Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," out early this morning and hearing on the radio about Jesus cheating death. I hate to break it to our modern world, but this is not a concept unique to Christianity. Ask around amongst the bored gods, and you'll find any number from any number of pantheons who have done the same thing (or know Someone who did).
I went to get bagels early -- because nothing is more sacred than commerce these days -- and on the way I was listening to news radio.
Of course it's a slow news day, so the reporters were making the rounds of sunrise services and interviewing pastors.
One local Christian pastor says Easter is the most important date on the Christian calendar because "Jesus rising from the dead is the central most important tenet of our faith. Because he died and rose, we can have eternal life."
Getting past all that "eternal life" stuff, which I pondered through many and many a dull sermon back in the day, I have to feel disappointed in what this pastor had to say.
First of all, he basically told Christians what a majority of them already know: It's just fine if you only go to church once a year, on Easter. The rest of it is window dressing.
But second, I think that pastor was selling Christianity way short. Even when I was a Christian, I would not have said that Jesus's resurrection was the central tenet of my faith. I'd have said something like, "Love your neighbor," or "be kind to your enemies," or "the meek will inherit the Earth." I might have said something about putting others' needs before (or at least next to) your own.
Sitting in some heaven listening to angel choirs for eternity would not have even made the top ten.
Death creeps us out, so it's nice to have a little happy story in the back of your head about living with God forever. But since no one except Jesus has come back from the dead to tell us what it's really like -- and he didn't say much -- I think our modern religion ought to have a little more philosophical heft to it. It should be grounded in moral responsibility to self, others, and surroundings. And with that grounding should come deeds to back it up. These deeds should not be performed in anticipation of immortality, but just because something right and good needs to be done.
Well, my zero atheist readers are now saying, "Dammit, Mom, quit praying over me! It's annoying!" (I'm fairly certain that few atheists read "The Gods Are Bored.")
Back to my sermon: Actually what I just suggested is probably the atheist creed, certainly not needing to be tied to any particular faith. However, if you combine that creed with a quiet appreciation of the reality of Higher Powers, you can feel that the good you're doing becomes part of a tradition, perhaps one your ancestors followed.
GIANT WASP IN MY ROOM. Goodbye!