Yesterday was the day when kids celebrated a bunny bringing a basket full of eggs, while grown-ups celebrated a man who walked on water, rose from the dead and flew off into the clouds. Today, we are back to workday realities. And that might as well include the reality of what Easter is really all about.
You’ve no doubt heard plenty of religious people tell you about the “true” meaning of Easter already, just as they’ve told you about the “true” meaning of Christmas. But the TRUE true meaning of Easter, like the TRUE true meaning of Christmas, is considerably older than Christianity; it goes back to pagan traditions commemorating the cycle of the seasons. The entire Christian narrative is a beautiful allegory on this theme.
Of course, it’s theoretically possible (though rather unlikely) that the biblical account of Jesus was inspired in part by an actual person. But even so, assuming that his values were anything like those he supposedly taught, he was quite different from the image most of his supposed followers have of him, and vastly different from the supposed followers themselves. And even if there really was some sort of historical Jesus, his teachings and the alleged events of his life are almost all borrowed from older traditions.
Your Professor Of Propaganda urges you to seek out the TRUE true truth about Easter, not just because it’s truly and truthfully true (which, truth be told, is reason enough) but also because ultimately it’s more interesting, more illuminating and more spiritually fulfilling than the Christian nonsense you’re always fed instead.
Remember Bill Hicks:
Goldfish, Lincoln Logs and socks;
Story of Easter
Although as someone who believes in the message of the Christ story, I feel somewhat defensive about phrases that question the existence of an actual person who was Christ, I don’t believe the totality of every word in the Bible, or the insane babel in Revelations either.
What I do care about is the beauty and inspiration in the words (or the words attributed to) Christ. But since Faith itself is often defined as believing in something which has not been proven—yet which offers a good reason to be believed— of course this is all subjective, and, other religious Icons, as well as theological authorities and philosophers who expounded about what constitutes ethical behavior, may have gone before and after—I am still awed by the beauty of the teachings in the four gospels and impressed by the very nearly identical reporting of those words in each of them. To me it still feels rather special and revolutionary (spiritually) to hear things said like, “Forgive your enemies and treat others as you would be treated yourself” as well as, (not a direct or necessarily identical quote either) store not for yourself treasures on earth, where thieves may break in, and moths and dust corrupt. Instead make for yourself treasures that are in your heart, for where your heart is there is your treasure also.”
Also, if the specific accounts of the crucifixion were concocted by some worldly revolutionary figure or group of them how would they come up with language like, “forgive them father, they know not what they do.” and how would that inspire someone with the will and righteous anger present in most revolutionaries to forcefully depose tyrannical leaders and governments?” To me the language of the four gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, are far more beautiful than almost anything else I have read, and they often put the beauty of shakespeare or the romantic sonnets of famous poets to shame. Again this is only subjective, but do any of us live our lives with at least some treasured feelings which, although unprovable, never-the-less have great personal meaning to us?
We should also mention that yes, the idea of someone floating off into heaven after being raised from the dead, is a rational stretch, but if I had lived a few thousand years ago, I never would have believed that some day, men would pilot flights to the moon, moving pictures with accompanying sound would be transmitted across thousands of mile of space, cell phones could be carried anywhere and connect us with anyone else, almost instantaneously, even on the other side of the world?—or that huge jet liners would travel thousands of miles in a few hours to deliver us to destinations very far away.
Yes these are miraculous creations that have come about because of science, but today science itself is frequently advancing theories that are completely far-out and scientists (particularly Astrophysicists)are applying mathematical language to describe them. For example, do we know that potentially infinite universities co-existing with ours, or what black holes and dark energy are, and if they can ever be completely understood? And how about the paradox of being and nothingness, which would suggest that something cannot happen without a previous cause or force behind it?
Although currently some scientists are discussing primal cosmic states that come into existence spontaneously, even the very language that is used to convey their theories, includes words that implicitly denote time and causation i.e. “come into” and “spontaneously from.”
The point I am trying to make is that, science itself investigates many things that are initially hard to believe but may have a basis in physical reality, and so, who are we to speak derisively or definitively about the existence, or not, of someone who spoke the beautiful things in the four gospels. and, aren’t there Yogis who have also done many incredible things that scientists do not yet fully understand…etc…etc?
It is not just the idea that the gospels may have been some sort of clever ruse that is so offensive, rather it is the implication that the many good people, like those who were freedom riders in the Jim crow south in the 60s, and the people who currently and heroically deliver food and medicine to millions of starving refugees, who are the unfortunate victims of wars marked with incredibly violence, are somehow silly and inferior when choosing to believe a particular religious doctrine!
I understand that atheists also are capable of great virtue and courage and that such qualities are not dependent on faith, but faith does arouse and develop these qualities in many who could not go on without them.
I understand that the “meaning of Easter and Christmas,” have had their origins in much older historical periods and their particular subjective traditions, but, it is still important to be familiar with and respect the traditions that modern Christianity arose from, as well as the significance of the practices which make up their roots.
Since I was raised and confirmed in the lutheran church (although I haven’t attended a church service, beyond weddings and funerals, for many years) I will always be aware of the Christian significance associated with these holidays and will respect them. But belief in things beyond logic are fundamental to the human psyche, and I respect those who sincerely base their lives on such beliefs.
Of course, religion like politics is full of deception and outrageous thinking, but I would not put down entire classes of people, because they may have human frailties when practicing their faiths. And, I also think that like myself, most children who are exposed to Christian beliefs, are also aware of the fun aspects of Easter and Christmas. I also think the symbolic act of giving presents to others (although easily associated with materialistic thinking) is a fine tradition. And, If I were a parent, I would gladly teach my children to color eggs and trim a Christmas tree, even if these things have no direct origins in Christianity. As much as anything these holidays are about the joy of the season and the fun had by children—young and old.
After the above comment, I failed to remember checking the requests to be notified about any follow-up comments or any new posts via email. So, if I receive either of those as a result of that previous post, I will now learn of them through this one.
I concur that the basic teachings of Jesus (or whoever said them) are sound, at least as I understand them. As for the actual existence of Jesus, and other supposedly historical facts in the Bible, there is every reason to doubt. I’ll be discussing this more in the future.
I also think that the morality expressed in the Gospels is basically sound, even if most of us would find it very hard to live up to practicing all of them.I don’t like to think of Jesus as merely a personality to be worshipped, but rather, as a very evolved human being who had many important and wise messages to convey.
As with any religion, I think we are on the wrong track when believing that various icons have supernatural powers that ordinary men cannot use. I have read that Buddha told his followers not ot worship him, because he was just another man—a pretty straight forward way to characterise himself. But none the less, his followers quickly built thousands of temples in his honor after he died.
In general, l think all of the founders of major religions (posthumously or not) desired to teach a very different message than the doctrines that are now causing great disharmony and polarization in the world. I also agree that the teachings themselves, are the most important aspect of faith and morality, not what comes after—when we corruptible human beings use holy texts to rationalize just about anything we desire. And, yes, the accounts of Christ’s life in the four gospels may have undergone some editing from devotees hundreds of years in the future, and may also not contain all that Christ taught. But the similarity of all four gospels in regards to the teachings of Christ are close enough for me, and, wherever those teachings came from some other person, does not detract from their beauty and timeless wisdom.
The reason I make comments on topics such as these, is because I think too many scientists and secular philosophers do not give those who practice their faiths honestly and as a positive guide for their lives. And, this does not mean that the knowledge discovered by scientists is meaningless or somehow anti-religious.
Many intelligent people believe in a higher being and many do not. However unlike today’s Evangelicals I see no need to browbeat religious doctrine into others, or to blindly take a historical and moral collection of early Hebrew history as an infallible message from God.
As far as the significance of Easter and Christmas go, I don’t object to frequent messages from religious people who want to remind us of the spiritual importance of such holidays but, at the same time, I do not feel the need to protect children from activities like hunting for Easter eggs, or trimming a Christmas tree. When it comes to those who seem to want a wet blanket thrown over the practice of these traditions. I can’t help but feel that since many of them must have enjoyed such traditions as children, that they should consult their own memories about just how much fun these Christian traditions can be for young children, and not destroy that fun, with unnecessary theological condemnations.
Again, I have heard many atheists like Richard Dawkins speak negatively about Christian beliefs and even mock those who hold them. And, I believe another unfortunate stereotype is being used, when criticizing such believers in a denigrating way.
A man like Dawson, who is no doubt correct about our obvious evolutionary history in a world older then 3 billion years, is missing the fact that many believers feel no need to deny man’s’ evolution, or the many branches of science which examine hundreds of millions of years of our history in order to have, and live, with faith. Although many religious zealots do cling to unprovable or even, incredibly silly beliefs—People like Dawkins only do themselves and their intellects a disservice, when relying on sophomoric criticisms, and,then lumping all people of faith into one pigeonholed definition! Thanks for the respectful reply! I still enjoy all of your posts!
this paragraph from my previous post, should be written differently. The way it reads above, is:
“The reason I make comments on topics such as these, is because I think too many scientists and secular philosophers do not give those who practice their faiths honestly and as a positive guide for their lives. And, this does not mean that the knowledge discovered by scientists is meaningless or somehow anti-religious.”
It should have been expressed in this way:
“The reason I make comments on topics such as these, is because I think too many scientists and secular philosophers do not give those who practice their faiths honestly and as a positive guide for their lives, nearly enough credit. And, this does not mean that the knowledge discovered by scientists is meaningless or somehow anti-religious.”