Just thought I'd remind us of those obvious, though perhaps not always remembered facts before I get on my soapbox. (What? Defensive? Me??? No wayyyyyyy).
For some reason, I'm reminded of an anecdote from the life of Winston Churchill. Apparently, he'd had one too many at some social gathering or so one of the ladies present thought.
"Sir", she said in her haughty-taughty, disaproving school-maam-ish voice, "you're drunk".
To which Churchill, not one to deny anyone a helping of his vitriolic wit, retorted "Madam. you're ugly. And tomorrow, I'll be sober".
So, what's any of this got to do with ironies that emerged this Easter (which, in case you haven't noticed, I haven't even begun to talk about) or the oft forgotten facts I prefaced this post with?
Stuffed if I know. But, you know, somehow, I can't help feeling there's a common thread running through all of them. Just wish I knew what it was. Perhaps if I start talking about the ironies, it will reveal itself?
First off, I received one of those slide shows about Easter in my email. Specifically, it was about the things that Jesus was supposed to have said on the cross and what their deeper, hidden meanings were.
This mini expose was presented against a background of some beautiful crucifixion images. ('Beautiful crucifixion'??? Don't ever again say you haven't been given evidence for the proximity of the madness and genius centers in the brain).
Anyways, I read about how God had given us his son who had sacrificed his life for us because Jesus and (or is that 'as') God loved us so much. I read how Jesus-God was so forgiving and even how Jesus-man felt forsaken by God, yet ultimately yielded to him.
All this was familiar to me as one born and raised in the Catholic tradition. So familiar that I could summarily toss it over the thinking edge of my mind and thus retain my position in the land of sane.
But, in amongst all this, one thing stood out for me like a bleeding thumb. It was a part of the message that effectively said, "If Jesus loved us so much as to give his life for us, surely we can show our love for him by loving one another too".
It reminded me again where all my years of not just accepting punishment, self and other imposed, but also inviting it, had its noxious roots. And that would have been that, except, to my surprise, I felt a strong and unfamiliar urge to say to the sender of the email and all his other recipients as well as the author of the presentation, "Grow up!"
Grow up, for chrissake! (If I know Christ, he'd be writhing in utter despair too). Do we need the sordid suffering and death of someone to convince us that we must love one another? Which inhuman part of our mind does that kind of thinking appeal to?
(As for loving someone back because they loved us first, puhlease! Which puerile part of our mind is that supposed to appeal to?)
Now, I'm sure some clever person is going to tell me, "Well, it is because we realize how inhuman it is that we are motivated to be kinder to one another".
Really? Aren't people naturally kind? Don't people naturally feel good when they reach out to others? Aren't people naturally happy when they give up habits of fear and competition? Do we need rebel-rousing sacrificial deaths and self-mortification to tune in to what naturally feels right and good, and to act with kindness and compassion toward one another?
Well, you know what? Perhaps some of us do. Or at least, perhaps some of us believe we do. As for me, I can tell you that I tried it for a lot of my life and it didn't work. And I think I know why too. I was relying on two powerful and pervasive myths:
1. That somebody else's sacrifice (whether divinely inspired, humanly misplaced or falsely recorded) can be the wellspring of my goodness and kindness towards others
2. That I am, by nature, not inclined towards goodness, kindness and compassion. This, despite being 'created in the image of god'.
They are the myths that I was brought up on. But this child has grown up and seen the myths for what they are - spell-binders to control and manipulate the many for the benefit of a few. And that's where I'll leave this particular irony.
Here's another - the new-found religious fervor of one of our major supermarket's, W. It didn't escape my attention, this whole refrigerated food section that W stores provided "Just for Lent". Aww...how awwwwww-ingly touching.
"Just for Lent".
Doesn't it make your heart melt? Doesn't it make it ooze with gratitude for how well God is rewarding you for your sacrifice i.e. abstaining from meat (while you overload on everything else)?
That's it. I'm done. For now.
PS Anyone figured out what that thread is? Please let me know if you have.