Good Friday and Low Level Violence
So Toronto hosts a Good Friday parade out of one of the local Catholic churches. Always a big draw. Thousands of people attended they say, even the city’s mayor turned up at this one. And what exactly were they celebrating?
Now I don’t call myself a Christian anymore, and so I’m trying to see the situation from a neutral point of view, if that’s possible. So what does one see ? Women and girls dressed in period costumes carrying palms (wasn’t that from the week before? when the palms were a sign of honor and here they’re a sign of what?), men dressed as soldiers beating a man playing the Christ figure who was carrying the cross and stumbling along, occasionally falling down, looking very forlorn and in pain and feeble.
So 2000 years ago, this was a scene from the story of the life of the God-man Jesus. OK. And its relevance today to a general audience is what? This is after all a public event, the bullying, the public humiliation, the flagellation. A theatre put on for everyone to witness, evidently with some pride. So in 2015 when we’ve outlawed bullying in schools, affirmed the undesirability of violence, we still put on public display a scene with all of the above, and bring children by the droves to come and witness the spectacle.
When the movie of the Passion of Christ was shown in the theatres, they say two people had heart attacks during the performances. Hm!?? Hardly surprising. Here too you can’t tell me the bloody story of the crucifixtion isn’t also going to affect the onlooker’s emotions to some degree. And not for the better. The highest rates of trauma are among the first responders to a scene of horror, it’s the ones who see the horror who are most affected.
They say the parade brought in $10,000 last year – so you can see why the church would want to perpetuate this bloody show. But as for being a vehicle of pedagogy or an instrument of peace in the world – well, maybe not so much.
In some parts of Europe they emphasize Easter Monday over Good Friday. You mean some people believe it’s more noteworthy to rise from the dead than it is to die. Wow!
If we emphasize Easter Monday and the Resurrection it means we’ve gone beyond the theology of suffering and the heaviness of the cross to the Joy of Life, to the commitment to live life fully.
The heaviness of the Theology of the Cross has been a burden on the world for centuries. Poor me, the sinner, the wretch, guilty as charged and even before he’s charged, always behind the eight-ball, striving for the perfection of a Jesus Christ he can never achieve. Living life from a deficit.
Let’s leave aside the depressing worldview that we’re here to suffer and the more suffering you do the holier you are. As the Dalai Lama says, only a sick person would deliberately choose to suffer.
Instead start to enjoy and teach our children to enjoy this wonderful experiment called life on earth and leave aside the historical emphasis on pain and suffering.
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