Cosmology / Theology /
Happy Easter, 2013.
I said when I first posted this piece that I’d move the date, adjust the time, to keep it near the top of the blog, till Easter Day. I shuffled everything else too, what a mess, chronological confusion, but for a purpose: a set of purposes.
I’m remembering Easter egg hunts from my childhood. I’m remembering the lessons of my Sunday school that Easter was THE major Christian holiday: gee, and hadn’t we all thought it was Christmas? We certainly acted as if it were Christmas. No: Easter! my church insisted: not Jesus’ birth; Jesus’ resurrection!
The first Easter egg hunts I remember were affairs local to my neighborhood. There were lots of families with kids: nuclear families: children, a mommy, a dad lurking somewhere. The mom would color hard boiled eggs for Easter, simple colors, patterns, very appealing to toddlers on up. The mom would position colored eggs around the garden, around the lawn, the kids would go looking, finding, sometimes carrying a basket for collecting. Sometimes neighbors’ kid were invited. I remember the thrill of looking and finding, I remember getting help when I wasn’t quite as swift as other kids who’d done this before.
I remember a village-scale hunt, at a school property, where the new high school would soon be built, me in the first graduating class. I was no longer three, or four; I was six, or seven: maybe I was thirteen. My daddy was no longer lurking about, my mommy had no time for Easter egg hunts. But somehow I got to the grounds: a ride, my bicycle. The hunt however was over, I got not one egg, not one candy. But that’s OK: I got plenty else: then, and since: fer instance, the questions that follow.
The first Easter egg hunts recalled above were simple affairs: one mother placed eggs around the yard, some in plain sight, some half-hidden by a bush or other plant, maybe one three-quarters obscured by a tree and the ground maze of the tree’s roots. The mother knew how many eggs she colored and then seeded the yard with, she knew how many kids she set to looking. She knew how many of the eggs were gathered by how many of the kids.
I doubt that the community Easter egg hunt had such a precise awareness of inventory, location, or discovery. Hell, they declared a quorum before the kids had finished arriving, I doubt that anyone counted how many eggs went out, how many came in. They salted the new school’s estate, then cleaned up the wreckage. A raccoon may have gotten one of the eggs, several of the eggs, and a snake or two.
Now, does any of this have any correspondence with the universe? Has God salted the cosmos with eggs? or candies? of any sort? How about hints: lessons a creature would benefit by learning? Does God keep track of how many of the hints get picked up on?
I see one: if God sends his son to tell us how we can best exploit the opportunities of existence, how beneficial to our survival is it to sandbag him? trap him, give him a kangeroo trial, torture him, kill him?
Oh, but that wasn’t an Easter egg hunt; that was Easter itself! kill the God so he can show us how much he loves us, and forgive us. Christmas has an evergreen tree, Easter: eggs, bunnies, chicks. We were supposed to kill Jesus, God must have wanted us to.
But what about all the other messages we intercepted, sabotaged? all the other messengers that got their tongues cut out? Once we’d killed Jesus, were we then even more saved when we killed Peter?
And how many Jesuses were there before the Jesus we’ve heard about? Was Jesus Jesus1? Jesus3? JesusN?
None of this is rational, realize. Theologians tell us that it’s miraculous, Jesus Jesus1, we’re not supposed to understand it. St Paul’s rhetoric against reason is as good as any paroxysms Hitler came out with. Still, the list gets pretty incredible: Luther said we should read the Bible for ourselves: the Pope put out a contract on him. Wyclif had already gotten cut off at the ankles.
In our own time (or, only fifty years ago) Ivan Illich tried to show Christians (and the Church) how to become perhaps a little bit truly Christian: tried to warn kleptocrats about culture and market imperialisms, I tried to help him. He got defrocked. So he wrote best sellers. I wrote supporting explorations, had been before I met him. His books got sabotaged, not reissued, stolen from libraries … My books weren’t published, my speeches interrupted, my behavior underreported.
Is this really part of our salvation? Does God intend quite that much of a miracle? Or is it just Lot that’s getting saved? the Sodomies who want to rape the angels are just slated for destruction?
Here’s a related wonderment: is salvation really binary? That is, is one either saved or damned? no fractions? If Peter denied Christ, should he be at least part damned? Where does he get off tending Heaven’s gate?
According to the oldest manuscript we have of the gospel of Mark, the angel tells Mary to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen. But she doesn’t, at least not at first, she goes home, afraid, and hides! How damned is Mary? 1%? 90%?
I think I’ve got my own pile of sins, yet I still think that I’m as good a disciple of Christ as Peter was, certainly better than Mary: how damned am I?
How damned is everyone else? who stood with their thumb in their ass while I was interrupted? not-published? arrested? jailed? tormented? given a kangaroo trial? censored!?
How damned are those who pretend that our elections are democratic? our markets “free”? our universities supportive of intellect?
My original note to launch this effort said “Easter hunt, camouflage”: the camouflage side is still undeveloped and not an immediate itch, no sure telling what I was thinking.
I’ll keep changing the date of this post until it’s actually Easter so it will stay near the top of the blog till then.
PS: Alternate Universes
What if events were different? Imagine that we killed Jesus! but then, miracle of miracles, did not kill Peter! or Sebastian! Imagine that brilliant Abelard did not get castrated, that the Pope took Luther to lunch … that Bishop Wilberforce actually understood Darwin! and applauded him! Imagine that the Church didn’t burn heretics by the thousand or mutilate women by the tens of thousands..
Good, huh? Yeah: but we still killed the one who was the god! Like the team cheated to win the championship but only cheated by one run, instead of eleven.
Similarly, conversely, we could imagine that Lincoln still turned his blooded generals on the plains Indians, but that he truly freed the slaves: really: that no poor tar baby ever got railroaded through a trial to get quick convict labor. We’d still be genocidal kleptocrats; but perhaps less damned.
The possibilities are, I don’t doubt, infinite, or at least endless: or, no end imaginable.
I meant to add something else: and maybe work back in some earlier prose I scratched from this draft. I be back.