Saturday, April 11, 2009

[easter] a post for you to skip over

Sorry about the offensive image.

I'm reprinting an article by Christopher Bantick from March 27, 2005, I can’t remember from which paper – these were my pre-blogging days. You could call this lazy blogging but the article says all that I wish it to, so why not just present it as is?

Here it is:

My local supermarket has had Easter confectionary on display since January. Easter may be early this year, but the commercial potential for cashing in on creme eggs seems irresistible.

With Christmas over, no time was wasted in booting up the next festival. Out with the mince pies, in with the bunnies. But it is not just the early appearance of Easter chocolate items that gives cause for concern. What is troubling is the way Easter is being marketed. It is a singularly secular event and a targeted high point for chocolate sales.

My supermarket proudly advertises that it is the place "where the magic of Easter begins". But what is the magic? There is an observance of the mysterious and even the miraculous. You can have "dream rabbits" in various postures and "dream eggs" with the "real white chocolate wicked taste".

But how can we make sense of Easter among the menagerie of cutesie animals from chocolate bilbies, wombats and rabbits to milk chocolate footballs and all kinds of eggs? Are we happy with the smiling Freddo Frogs in Easter jumbo packs? Have we time for the Easter message? Do we care?

There appears to be confusion about what Easter means even in the messages of cards. With greetings like: "Hope the sun is shining on your little Easter world", and "For someone special . . . a Huggy Easter". Then there is the cloying, "You're really eggs-tra special. Happy Easter, Have Fun".

To be fair, there are the so-called "religious" cards that, it has to be said, don't look like much fun. They have a very serious Christ figure often lost in clouds or tending small animals. These token cards are in a minority and marginalised when on display. They simply don't sell.

Easter has been appropriated from the event that gives Christianity its sense and purpose to something approximating a chocolate festival.

Hot cross buns in my local supermarket sold out in days and had to be reordered weekly. Who noticed the cross on their tops? Moreover, Easter is now a celebration of the individual and friendship. If greeting cards are a true reflection of what people hope to say, then statements like, "Because we think about you in a very special way" and "Because you're special in every way", say a lot. There is no one more important than you.

On this Easter Day, there will be community mammoth Easter egg hunts. They are good fun and harmless in themselves. But what has been lost in how many eggs you can find is the message of Easter. On this, the churches could do far more.

French philosopher Albert Camus, not a man noted for his piety, understood the essential significance of Easter. He also observed the importance of Christians holding the line against intrusions when he said, "The world needs Christians who remain Christians".

Still, the rampant commercialisation of Easter should concern us all. There is something slightly out of kilter about seeing children pig out on Easter chocolate a month away from Easter Day. It was T.S. Eliot who pointed to the vacuousness of a life without a spiritual dimension being one where we may "have the experience and miss the meaning".

The reality is that children today are more than likely ignorant of the Easter story. Whether they believe it or not comes down to choice, but to not know what Easter stands for goes to the heart of the future viability of the churches.Without Easter, there would be no churches.

What the churches have largely failed to do is tell the Easter story, not just during Lent or on Easter Day, but consistently throughout the year. Instead, they have been distracted by issues such as the gay debate, or whether or not Dan Brown's best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, is threatening the stability of the church as an institution. But community ignorance about the event that defines the Christian faith is far more serious and damaging.

Last year, [now some year's ago- Higham] Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ gave Easter a focus in the secular world. Gibson did what the churches had broadly failed to do by generating interest in the Easter story. The ensuing debate was about the violence of the Crucifixion. It was easy to see why.

The brutality and savagery of the Crucifixion does not fit comfortably with marketers who know that Easter is about bright coloured eggs and happiness found in chocolate.

So what is the point of Easter and what do the churches celebrate on Easter Day? Today, churches will be emphasising the empty tomb where Jesus was laid after the crucifixion. It was empty for the miraculous reason of the resurrection. But it is a message that is lost in the ringing of cash registers.

The raisin and cinnamon hot cross buns in my nearby supermarket became a neat symbol of how Easter is regarded. They sold out in days and had to be reordered weekly. Who noticed the cross on their tops?

Leaving aside, for a moment, the rabid anti-Christian push with their bus ads about there being no G-d and writing to you instead, a rational person, there's not too much dispute with the historical record that Jesus of Nazareth did exist and he did sufficient things to come to the attention of some historians at the time.

The Muslims even concede that He is a prophet of the highest order.

The issue is now, as it ever was, not whether He was crucified but whether He came back to life. That's the point on which it all turns and where the fundamental dispute is. I'm certain He did come back to life because of personal things which have occurred. I wrote once before that you're never going to definitively know unless you've first bought the ticket, so there's no point having this discussion until you've done that.

This is the part which gets up many non-Christian's noses – this claim to arcane knowledge and I would wager that a huge number of those happy-clappers and militant anti-abortionists in the States have not actually bought the ticket [John 3:16]. Certainly the churchleadership is riddled with representatives of the other side, hence the sex scandals et al. Hence Christian militancy and the reason people don't like them.

Again I say, you can't know until you buy the ticket. I didn't make up the rules but maybe it's time some people started following them.

By the way, in following the Orthodox calendar this year, one week after the Roman, today is Palm Sunday.

Have a happy day today, everyone.


Devonshire Dumpling said...

Another excellent (no, not egg-selent)thought provoking post. Happy easter, James.


I love Albert Camus.
I am saddened that my mother would not allow us to go to church.

Anything taken to the eggstreme is unhealthy,even religion, but I think everyone could do with a little bit of religion.

Easter is one holiday we don't celebrate for it seems as the article said,a pointless'.... chocolate holiday.' BUt for religious people it should mean so much more.

Peter Cottontail has replaced Christ on this day. Sad!


BTW I LOVE the photo accompanying this post.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I've come to believe that Christianity began to lose control of Easter way back in 312 C.E. when Emperor Constantine "made" the Roman Empire "Christian."

North Northwester said...

I shan't skip over it, James, thanks.
Happy Easter and Passover and also Ostara, one and all.

Little dig there about Ostara being a Germanic heathen springtime/new life festival before Christianity took it over...

But I'm jolly glad to have been brought up in a culture and a country that have been made gentle and decent - eventually - by the Christian faith.

I can't say this often enough, but if you grow up in a place where for hundreds of years you hear a god's words saying; blessed are the meek, the poor, the peacemakers, then you are much more likely to get a political set-up wherein the meek, the poor, and the peaceful are valued and looked after.

And so here we are; bloody but not yet wholly reverted to savages; clumsy and inefficient experiments like the NHS and welfare benefits trying to heal the sick and protect the poor as we were bid to do.
Merciful and hungering after justice too - oh yes - maybe a little too much emphasis on the mercy in foreign policy, but that's just my way...

I have no doubt that the supernatural Jesus (the Risen Christ) has inspired a religion inviting and powerful enough to survive for two thousand years has led to great good and great wisdom, as well as being used as a pretext for cruelty and conquest.

But for me the thing that makes the faith such a benefit to mankind is those people and those virtues that the living and uncrucified Jesus of Nazareth told us were blessed.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

There, right there.

That's the world I want to live in.

Happy Easter, everyone.


That's lovely North Northwester
Happy Easter to you, too.

dearieme said...

"With Christmas over, no time was wasted in booting up the next festival." Silly fellow, there's Hogmanay and Burns' Supper before you reach Easter. I can only suppose that he comes from some narrow, dour, Puritanical joy-hating culture.

JPT said...

A beautiful image actually.
Can I get arrested for saying that?

CherryPie said...

Like everyone else, I love the image too!

The only time of year I eat hot cross buns is on the Friday before Easter Sunday because they have the cross on them.

NNW - that sums it up beautifully :-)

Pisces Iscariot said...

Bah humbug!

Anonymous said...




Liz said...

Hope you have had a lovely day too, James.

North Northwester said...

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous.

Do you have a better explanation as to why the Judeo-Christian countries and their recent colonies and conquests have much superior human rights records to all the others; especially when compared to the secular-humanist slaughterhouses of Red China, Stalin's USSR, Pol Pot's surviving 2/3 of the Cambodian people, plus the head-bagged feminist paradises and gay hang-outs of the Islamic Middle East?

Any non-rolling about on the floor with laughter explanations?

Are Europeans and North Americans somehow inherently superior to Arabs, Africans, Chinese, Indians and the rest?

Or was all human goodness commenced with the 1945 Labour electoral victory or a bit earlier with the US New Deal, perhaps?
Along with the abolition of the slave trade, slavery itself, universal adult suffrage [eventually] with secret ballots and multi-party elections, widespread property rights, advanced medical science, widespread education for boys and girls?

Oh wait; all that was much, much earlier, wasn't it?

I mean, if it's not the moral teachings of centuries that influenced and brought this all about, then what is it, I wonder?

The inescapable workings of human history, perhaps? You know; via the inevitable relations between the means of production, ownership, and exchange?

The blind watchmaker of evolution? Did eh absence of aristocratic absolutism come about by the same processes as fish grew lungs and ants got together to live as nests?

Did the stars, the ley-lines and the land-wights work in harmony with Gaia to build all those grammar schools and hospitals and printing-presses and alms-houses, perhaps?

Or is it the impersonal forces of the market - the Invisible Hand and all that?

Come on, Anonymous, there's got to be some kind of explanation, hasn't there?

North Northwester said...


Or did we just win the lottery?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I didn't skip over the post either. We don't have hot X buns here but we do hsve Easter eggs, which are only displayed a couple of weeks before. True, we have feasting but most families go to church before that and all the church bells are silenced on Good Friday and do not ring again until 7 am on Easter Sunday. So children here do grow up knowing the significance of Easter.

Anonymous said...

The lottery was won when researchers went prior to "christian teaching", which held the world in darkness under the Vatican torch and rack for more than a thousand years.
Those researchers risked death by frying countless times, and many times, were fried.

You heard of the Albigensian Crusade?

If you want to be foolish, and say one race is superior to another, go ahead, if that floats your boat, be foolish.

In 3000bc and earlier, it was recognised that the Earth revolved around the sun.
And the christian teachings?

The Iliad of Homer contains references to the moons of Mars, Demios and Phobos.
Considering they are 13 miles across at their largest, and the Iliad is a collection of folk tales dating from 3000bc approx, you have to wonder.
Clearly an optics industry!

An American astronomer "discovered" the Martian moons late in the 1800s, and named them appropriately after the Greek names!

And the Christian teaching?
Well, they were still burning folks to death in the 1500 and 1600s for claiming the Earth revolves around the Sun!
That's the "Christian Religion" for you.
They eventually "forgave" the last person to make that claim, who they also burnt at the stake, in the 1990s. No apology though, just forgiveness. Pompous self righteous pricks.

The house of Solomon, and down through the lineage, and the knowledge held by that lineage, were NEVER part of Christian teaching. The "Christian" teaching of the Vatican and its attendant crap would not have survived.
The teachings of the man Jesus were re-written for political reasons so many times, and so many years after the event, and the translations by St Jerome, which are the basis for the Vulgate version, were so inaccurate, and politicised in turn, that they reflect almost nothing of the real words of Jesus, far less his real meaning. Deliberate miss-translations have been made in the English version of the bible that you now read. Once again for politics.

Why don't you stop wasting time being verbose, and grow up, and do some research? - of your own!

Yes, there has to be an explanation.

Why don't you try and find out what really pushed us forward instead of relying on others.

And I'm still ROFLMAO

James Higham said...

Devonshire Dumpling, Uber, Sometimes Saintly Nick, North Northwester, Dearieme, JPT, Cherie, Pisces, Liz, Anon, Welshcakes - thanks so much.

Had to chuckle at the Burn's Supper.

Anon - you have it wrong, old chap. :)

Anonymous said...

You obviously can't read.

James Higham said...