It is reassuring that an ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, chose Easter to articulate the message of the Gospel that the Church, and by extension, God does not really like gay people, and that neither does he like the idea of equal marriage. The same old spurious arguments are trotted out that the ‘Church defines marriage’ and slightly more bizarrely that Jesus Christ said that marriage is between a man and a woman – if you could you point to the scripture I would be intrigued. The fact that marriage is a legal arrangement defined by the State seems to have escaped Lord Carey. But the good Lord is against Equal Marriage, as I am sure he was for slavery, and was about to make things crystal clear at a really big ‘I hate fags’ rally right after Easter, but due to events it had to be cancelled – shame really.
The good Lord (Carey) is obsessed by Equal Marriage. It rather a shame he is not obsessed about the incidental stuff of life, like homelessness, poverty, and unemployment.
Honestly I am not reassured by the Church at all, well its very vocal minority, I am not assured that a Cardinal of the Catholic Church who was so prejudiced against queers and deviants that he had to resign over allegations over inappropriate behaviour with Priests, or how the Priests were bullied into silence, and even now have their motivations questioned. More than anything else I am not reassured that the Church has got a grip on what the Easter message is, or should be about.
Giles Fraser in an article last week ruffled quite a few feathers in his article “I bang my head against the wall when evangelicals turn Jesus into Cheesus” (well worth a read on Sunday Morning)
I couldn’t help but see the article, that was largely seen as an attack on the evangelical wing of the Church, with a lot of ‘huffing and puffing’ from the disgruntled ‘Jesus lite’, as call to get back to basics in the Church.
Having attended an evangelical and more traditional Anglican Church in Southampton, and prior to that a Pentecostal Church, I couldn’t help but see his point. The evangelical church has a tendency to gloss over reality, preaching some kind of nirvana, which ultimately spawned the ‘get rich quick’ TV evangelism. There are a lot of sincere and caring people in the evangelical wing of the Church, but the cheesy Blairite tone of the charismatic movement glosses over the ugliness of the Gospel.
As Giles Fraser points out “
No PR agency in the world could sell the disturbing message of a broken man on the cross. That’s why we get Jesus-lite”
The Easter story is a disaster story, this is because it is presented from the human standpoint. The saviour of Israel stands at the door of Jerusalem, expectations are high, the occupying Roman forces will be defeated, and he goes and gets crucified. Not only does he get crucified his followers who have been with him for three years flee in panic.
Men who have travelled Israel with Jesus, the Son of God, scatter, tell lies, deny him and deny themselves.
As usual it is the women who are left to pick up the pieces.
How can you sell that story? The central character of your revolution is not only dies, Che Guevara died but remained an inspiration, but is not crucified, and at least led a revolt.
The sell is not an easy one, well its impossible.
That is why we have Easter Sunday, these abject failures of followers galvanized and empowered by God go on and change history.
The narrative that the Church chooses is the victory on Sunday, not the dismay on Saturday, but the lives of many are of the dismay of hope. How do you remain faithful to the faith when you are persecuted, tortured and imprisoned, or homeless? It is a story that the evangelicals cannot tell. The suffering of Christ and Christians is as important as the jubilation.
Christianity is lived in the hope of a better things, it is not having an easy time, it is about how ‘learn to dance in the rain’.
The problem that I think Giles Fraser was trying to address was put like this in an essay from the left-wing Frankfurter Schuler
“Religion was, for them, not only the opium of the people, but also a repository of hope that had become unintelligible to itself”
To me the hope of the Easter message is that failure is not the end of the story, we have tomorrow.