Happy Christian Day!

EasterIt is Easter. When I was a kid, I never much liked the holiday. It is, after all, not nearly as cool as Christmas. But the main reason that I didn’t like it was that it came at the end of a week’s vacation from school. That never made sense to me. And since I hated school, Easter was always primarily this thing we did right before having to return to school. So I didn’t like it. But there were other problems. I didn’t like hard boiled eggs as a child. The iconography of Easter isn’t interesting. And I was not generally deprived of sweets, so there was nothing special in the sugar OD that Easter represented.

Now Easter can come and go without my even noticing it. The main purpose it serves now is as the ultimate example of how shallow American Christianity is. Pretty much every Christian I know makes a much bigger deal out of Christmas than Easter. They even do this while complaining that, “Christ is the reason for the season.” But as many people have noted, celebrating Jesus’ birthday on Christmas is a relatively new thing. And there is certainly Biblical justification for not celebrating his birthday. But the main thing is that Jesus’ birth is just not important to the essence of Christianity.

The idea of Jesus’ virgin birth is actually hilarious. Assuming that the Gospels have some historical truth (and I don’t think they do), the virgin birth is not mentioned in the first Gospel, Mark. It seems to have been an invention of Matthew, which was copied by Luke. (I no longer accept the Q hypothesis.) So like almost everything we “know” about Jesus’ life, the virgin birth is just a whole bunch of folklore. And if Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin (and if he was, he wasn’t alone), then there is no theological content to his birth. Many early Christians thought that the Christ only entered Jesus when he was baptized. So who cares when Jesus was born?

The whole basis of Christianity is Easter. That’s when Jesus supposedly rose from the dead according to prophecy. This is the big magic trick that is supposed to wash away the sins of the world. This is what allows Christians to live their original sin filled lives and still get into heaven. Christianity really is nothing except for the Easter story. So why isn’t it a bigger deal for Christians?

I think the reason is because modern Christians have trivialized their religion and Jesus. Instead of dealing with actual theological questions, they’ve developed a kind of immature fantasy where Jesus is their best friend. “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.” And I’ll admit, Jesus does a hell of a lot of carrying for the modern American Christian. That’s because the modern American Christian is not willing to do much of any of her own carrying.

The supremacy of Christmas over Easter among Christians is a sign that the religion is little more than a cultural signifier. This is why there are so many conservative Christians who believe in Jesus, guns, and low taxes. I think for these people, the belief in the second two is much more earnest. But for those Christians who take their religion more seriously: happy Christian day!

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