“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I do try to keep religious holidays religious.  I am not fundamentally threatened by cultural traditions such as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, but we do try to keep them tied into the theological meaning of the holiday despite all attempts of the retail-fueled popular media to the contrary.  We have Christmas down.  I am happy to report that the Baby Jesus was mentioned almost as much as Saint Nick, and that’s about all I can expect from a four-year-old living in arguably the most commercial society in the known universe.

Easter is a bit more of a challenge.  Easter is, well, kind of bloody, really.

The aforementioned attack of fear experienced by my son in response to the aliens-come-bodysnatcher cartoon has seriously hampered my attempts to explain the pivotal symbolic event of our religion.  There is absolutely no possible way to explain Easter to a four-year-old without Christ coming off as a zombie.  None.  He let me get about five minutes into the explanation of the Crucifixion and the miracle at the Tomb, when he blurted out “Mommy, can we talk about something else?” in obvious discomfort.

Of course, I am not sure that the “Be Amazed” video montage in our Easter Sunday praise service helped our cause any.  While not explicitly graphic, the actor representing Jesus did an amazingly good job of portraying the Passion of Christ in every painful facial expression he could muster.  In a world of chocolate eggs, painful death and empty tombs are a hard sell.

We live in a sanitized world and to a great extent, we have sanitized our religion as well.  Christmas is big.  Of course – it’s got babies and presents.  Who can resist babies and presents?  But Easter is the single, defining moment in the Christian faith and while it does celebrate re-birth, the emphasis is on RE-birth.  Which brings us back to the suffering horrible death part.

I have mixed feelings about that reality.  On one hand, every fiber in my being fights to preserve my son’s innocence.   In that, I am a product of my time.  99% of the parents in all of human history did not have that luxury, and somehow we managed to survive long enough to overpopulate ourselves.   We glorify violence at the same time that we almost trip over ourselves to avoid confronting the cycle of life.  Growing up as the daughter of a farmer, I had no illusions about where my food came from, but I am not eager to introduce my son to the fact that his pork chop came from Babe the pig.  It’s hard enough to get him to eat as it is.  He’s about one step away from becoming a vegetarian, and because he doesn’t actually like vegetables, I am afraid that will be the death of him.  I don’t think that many macaroni-and-cheese-atarians make it to the age of reproduction.

I don’t think we glorify either violence or sexuality any more than our distant and not-so-distant predecessors.  In Victorian England, nude photos of children were coveted and displayed in places of pride because they were seen as capturing a window of innocence.  Today we would be appalled, and we strategically cover the important bits when we take the obligatory first-bath photos of infants.  Violence?  14th century Europe had it all over us when it comes to the glorification of violence.    And yet, we are not comfortable confronting the fact that Christianity fundamentally began with bloody martyrdom – at least not in the detail.   Take one look at the media treatment of commercial animal farming, and it becomes painfully obvious that we are not a society that handles the concept of sacrifice well.

I am not sure we serve ourselves well by it.  When we distance ourselves from the particulars of what really constitutes “sacrifice”, we inure ourselves to the bloody reality of it.  Death is neither pretty nor glorious.  It is painful and ugly, no matter how high the purpose it serves.   By separating ourselves from it, I wonder if we are also separating ourselves from the value of it.  We make it easier to take it for granted – to take life itself for granted.  Whether it is the cow on our plate, or the soldier in the field, have we made it easier to waste the gift that is given by the taking of life?  Whether it is the gift of security or nourishment, or redemption, are we more likely to squander it?

I don’t have an answer.

I think, however, I will wait a little longer before I explain the pork chop.

April 6th, 2010 at 3:26 pm
2 Responses to “Easter with Zombies”
  1. 1
    Judith/Beverly Says:

    Thanks once again for your thoughtful essays. While I was reading it, I was reminded of watching a Passion Play in the Black Hills on a family vacation when I was 5 yrs old. I was too young to understand that those were actors down there, and was appalled that no one was trying to stop them. Didn’t they know how it would turn out if no one stepped in?? My father was wondering what on earth I had been learning in Sunday School…

  2. 2
    Deirdre Says:

    I’ve got to learn not to read your stuff before my second cup of coffee. I’m not ready to think this much yet today.