Sunday, 12 April 2009

Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-That's all folks!

Can Christianity rise from the dead? Every year the interment of this once "universal faith" seems more settled, permanent and, in retrospect, inevitable. The resurrection myth, once a given across the entire culture, is becoming almost too embarrassing to even rehearse in the mainstream media. The notion that Jesus somehow walked away from the tomb and then flew away to heaven is quite literally becoming the stuff of cartoons. It makes the Easter bunny look like promising ethology by comparison.
All religions are problematic, making claims of unseeable, unprovable agencies operating in an all too material world. But the claims of Christianity add insult to injury against the reasoning mind, entailing the acceptance not just of a supreme being and his plan for what usually looks like a pretty god awful creation, but of an entirely new and improved "consubstantial" being who "came down" to earth to be crucified for our sins etc. Next to these abstractions and elaborations it is not hard to fathom the appeal of Islam to the ignorant and unreflective masses of the third world.
Granted the purported facts of Jesus's divinity have been long since nailed to the cross of science and logic, then what about the moral life which he espoused and which still animates and underpins the law and customs of the West, and by sheer force of history, the entire world? Kant taught that the moral intuition led to God ("The starry heavens above and the moral law within."), reversing the traditional or rather Judaic, theological compass. The reformation however, and in particular the bizarre doctrine of justification by faith which it spawned, has confused and confounded the traditional moral poles of Christianity, at least in the variety practiced in that "most religious of nations," the USA. The notion that by dint of some completely passive and arbitrary "born again" Jesus Hendrix Experience I'm going straight to heaven after death, no matter the works I've done, or rather failed to do, has to rank among the all-time most absurd and most iniquitous ideas ever broached by the fallen mind of man. Not only does it contradict every moral impulse in the natural breast of humanity, it implicitly spits in the face of Jesus himself. Hardly a page in the Gospels doesn't find the Son of Man declaring in effect, Do these things (i.e. charitable works) or I disown you. Even the so-called Lord's Prayer spells it out: forgive us trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Being "born again" helped George Bush get into the White House. If we can believe Jesus, however, it just as certainly reserved him a prime spot in hell.
In cultural and institutional terms, in art, law and basic societal expectations, Jesus remains Our Lord, whether we acknowledge Him or not. Obama's dismissal of the still preeminent Christian nature of his nation demonstrates what a sadly literal mind he really has. As the old faith fades, and as human beings seem more resigned to the belief that this life is all there is, thinking people should have two qualms: the rise of something sinister in its place and the void of moral anarchy if nothing supersedes it. The shadow of Islam now spreading across Europe, on the one hand, and the chaos of iconoclasm beginning to engulf America, on the other, suggest that, after all, Armageddon may be the only true and verifiable prophecy in the whole Bible. To which I say, God help us all!
Happy Easter.

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