Archive for April, 2011

I Am the Resurrection and the Life, Saith the Lord

Posted in Religion with tags , , on April 24, 2011 by bradellison

We all know the story.  We were telling around the fires in the mouths of our caves, back when we were first learning how to talk.  We’ve been telling it ever since then, through all the generations of man.

Osiris risen. Balder, returning from Niflheimr.  Persephone come back up from Hades’ grim realm with the Spring.  The Green Man, ever reborn.  Arthur, Rexque Futurus.  Gandalf the Grey come back as Gandalf the White.  The great lion, Aslan.  Even the scruffy ronin called Sanjuro, crawling back from the edge of death to impart some justice.

This is the day we celebrate this story, which was told by God Himself near twenty centuries gone, and our hope was made manifest, and the meaning underlined.

Death holds no fear for us.  The gates of Hell itself are broken, and hang wide.  Almighty God is a living man, and He’s living still, even after being lynched.  There’s a little cave cut into the rocky cliffs near Jerusalem that stands empty to this day, because the rabble-rouser the Establishment tried to murder busted out of it.

Yesterday, God was dead, and we had killed him.  Today, for once, things are different.  The heirophants and the politicians and the tycoons and the gangsters and the strong-arm thugs they hire can’t stamp down forever, because God Almighty showed us He stands with the ones who are under the boot, and what’s constantly reborn can’t ever be killed.

We keep trying, though.  We keep trying because we, as a species, continue to be bloody-handed, bloody-minded bastards.  Which means that the Crucifixion’s an ongoing affair, and always has been.

The kiss Judas gave Christ is felt on the cheek of everyone who’s been betrayed by a friend.  The Roman scourge that tore his back off is the same lash that good Christian Americans used on their slaves.  The insults and spittle the executioners showered Jesus with also spilled down on the peaceful protesters in Birmingham, and Bull Connor was the presiding officer on Skull Hull that day.  The nails punched through His wrists and feet like the bullets that hit those students at Kent State, and the spear that pierced His side was reforged into a knife that later slipped into the guts and through the heart of an Irish-American union man.

When the first Martyrs died in the Roman coliseums, He died with them.

When the knights of the first Crusade made the holy streets of Jerusalem run red with the blood of innocent men, women and children, Jesus lay in the street with the other murdered Jews.

Jesus suffered in the torture chambers of the Inquisition, and he was burned at the stake by the Witchfinder-General.  A noose in Salem snapped His neck, within spitting distance of the church where His executioners prayed to Him.

When tight-fisted Puritan businessmen went to Africa and loaded ships with human cargo, Jesus rode in the reeking hold.  Years later, He hung on every lynching tree in America, and He’s been nailed to every burning cross.

He marched West with the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, and kept going all the way to Wounded Knee, where the US Army crucified him with the other Ghost Dancers.

In the wake of the Dust Bowl, he road with the migrating Okies, right alongside Tom Joad.  His home was wiped out when the levees broke in New Orleans.  He’s standing in line at a soup kitchen or a methadone clinic right now.

He went to the ovens, oh, yes, and when the SS stacked the skeletal bodies like cordwood, His was one of them. He walked every step of the Bataan Death March, and he was torn apart by atomic fire at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  We could have found Him, had we been looking, in the bloody ashes of My Lai, an American bayonet buried in his throat.

The strike-busting Pinkertons broke his skull at Homestead, and the cops did the same at Watts and Stonewall.  He was there when Matthew Shephard was crucified on a lonely fence. There are mass graves in Rwanda, Darfur and Iraq where Jesus is buried, even though we like to talk today about how empty his tomb is.  Every funeral Fred Phelps and his cult picket is the funeral that Nicodemus and Mary Magdalene held.  Jesus Christ works in the factory where an underfed, underpaid Chinese girl put your Ipod together, and in the Indonesian sweatshop the shirt I’m wearing now came from.

Every day we pound the nails into Him and hang him on that lynching pole.  Every.  Single.  God.  Damned.  Day.  It’s always, always Good Friday.

But today, we remember what we should always keep in mind.  Every day we kill Christ is a day He comes back.  Every day is Easter Sunday, and we can’t bloody our hands faster than He can wash them.

He lived to show us that the world should be a better place than it is, and we killed Him for it.  And then He came back again, to show us that it surely would be a better place.

That’s Easter.  We rise up, borne on the back of the risen God, and all our weakness, our brokenness, our darkness, all our sin, it doesn’t count for anything in the face of that boundless and eternal love.  And being Christian, that just means living like we know the truth of that.