Easter, for a huge number of people, is a time for regeneration. Christians believe, believed or make-believe they believe that God in the form of man died on the cross, and three days later triumphed over death by rising again in full glory and going up to heaven. His tomb was left bare, but his friends, amongst them Mary Magdalene, a woman of questionable past, saw him and spoke to Him. Thus was death beaten and sin redeemed by the son of God.
That’s the story; a truly grand story of how the Christian religion was founded and flourished. At first, at least according to the Hollywood epics of old, the Romans tried getting rid of the pesky Christians by feeding them to the lions. They—the Christians not the lions—sang away while being mauled. Then when the lions had had enough, Rome too changed course and became the biggest supporter of the new religion.
Fickle the Romans definitely are: from lion-feeding frenzy they moved on to become the most vociferous Christians, establishing the Holy See with the Pope as Pontifex Maximus on their home ground. But then redemption has strange ways they say.
If we look at the story of Easter the greatest part of it surely is the glory, the resurrection, the rising up to heaven. I’m far from a theologian; I’m just a sinner, a Christian and scribbler with a smidgen of knowledge which I know can be a surefire disaster.
But even if I get myself hauled off to Rome to face the lions I will go on singing this tune. If any suffering, any tragedy suffered by man or woman is overcome and the end result is victory over death or sickness or whatever obstacle, then ideally—unless we are morbid—surely we should celebrate the victory not the suffering. Don’t forget the suffering, but no need to wallow in it.
The same should be done with God as Man: He suffered; He, according to the scriptures, won against death and defamation so we should only see and talk about the victory.
Seeing the suffering Christ, strung to a pillar, blood oozing down his brow, knees bruised, head splattered with blood from his crown of thorns, is not conducive to thinking grand thoughts of redemption. It is in fact macabre, close to sado-masochism. How children do not cry out in horror and pain and suffer nightmares when statues of the beaten Christ are shown in various towns, villages and churches, is beyond belief. But the risen Christ in all his glory is something children of all ages are happy to see and enjoy.
I know that these words will be seen as heresy—but I would also change the idea of using the cross as the central part of the Christian religion. More reason for me to be fed to the Roman lions.
That Christ was crucified like a terrible criminal is central to his story, but not the whole story. Above altars, in the most prominent place I would— forgive my arrogance—have the glorious depiction of a risen Christ, a festive, joyous sight for all suffering souls to see.
To me, ignoramus that I am, hope is in the glory; suffering, injustices and bombings are all too common. The glory at the end of it all is what would make any believer, and I believe even non-believers, turn all plight into a bearable cross.
The idea of the risen Christ still works wonders. As a tale that captivated a few peasants first, then a whole swathe of people around Jerusalem, till two millennia after it is now the chosen religion of many millions—isn’t that one of the greatest stories ever told?
Even if the historical Christ did not rise from the dead, the story of a dead man, the son of a carpenter, whose words electrified so many people in so many corners of the globe, is definitely on a par with rising from the dead.
His suffering, his blood is not for me to see or enjoy; and I hardly need to see it in all its torrid Technicolor gore. Let the glory be the great story to tell, remember and celebrate.