Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Crossmas!

Why does Easter not carry the same amount of commercialism that Christmas has been consumed by? James Marten has an amazing article today on the finer points of Easter and his writing (for the most part) is amazing.

I go home for Christmas. Why not Easter?

I have Christmas music. Where is the Easter music?

Where is the excitement for Easter, the pinnacle of my faith, that i have for Christmas?

Marten looks at it like this:

"Despite the awesome theological implications (Christians believe that the infant lying in the manger is the son of God), the Christmas story is easily reduced to pablum. How pleasant it is in mid-December to open a Christmas card with a pretty picture of Mary and Joseph gazing beatifically at their son, with the shepherds and the angels beaming in delight. The Christmas story, with its friendly resonances of marriage, family, babies, animals, angels, and—thanks to the wise men—gifts, is eminently marketable to popular culture. It's a Thomas Kinkade painting come to life. On the other hand, a card bearing the image of a near-naked man being stripped, beaten, tortured, and nailed through his hands and feet onto a wooden crucifix is a markedly less pleasant piece of mail.

The Easter story is relentlessly disconcerting and, in a way, is the antithesis of the Christmas story. No matter how much you try to water down its particulars, Easter retains some of the shock it had for those who first participated in the events during the first century. The man who spent the final three years of his life preaching a message of love and forgiveness (and, along the way, healing the sick and raising the dead) is betrayed by one of his closest friends, turned over to the representatives of a brutal occupying power, and is tortured, mocked, and executed in the manner that Rome reserved for the worst of its criminals."

This is just a taste of the brilliance in this article and I really do commend him for taking such time to think this out. I mean he nails it superbly! That said, he also takes his political swipe that is egregious and completely ridiculous:

"We may even sense resonances with some painful political issues still before us. Jesus of Nazareth was not only physically brutalized but also casually humiliated during his torture, echoing the abuses at Abu Ghraib. In 21st-century Iraq, some American soldiers posed prisoners with women's underwear on their heads as a way of scorning their manhood. In first-century Palestine, some Roman soldiers pressed down a crown of thorns onto Jesus' head and clothed him in a purple robe to scorn the kingship his followers claimed for him. After this, Jesus suffered the most degrading of all Roman deaths: crucifixion."

Comparing what the US Soldiers did to those men, while horrendous, to Jesus' flogging and EXECUTION is deplorable and pretty much ruined the brilliance of this article. Either way, I think if you want to read it it is definitely worth the time!


"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Matthew 7:13-14