Friday, 2 April 2010

Not Easter Easter

Described as "indeterminate" last Sunday, I do inhabit different religious worlds, and such is not new. Anglicans like other Catholic tending Churches are well into Easter observance these days. I don't know about others, but Anglicans have a long reading on Palm Sunday to account for the fact that many turn up just Sunday to Sunday, so the long reading gets them to and through the crucifixion. Others do the drama through the days that follow and then Sunday is the bursting open of the light, so to speak.

Easter fits into all the seasonality. When I talk to my Methodist friend, it is clear just how little is observed as seasonal. Also, so much that can be plugged into a seasonal observance gets left out. I think the reason is that the mainly Protestant side rationalised themselves away from the seasons: they became focused on humankind, salvation, souls and were dualistic. They were less about creation, and creation was observed as seasonal. Some of the more extreme, media-based, Christian-Zionist groups even want to scrap the lunar based Easter inside the solar calendar and replace it with still lunar based parodies of Jewish rituals at the time, and indeed through the year.

This year I skipped the Thursday and Friday services, and it was also one of the occasions when I missed Wednesday morning, but I did pause on Tuesday evening on the way to the pub. I am not commemorating or celebrating Holy Week. On Tuesday I delivered a CD of hymns in order to the person taking the Unitarian service on Sunday, and by them the evidence seems to be he is ignoring Easter Day altogether. I still might make some reference to the Christian insight at this time, but in a heavily revised form and without boundaries.

For me suffering and means to remove from suffering are general matters. They are not based around a salvation figure and nor is there any mechanical chain from that salvation figure to the rest of us. But I would reject dualism. In fact, I'd say Unitarians are the least dualistic of the non-Catholics. Maybe that is because they are increasingly non-Protestant too. Unitarians are loose with creation talk, but are more aware of life as evolved and all that it implies and they move towards what is creative within and creativity in general. The focus is away from humanity, and more towards the fact that humanity is but one part of this energy in evolution and the creativity that comes from drives and consciousness. We are more united with the other around us than separate and waiting for some sort of other salvation.

I take it that the more clearly Protestant Christians 'lose out' with their non-observance of many seasons, and lack of reference to many minor holy figures along the way. But when you move beyond the dualism thus reinforced, many of the observances can in fact come back - not a host of doubtful moral figures peddled as holy, but some people who clearly have been of impact. One recently we observed in Hull was Hellen Keller, who is a modern day saint of creativity under severe restriction, who can show triumph over adversity. That, of course, is a message around Easter, when you generalise it, and it is about the spirit of creativity over and above the realities of restriction that face so many in the short walk through life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Methodist Church does observe the Christian Seasons in many places, although it has been known to go to a Methodist Chapel on the first Sunday in Lent and there be no reference at all to Lent or its themes. The Methodist Church has a wonderful, user friendly, "Methodist Worship Book" which is much more accessible than "Common Worship". It caters for everything in the Christian Year. There is as much under the Methodist "umbrella" as the Anglican umbrella and the same variety of Christian faith and expression. Just because partcular Methodist Churches do not observe the Christian Year is no reason for their members to make generalisations about Methodist practice.