The meaning of Easter often centers around The Passion of Jesus and bunnies that lay eggs. But to focus on just The Passion means to sometimes fall once again for what theologian Walter Wink calls the “myth of redemptive violence.” This is the belief that all great deeds must come from some act of violence or brutality. A bloody battle ends with peace. Good conquers evil in a show of great force. After a long and difficult labor, a rabbit lays a colored egg.
The Good News, as believed by many, is that we were such rotten SOBs (and still are, by the way) that God needed to balance some cosmic checkbook by sending his son to die for us. This version of the story makes me think of God as a simple-minded person, not the compassionate and all-loving Great Spirit that created the galaxies. When we look at the great vastness of our universe, the potential now for life on planets across light-years, it is getting harder and harder to see God as being so simple as to need to balance the ledgers of good and evil by allowing his son to be tortured and murder.
It makes Jesus kind of seem simple too. In fact, it’s a nice slight-of-hand to put the focus of Jesus’s story on his murder and resurrection Not that I’m against a good resurrection. Modern science demonstrated that we are all made up of an energy that never dies; it just changes form. I believe that my energy (and perhaps my soul) will pass on to another place. Though I hope to God I don’t get stuck with my same dull brain and t-rex sized arms.
The focus on Christ’s death and resurrection as a kind of act of cosmic balancing can distract us from the broader view of Jesus’s divine life. Jesus, a man, a Son of God, a Teacher of great compassion and intellect, who chose to spread a message of hope and transformation to the poor and disenfranchised of the world, and who was killed for his efforts; He reminds us that the secret to life, The Good News, is to love everything and everyone, every day and every moment, every success and every failure, love those that know not what they do and those that think they do (which is sometimes worse), and love the stranger, the thief, the wicked, the kind, the hopeless, the hopeful, our neighbors, ourselves, everyone and everything…for we are all these things.
Easter should make us uncomfortable and it should make us work harder and love more. Because left to our own devices, we may crucify the next Son of God before we take the time to understand Her.
And that’s why bunnies laying eggs makes so much sense this time of year; And why I appreciate Jesus a whole lot more when I think about him as a radical reformer than a pawn in a game of divine chess.
Give up and die, and Happy Easter.
Thanks to Beliefnet for publishing my tongue and cheek article about raising children with a multi-faith perspective. You can read the article here. Subscribe if you like the blog, and get posts delivered occasionally to your in-box.
For more about Easter, you can read my previous post on the subject.