April 1, 2018

easter

If you push me to say that all the molecules in Jesus’ body were summoned together and the processes of death reversed and Jesus just got up out of that grave and went through a few walls and that’s what resurrection is all about, I think you’re missing the point.  I can’t tell you how God raised Jesus within history.  I, like most theologians— process or not—am convinced that resurrection is something utterly different from resuscitation ... Resurrection is the power of God to overcome evil, to bring hope to otherwise hopeless situations, to make creative transformation possible no matter what.  -Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki

I overslept this morning and missed the sunrise, along with the "Son Rise" services that dotted the lawns of churches all over these mountains.  I never could understand why the ladies of our church hit that tiny kitchen early enough to make scrambled eggs and toast for over a hundred people, just so we could all stumble out of bed while it was still dark out and show up at church in order to capitalize on a mighty pun.

So what the hell does Easter mean to an atheist who still allows, a smidge, for the possibility of a process theology-modeled god?

You see it all the time in the liberal feeds of many of my Facebook friends.  All the "Jesus was a rebel" and "Jesus was a bleeding heart liberal" stuff.  I was almost thirty before I heard the "Jewish zombie" bit.  I still grin.

But you've got me here:  Jesus lives.

Jesus is alive whenever we get together to march angrily in political protest against a government doing things we believe are profoundly wrong.

Jesus is alive when a teenager stands up and questions the status quo and throws down the gauntlet before those who sit in power.

Jesus is alive when someone famous realizes he or she has great potential to influence and uses that potential well.

There is nothing supernatural about it.  A group of people believed a thing, and told that thing to others in such a way as to make it a big thing, big enough to lead to written recordings and martyrdom and canonization.  Proliferation resulting from determination and lucky chance gave way to the rise and almost immediate variegation of several major religions.  The path is dotted with impassioned belief and fervent prayer, wanton murder and sanctioned massacre, and interpretation through any number of lenses over the meandering course of a couple thousand years.

No, there is nothing supernatural about it.  Yeshua lives today because of very, very human things.  He's no different from composers and writers and rulers who live on.  I think the only real miracle here is the written word.  They all live on because we are able to know about them.

I roll my eyes when I see the three crosses with the middle one draped in purple in front of evangelical churches every spring.  But there is the crux:  My friends who fight for good do it because they read the same book others did and came away with a different understanding.  There was this guy in history and they try to emulate him and the Greek-influenced ideas and principles attributed to him.  Loving your fellow man and caring for the poor were pretty new ideas to the scene.  Hating the rich and powerful were old and still endure today.  It's not difficult to take away the words so many early Christians put in his mouth and see the charismatic idealist who made the news that year. 

For my part, he was probably decent enough, if you strip away the misogyny and other culturally ingrained bits that I personally find not so much to my liking.  I see the stories and images of men and women in the Civil Rights Movement, protesting in the sixties, knowing they would definitely be arrested and beaten and might be killed, and doing it anyway.  I see a half-emo teenager who decides to rebel just to be different, accidentally gets two hundred thousand Twitter followers, matures a little and sees the opportunity to aim at something and take it down, and unwittingly nudges an ongoing movement forward.  I see a woman who makes a good salary but lives near the poverty line herself because she pays the rent and buys groceries for a struggling immigrant family in the apartment complex next to her house, until they can get on their feet.  And then she does it again for another family.

There's your Yeshua.

He lives.

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