Easter and Good Friday

Today is "Good Friday", the Friday that Christians believe their God-man Jesus was crucified first thing in the morning, died in the afternoon and was buried-- just in time for Passover to start tonight at dusk (Jewish holidays start the evening before).

Today is also a banking holiday, and often a day off of school for American school kids. In Germany we didn't have school Good Friday or Easter Monday-- they were both banking holidays, although usually our spring break was called "Easter" break, and started Friday. My children are scattered through my house reading PC Gamer, a Horus Heresy book, or randomly torturing each other-- it's what kids do, or well, my kids anyway.

They had spring break last week, school for four days this week, and now another long weekend. Their AIMs start next week-- those would be the standardised tests that prove the school has managed to teach them something this year. I'm not sure how I feel about those tests, but that's a post for another time.

Today I'm musing, remembering Good Fridays and Easters past.

Growing up, Easter was a super fun holiday. I'd get a pretty new dress, some times even a killer hat, new shiny patent leather Mary Janes, and we'd go to a Sunrise service at our church. [That's a church service right at, or right after dawn.] We'd listen to the Easter story, and the choir would sing a special musical programme for us (often called "the Easter Cantata"). Some times we'd even have a church breakfast together.

After church we'd hunt Easter eggs, and find our baskets-- baskets overflowing with jelly beans, little chocolate krispie eggs, Peeps and more! It was wonderful!

Of course, as we got older, we didn't get baskets any more, but candy was always a given around Easter. Peeps and jelly beans were the family favourites, followed closely by the chocolate eggs and of course Reese's eggs. But Reese's anything is straight from the Divine, if you ask me! I love love love chocolate and peanut butter. [As a side note, we found two cases of Reese's pumpkins marked down to a quarter each, after Hallowe'en, and bought both! We still have some of those things here at the house.]

I moved away, and the minister my mother sat under got more and more fundamentalist. I remember I was telling her "I bought an Easter basket for [my oldest] and I'm going to hide a bunch of plastic eggs with candy in them for him."

"Pastor Brian says that Easter is a *gasp* Pagan holiday named for the goddess Oestara, and you shouldn't celebrate it!" she ranted. "We're not having Easter any more, just Resurrection Sunday, praise God!"

Nope, not exaggerating, she actually added that praise god at the end, as though she was preaching to me about Easter. I told her, that yes, I knew Easter was from Oestara, but that wasn't the name of a Goddess, but a festival.

"How did you know that," she demanded, like it was some secret or something.

"I researched," I said simply. "I wanted to know more about the dogma, rituals and holidays the Christian churches celebrated through the ages." I thought that'd be a safe way of saying, "I wanted to know how much christianity had stolen from the indigenous peoples they conquered, murdered, tormented and genocided, or converted on pain of death.

"Well, then why do you still celebrate it?"

"Because, candy!" I said. Before we got into an argument, I changed the subject, but I don't know now what we talked about. Many many times after that she'd bring the conversation back to the evils of Easter, and why I was teaching my children Goddess worship, rather than Jesus worship.

For me, Easter was never about Jesus, it was always about the candy and music and flowers. I never saw Jesus as different on Easter than I did any other Sunday. He was still supposed to be a wise Rabbi, a teacher, leader and a man who taught love. So why would one Sunday be all that different? I know Christmas was supposed to be his birthday and all (although it really isn't), so that one was alright, in my childish head; but Easter, why celebrate the horrible things the Romans did to him! Why can't we talk about the love he had, instead.

Easter services are bloody, gory, filled with descriptions of torture, torment and pain. They dwell on the methods of execution popular then, and I've heard descriptions of the damage a cat-of-nine-tails can do to the human body that bordered on pornographic. Not all ministers do this, mind you. Some of the services I've heard concentrated on the "good news" of the supposed resurrection, and how Jesus was said to have greeted Mary first, how she shared the good news to others, setting the church up for equality. I've heard sermons that were thought exercises on love and sacrifice for others, whether it's giving of your time or money, or even a living donation of your kidney. But mostly in IFB churches they're torture porn sessions surrounding the crucifixion.

Why they didn't have special services on Friday I don't know. I mean, some churches do, Protestant, Anglican and Catholic alike.  It just isn't common in the "we have to be different from all those sorta-kinda-not-really-Christian churches" Baptists. Many of the Baptist churches I've been in, Independent and Southern both, seem to have this "no one's christian but us" mentality. So I think that's why they don't have Good Friday services-- can't be like those idolatrous Catholics, or wish-washy Protestants*.

I've said before that Satan, Paganism, and anything they can slap the "occult" label on is like porn for these IFB christians; Easter's much the same way. They study the minutia of the torture of Jesus in their Bible; compare it to historical documentation of the Roman method of execution, even papers written by christian morticians and pathologists that tells them exactly the degree of ripped the fuck up Jesus was before the got nailed up! It's pretty sick, I think, caring more about what this dude's body looked like, than the life he led.

For example, I was about 13 or so, maybe a little older, and the Pastor launched into a blood drop by blood drop of the crucifixion. He spoke of the damage a cat-of-nine-tails could do to the human body, the rocks, or glass or whatever they tied into the ends of the tails (I do not know if the Romans actually did that, it was really unnecessary, as beatings go, but they could very well have).

"He was stripped naked!" the man's voice raised over the small sanctuary. "They wanted to heap humiliation on Jesus, on top of the torment they would inflict on his body. And they beat him!" He pulled a crop, a horse crop out from the little shelf in the lectern. "Beat him, over and over," he said, swinging that crop through the air, and letting it whistle before it struck the wooden lectern. It was the weirdest "object lesson" he could have come up with, as a flogger/cat isn't anything like a crop, everyone knew that. (We also knew he beat his kids with that crop, those of us who went to school with his kids.)

"By the time the Romans were done flogging out Lord, he didn't look like a man. Skin was flayed from his back and shoulders. From his chest, where the tails wrapped his body, the crowd could see chunks of his muscles through the torn skin and flesh. He suffered so much! He looked more like hamburger, than like a person," the pastor continued his diatribe against the Romans, and then launched into the "come to Jesus" part of the service. But that hamburger comparison stayed with me, and I've heard it over and over since then. I probably heard it before, and it just didn't sink in.

What a bunch of sick fucks! Celebrating every year, the torture of a man who they claim to worship! Shit! They get all excited about it, too. They dress up in their nice, new clothing; go down to the church and start worshipping this man they claim is God. They discuss the psychological aspects of the torture he went through, the forced nudity, the humiliation, the removal of his beard (a huge no-no in Orthodox Judaism), and how the Romans mocked him. They get off on discussing the death of this man so much, they do it every single year-- with Gusto!

And it all starts today, on Good Friday. Catholic, Roman and Orthodox, have "stations of the cross" or processions. You can follow the paths of saints, praying where they prayed, and trying to be like them. In the Philippines people are crucified themselves, or engage in self-flagellation, to be more like Jesus. They bleed all over the place, engaging in self-torture**, because Easter!

All over the US, Christians are getting ready to go to church. They're getting that last minute thing for their Easter ham dinner; they're picking up the last little thing for their brunch, the candy, the eggs, the whatever. And on Sunday, they'll gather around a man or woman who will explain to them, one more time, how this Jesus, this God-man, was tortured for them! Hallelujah! Wasn't that swell of him! Otherwise, these sanctified persons, these holy, chosen of God, would go straight to hell, like all those heathens they feel so superior to.

Will they stop being cruel to one another?
Will they start showing sacrificial love for others?
Will they actually live the life Jesus told them to live, loving God and their neighbours?
Will they even take stock of their lives, and try to find out where they're falling short of their own religious expectations?

No, No, no and Nope. Not in the slightest. They'll go to church Sunday, get their torture fix and then go home and eat too much. Some will watch baseball, some will take naps. Others will have Easter egg hunts for their kids and grand kids. Some will have picnics in the park, or take flowers to the graves of their loved ones. I grew up doing all those things. But I was never told, "Hey, take today, the one day that's supposed to really be the reason we're Jesus-freaks, and think about how you're short. Think about what you can do to be more like Jesus."

The most Jesus-freaky people I know, wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire.
The most sane, rational, loving, sacrificing and giving people I know-- they're Atheists, Pagans, "mainline Christians". They're Jews and Muslims. They're "spiritual, but not religious". They're seekers, finders, lovers of peace. They're more like what I'd think a "Christian" would be.. you know, someone who emulates that Jesus dude.

* Most Baptists won't admit to being Protestant. They honestly truly believe that their denominations has come straight down from Jesus, and the Protestant denominations are half-Catholic, based on their separation from the RCC over the years, and during the Enlightenment. For most Baptists, Anglicans are merely "British and American Catholics" whereas the RCC is "the Rest of Catholicism".

Yes, they're wrong, but they hold these views so tightly that it's impossible to unravel it and have a conversation about it with them. Believe me, I've tried.

** Many American Christians are by turns repulsed and drawn to these displays of Jesus-ness. My grandmother told me she thought the Hindu sacrifices and body piercings for some of their festivals were sad, "Their gods cant hear them, but they cry out and hurt themselves, and hope that someone listens. If only they would find Jesus." But at the same time, she never called out christians for doing the same thing; rather she would nod sagely and say she thought they would find themselves closer and closer to Christ... by being tormented, pierced and nailed up. Christian hypocrisy at its best.


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