Christ Carrying the Cross

Christ Carrying the Cross

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Brief Thoughts for a(n Easter) Sunday

And so we come to the end of my whirlwind marathon of blogging--three posts in three days. I've spent the weekend considering what the three verses of the hymn "Here Hangs a Man Discarded" can say for me (or us, if any other poor souls happen upon this blog) on an Easter weekend approximately 1983 years after a muckraking Palestinian Jew was nailed to a cross, and approximately 130 years after Friedrich Nietzsche pronounced the death of God in The Gay Science

This Easter Sunday post will be more difficult for me than the previous two, which will likely come as a surprise to most Christians, seeing as it is officially designated as "Best. Day. Ever." in the official Church calender. The reasons I have for my ambiguous relationship to the Resurrection have been for a long while scattered and inconsistent at best, but I was amazed to read a couple days ago a post on Homebrewed Christianity by the inimitable Tripp Fuller which almost perfectly encapsulates my feelings. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but for time's sake I will list them all here:

  1. The resurrection of Jesus is a denial of the one true democracy - death.
  2. The resurrection of Jesus is a theological justification for turning our attention upwards towards a heavenly realm.
  3. The resurrection of Jesus is an enormous theological distraction and misguidedly attempts to tie up all truth's loose ends.
  4. The resurrection of Jesus reeks of triumphalism.
I want very much to be able to whole-heartedly embrace the resurrection, even if it is simply as the existential affirmation of living with the other, in spite of death as I suggested in the first two posts. It's difficult though, as the above points make abundantly clear. I don't believe in the afterlife, and to gloss over the effects of death--whether physical, spiritual or emotional--is to engage in a semi-literal disavowal of death. As I pointed out already, resurrection without a true understanding of death is impotent.

But if there is a central theme to all of this crazy, unwieldy mess, I think it's that love is stronger than death. This is actually something both myself and the evangelical church can agree on. The philosopher Simon Critchley (videos of Critchley speaking with Cornel West here) speaks a lot about the idea that the only way to live well is to learn to die well, but even more importantly to be able to love. For love to be the infinite force driving our lives, even into the eventual arms of death, is the best way to be in the world because it was only through love that Saint Paul was able to ask "O death, where is your sting?" So maybe the answer to the question is Yes, resurrection is possible after all.

I haven't directly talked about that final verse yet, so perhaps I will just leave it here to be pondered in the light of everything that has already been said:

And love that freely entered
the pit of life's despair,
can name our hidden darkness
and suffer with us there.
Christ, in our darkness risen,
help all who long for light
to hold the hand of promise,
'til faith receives its sight.


Until tomorrow, and the next, and the next.

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