On Resurrection

The history of art is the history of revivals- Samuel Butler

You can have either the Resurrection or you can have Liberace. But you can’t have both.-Liberace

It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up- Vince Lombardi

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not a religious person. To be even more direct I consider myself an atheist. Or maybe at the very least, an agnostic. My apparent indecision, to those of a more religious nature might appear, in and of itself, a sign of confusion regarding my place in the universe. To some it may afford an opportunity to  proselytize to the nth degree. I say may, I am not being completely honest, it has on too many occasions been my misfortune to endure these well-meaning but unwanted attempts to smother me in salvation. I have become fairly deft over the decades at deflecting such sermonizing in a polite and respectful manner. As a matter of fact, I have at times even engaged it to a degree when it morphs into a respectful discussion  of a philosophical or intellectual nature.  But I try to always draw a line against soap box oration filled with promises of angels and rewards or cautions of devils and fire. I don’t respond well to people who  insist that all of my good works don’t amount to a hill of beans simply because I don’t accept any particular brand of theology being marketed. I am much aware that along with all my good works, there have been more than a ton of bad decisions. By my own account some actions have been less than praiseworthy, some even shameful.  Trust me, in my own way I have taken notice and repented on a very regular basis.

One of my biggest influences in the arts of compassion and grace under fire left this world nearly three decades ago. In fact, I wrote about him in a previous posting entitled What Would Bert Do? My friend Bert was a man of god, so much so that at the time of his passing he was studying for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. Indeed, it was the observation of his behavior through numerous challenges which resurrected in me an appreciation of the words and life of the historical figure who has been known by many names but who is most often referred to in our culture as Jesus Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that such an exceptional person existed. There is no doubt as well that he was crucified, died and was buried. It is the next part where myself and some of my more Christian friends part ways. While I fully appreciate the idea of resurrection I do not take it as literally as they do. But where we can agree, and which really is the point of this very long introduction to this posting, is that the concept of revival and resurrection matters.

Whatever it is that prompts us to navigate the difficulties and challenges not only of this modern world but of our own very humanity, it would not be possible if we were not endowed with a sense of and a longing for,  resurrection.

As many of you who graciously follow these postings or allow me to enter your inboxes with notices of new musings know, just about every posting is introduced by some pertinent or hopefully amusing quotes. It was difficult this time because secular perspective was relatively absent from anything I read. Most of the quotes I examined regarding revival were directly tied to the acceptance of this or that deity and in communion with a “holy” spirit. Resurrection as a concept in this context meant resurrection of the  dead on a “ judgement day” complete with all manners of  wrath from a very angry yet forgiving god.  On the face of this somewhat bipolar messaging, the very option of revival in times of human crisis appears unavailable to so many. It flies in the very face of the message it  is supposed to be conveying regarding the human animal’s ability to recover, endure and salvage the very best of his nature. This lack of the amazingness of grace for those not similarly and celestially insured by dogmatic belief seems to me  not only unchristian in nature but somewhat nihilistic as well.

While doubting his deistic nature I have  always been a believer in the message of the man from Galilee.  I am after all a product of Catholic education from soup to nuts. And trust me at times there were more nuts than soups. However, there is a reason that the teachings of this man who preached that he who is without sin should cast the first stone have thrived through the centuries. This message of peace and love is treasured by our collective humanity. And I believe most of us can acknowledge that it is difficult to have one without the other. I suppose that isn’t entirely true, I mean there have been the old cold war assumptions in the nuclear age of mutually assured destruction which has accounted for some degree of peace absent the idea of love. But that is a fear-based philosophy and while fear has often been a motivating factor in human history, it has never, at least to my mind resulted in much of the positivity needed to encourage growth.

I have always been more of a Christmas guy than an Easter guy. The rodent with the eggs?  Well, I do like eggs. But I have an out-sized allegiance to the  bearded fellow with the sacks of comfort and joy. Hey, who doesn’t love gifts? The giving and the getting.  And the idea of hope represented in a newborn child is hard to smirk at. But as much as hope is revealed through the birth of a child, birth in any of our lives is one moment in the time of our personal histories. No matter what, the possibility of resurrection is offered to us on a daily basis if we are willing to recognize and embrace it. While I do not believe anyone can turn water into wine, I do believe that as much as they commit crimes, humans commit miracles every day, just by showing up and continuing to endure despite the odds.

My beliefs are my beliefs, they are not knowledge. I am fully prepared to admit that I may be proven wrong someday. Who knows, there may actually be an old man with a long beard sitting on a throne of sorts with a big book, near an elevator with only two buttons, at the ready to send me up or down. But I like to believe that if that is the case, the same power endowing us  with the ability to choose and to change would understand that our imperfections, in a sense, belong to them as well. Therefore, they may not judge us too harshly.

Either way, in times like these especially; we should promote the idea of resurrection and practice it on a daily basis, for our very survival depends on it. The story of the man from Galilee should resonate with everyone today, because we all must rise and face the challenges awaiting us when the available world becomes available again. We need a resurrection of spirit for the strength to honor the protocols for as long as we must, for we must. To all of my friends and loved ones and readers, continue to practice your faith whatever it is or isn’t, but always your faith in each other. Continue to resurrect every day. Happy Easter or Passover and good night Mrs. Calabash wherever you are.

2 thoughts on “On Resurrection

  1. Very thoughtful and thought provoking. I have been told by true believers that those who “proselytize to the nth degree” are only doing what is required of them. It is a mandate to convert and spread the word. Not doing so is a failure for those who profess faith,and that faith requires the suspension of logical reasoning. My nephew, a pastor in North Carolina, describes the resurrection and the transformation of water to wine as symbols, not literal occurrences. But he is no zealot and his youthful history is one of indulgence, and the discovery of religion helped him escape harmful extremes. Believers span the whole gamut of intensity and faith.
    We may doubt the deistic nature of Christ, as you mention, but his teachings represent an honest, generous, and hopeful approach to living.
    “Goodnight Mrs Calabash wherever you are…” your younger readers had to search for the meaning of that salutation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Phil. I take the point and I do know that most true believers are more like your nephew, as was my friend Bert. My concern here is the literalists who bring unleavened insanity to the Passover Seders and the Easter dinners. As in the Televangelists selling salvation by the bottle like Jim Bakker of PTL fame promoting Silver Solution for the Covid-19 and the Virginia pastor who recently had a congregated service because as he said “God is greater than this dreaded virus” and then proceeded to die himself from it. Not unlike the constitutional literalists on our Supreme Court, most vividly represented by the now deceased Antonin Scalia. I also have a relative who is relentless and no matter how much I try to change the subject or express my disinterest, they will not dignify my request. And that is just rude with a sidebar of annoying. But yes the teachings are valuable. The best of it has always resonated with me. I am not one for throwing out the baby with the bathwater, unless of course the baby is exceptionally dirty. Anyway, the idea of revival and/or resurrection of our spirits in these times is more valuable than ever. How are you and Michelle doing? Please stay healthy. I look forward to more wonderful discussions and meals. Much love to you both, T

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