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Perspective

“It’s a good thing Jesus never came back,” Craig once told me, “Otherwise we’d have people walking around with little gold electric chairs around their necks.”

You’d have to know my childhood friend and alter ego to understand the context of this kind of statement.  There wasn’t any.  It might come off as cynical or just silly, but the Big Perspective simply isn’t something people ever can really handle.  It takes gobs of time contemplating the universe and letting the moments form themselves, much like a lazy mis-spent childhood.

Good Friday is the dark day of Holy Week, the annual Christian celebration of rebuke, torture, execution and finally redemption.  The purpose of holidays has always been to take time away from our lives to contemplate the real meaning of the events being marked, but Good Friday is a bit complicated.  How did the life of a preacher come to such a horrible end?

The answer, it seems to me, is one of perspective.  Everyone has opinions about the world and how it does and should act.  If you assume that nearly everyone is reasonably intelligent the question of right or wrong seems rather petty.  Opinions are formed by perspective – a way of looking at the world.  Any one person’s perspective may be very narrow or off to the side a bit.  Where you stand and what you are willing to see in front of you makes all the difference.

The perspective of the Divine is another thing altogether.  You don’t have to believe in God to realize that there the sum of all the possible perspectives of a moment would be utterly overwhelming.  It would certainly challenge every opinion about the world held by every single person just about completely.

That kind of challenge only makes most people very angry.  Perhaps even murderous.

Yet that is exactly what a holiday like Holy Week is all about.  It is supposed to be time spent apart from ordinary life, letting something else sink in slowly.  There are many great aids that have come down to us over the years, especially Bach’s “Passion of St John”.  But in the end the only thing that matters is allowing the challenge of the Big Perspective to sink in past the anger and resentment it naturally creates.

In the end, I’m rather certain that Craig was right.  It’s not that the people of Jesus’ time weren’t ready for a message of love and forgiveness, care and communion.  The problem is that people have never been ready for that message because it causes a tremendous amount of trouble deep in the hearts.  It requires us all to see the world from far too many perspectives all at once and accept their challenges happily.

Someday, maybe we’ll be up to the challenge.  I’m working on it.

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7 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. You have a way of making the most lefty ideas in the world sound conservative & vice-versa. I think I like this one but I still want to argue it. Guess that is what people do in seminary is argue about stuff like this but I have nowhere to start.

  2. Thanks – I think. 🙂

    I’m just trying to bust people’s perspectives a bit, and on a holiday like this it seemed like a good time to introduce a concept I picked up listening to a lot of Bach. I honestly think that some of his sacred (religious) works are meant to evoke what the Mind of God must hear / see / perceive.

  3. A Welsh Twitter Friend provided a link about Easter I found interesting…
    Ēostre [Easter] From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%92ostre
    “…Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the christian’s God. Bonfires were lighted at Easter and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy […]. Water drawn on the Easter morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing […]; here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess…”
    “…The heathen Easter had much in common with May-feast and the reception of spring, particularly in matter of bonfires. Then, through long ages there seem to have lingered among the people Easter-games so-called, which the church itself had to tolerate : I allude especially to the custom of Easter eggs, and to the Easter tale which preachers told from the pulpit for the people’s amusement, connecting it with Christian reminiscences…” – Jacob Grimm
    So it appears we Christians appropriated yet another “pagan” observance…
    Sorry, Erik, s’all I got today. 🙂

  4. All ya got? That’s quite a lot! These things are far more universal than we think. People feel like they have to ditch Christianity or Judaism or whatever they grew up in believing that this makes them a smarter or better person. But when we see how universal much of our traditions are and how far back into deep pagan times they that should put it to rest. I would hope people would realize that ditching this stuff doesn’t make you smarter or better – it makes you much duller and lonely for absolutely no good reason at all other than your own ability to kid yourself.

    • I have little truck with “Evangelical Atheists” who are out in droves this weekend belittling the “faithful.” I am agnostic and belittle neither the theists nor the atheists, and actually enjoy looking [‘though seldom retaining] into the history of religious beliefs [and how much they appropriate from others].

  5. I think I agree that people have their opinions for reasons & that what matters is their perspective. It makes it easier to respect people you don’t know and actually listen to them – which can be hard. I’m thinking about this “divine perspective” that would blow peoples minds before I can buy that.

  6. Pingback: Little Things | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare

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