church became. I believe we are at or near a point to refresh Christianity and reinvigorate Jesus’ teachings and message. We can shed the divisive, self-serving corruptions of Jesus’ message and move on to live his proclamation of forgiveness, love and inclusion. Christians could then tread their particular path among the various religions of the world, freed from expounding the foolish claim to be the ultimate and only truth.

Stripped of its theatrics, the message of Easter will still be the same: The Spirit within is real, is eternal, is constantly reborn in hope and is our connection to ultimate being.

Have I rattled your cage?

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Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

Jesus Was a Sailor To My Surprise

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