NT Wright and Easter

Have you already forgotten about Easter? Most of us do pretty quickly. NT Wright, in his book “Surprised By Hope” argues that it is because we Christians are horrible party people, and really are quite cloudy on the totality and significance of Resurrection Sunday.  Here is NT Wright’s own words on the matter.

All right, the Sundays after Easter still lie within the Easter season. We still have Easter readings and hymns during them. But Easter week itself ought not to be the time when all the clergy sigh with relief and go on holiday. It ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after morning prayer or even before, with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day hapy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom? It’s long overdue that we took a hard look at how we keep Easter in church, at home, in our personal lives, right through the system. And if it means rethinking some cherished habits, well, maybe it’s time to wake up. That always comes as a surprise.

Well said Mr. Wright. I wonder how often most of us think about the resurrection. To be honest, I personally do not think about it that often. Even the day of Easter itself has been hijacked by some silly idea of a stupid bunny and hiding some eggs. This made me think of a Jim Gaffigan rant that is quite funny. It centers around how some of the things we do for Christmas and Easter have just become… well what a drunk person might do. I wonder if I will let me kids partake in the Easter idea of eggs and a silly bunny.



9 Responses

  1. “Even the day of Easter itself has been hijacked by some silly idea of a stupid bunny and hiding some eggs.”

    I see this differently, although only recently so. See, the resurrection of the Dying God was one of the great promises of paganism and antiquity, going all the way back to prehistory. I am teaching my kids how Jesus is the fulfillment of those ancient stories and hopes – hopes before there even was hope, so to speak. The fertility rituals celebrated in conjunction were all about the promise and tenacity of life, and received their coronation when Life Itself rose triumphant from mere death.

    I do agree, however, that Easter celebration needs something more…possibly explosions. Nothing says “hurray” like fire and explosions. We celebrate giving the parchment finger to England with explosions, so maybe giving the finger to death deserves some too.

  2. I agree with most of what you said Adam, but still what does it have to do with a bunny and hiding some eggs? As a kid who did not grow up in a Christian home I gotta say that I had no idea that Easter was the highest celebration of the Christian Faith. That Christians were celebrating Jesus’ victory of Satan, sin, and death; and that Jesus had on that day began God’s new creation so that it would be on earth as it is in heaven.

    So why even bother with the whole Easter bunny story? As a parent I would be curious to hear what you think.

  3. Again, the bunny itself is not significant. but as a fertility symbol, it was meant to be a celebration of life. Kids are surprisingly good at understanding metaphor; maybe even better than adults, because metaphor involves imagination. So telling the kids that rabbits have lots of baby rabbits, meaning lots of births, symbolizing the rebirth of Life from death, was not hard for my kids to understand.

    With the eggs…a couple ways to celebrate. The obvious symbol of life/birth, but also that Jesus was hidden in the ground for three days, cracked the stone, and burst forth. The stone tomb could be seen as the egg in which Eternal Life was sealed, until the Life or the Gift inside came forth and was discovered.

    Now don’t mistake, I would never take these symbols on their own, without the Gospel. But I want to avoid two errors. First, that my kids would think that the Resurrection was anything less than the fulfillment of mankind’s desire from the earliest prehistory. It was not just something Jesus made up one day, and by the way it slightly coincides with ancient religions. It IS the ancient religion, made known. The ancient mystery religions were aptly named; Christ rose, and they have since no longer been mysteries, which is why paganism has largely died in the world.

    Second, I don’t want my kids to miss the ability to celebrate through that symbolism. Really, if you remove our overly sex-soakedconditioning, the image of innocent animals begetting life over and over again, and think about that through the innocent mind of a child, the Gospel can be seen as simple and beautiful again. I would bother with the story precisely because it is a story, and one that a child can easily understand. I daresay that many adults could revisit those stories too, and benefit. When I think of Easter as the fulfillment of Paganism, that the resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of mythology, idolatry, poetry, and story, it thrills me in a way that going to church does not (unless of course I find a parking spot close to the door). I want my kids to have an inkling of these things, hopefully as an innoculation against the apathy that may come one day with familiarity.

  4. I thought later to add that we don’t go in for the deception with our kids. It has been intimated to the kids that Santa and The Bunny aren’t real, but that they should be respectful of other kids that don’t know. Allison especially has chosen to go full-bore with her imagination, and fully insists that they are real. So we choose to use the imagery and stories without misleading the kids.

  5. One question.. Has any or all of these holidays become materialized?

  6. I think they have been materialized, but precisely *not* because of the above-mentioned traditions. In my opinion, it has more to do with the loss of those traditions that has led to commercialism. When something loses meaning or significance, all that’s left is its exploitation for profit. Think about a family living on the “homestead”, a house and land that have been in the family for generations. They love the land, and there are stories everywhere they look. Now, imagine a house in Seven Hills that has been occupied for a couple years. Which one is likely to be sold the instant it goes up in value? As I see it, our holidays are the same way. Because we have repudiated the traditions that everyone *could* understand (ie bunnies and eggs) we have forsaken the ones that everyone *should* understand (ie resurrection and incarnation).

    Not my kids though.

    And don’t forget that the material world is the gateway to understanding the spiritual world. So material realities aren’t in and of themselves evil, that is until they obscure the spiritual. Otherwise, buying a gift for your loved one is a beautiful thing, when the greater meaning of “gift” is honored and remembered.

  7. I don’t think 90% of the people know why they buy gifts for people any more. Most of them get into debt so much for Christmas they end up trying to pay it off for the rest of the year. I think you are doing a awesome job with your children showing them the true meaning of holidays but how do we get others to change? I guess I have to many amazing plans to fix this world some day. I hope that I can raise my children some day in the same fashion you are trying too.

  8. I will save my disagreement with Adam’s explanation of the meanings behind the Easter staples as pertaining to parenting until I have kids of my own. A person who has never played basketball should never critique a 7 year veteran. Expect a call in a few years. I have a great deal of respect for the not tricking them part

    I must admit, discovering the myth of the Easter bunny and then deductively reasoning that Santa and the tooth fairy must also be fake was one of the coolest achievements of my seventh year of living.

    It must be stated Adam; not only are you in the minority, but your voice of contextualization is pretty much drowned out by pop-culture. For example, you would have a hard time explaining that the reason we blow shit up and eat copious amounts of meat on July 4th is because we are a country founded on religious freedom. While your point is valid, it is the one that actually looks silly compared to a “silly bunny” and pastel colored eggs.

    Lastly, your use of eggs as an analogy of the resurrection is a stretch taken directly out of the Rick Warren school of Exegesis handbook. But like Rick, I’m sure you can find some obscure ancient text (in his case, marginalized Bible translation) to prove your point.

  9. Thanks Draper – a word on changing the world…focus on the things that you yourself have stewardship over and don’t waste time worrying about what everyone else is doing. Matt thinks my views might look silly to others, but that is their problem and not mine. We all live with delusions of grandeur, which in reality are really deluded and not at all grand. Live the way YOU can live. If others pick it up, and if God grows it, so much the better, but don’t worry on the end and get paralyzed about the means.

    Matt – thanks…I think. I’ll ignore the Rick Warren comment altogether. But as for being in the minority, look around, right now, in the church, the community, the world. Why, oh why, would I want to be anything like the majority? I can appreciate bunnies and eggs and trees and teeth for the simple and beautiful things that they are, without being bound by sexuality or legalism, and I cna see the resurrection of Christ for the world-shattering triumph that it is. So what if no one else can? Why would I want to be limited by their limits?

    Every conversation informs a world view, and every worldview informs a culture. I have been convicted more and more lately to think about the big questions, think about the big meanings, deal with large things. Pop-culture by its very nature avoids big things and thinks about which starlet puked outside which club yesterday. Those things aren’t worth our time.

    And let’s not get started on the growing worship and obsession with “culture” in the church. Or let’s. It might be fun. It is a big question.

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