There is no resurrection without death.

And by death, I mean the total, unmitigated release of everything we are and think we have. The body quits. We do not have a soul or consciousness that lives on in what is known as the “afterlife” – that is a Platonic concept handily appropriated by the early Christian thinkers. It has infected Christian thinking for millennia.

We no longer have any control whatsoever over who we are, what others think we are or have been, or the circumstances our dead body finds itself in. No one and nothing is looking down, or up at us.

We are dead. About as much life as a package of ground meat.

Whatever shape that death takes – cessation of life, relationship, physical ability, occupation; whatever cause whether by self, disease, others’ actions, accident – we lose.

We don’t like losing. We don’t like letting go of this bag of blood, viscera, and bones that hold our dreams and loves and hates together. Our success-oriented, positive perseverance, grit-focused, and stiff-upper-lip society forbids it.

So when it happens, when this shell we live in collapses, when the values and actions that our consciousness cherishes fall away into shards of meaninglessness, there is nothing left.

When Jesus died, he died as any other human being did. Like any other human being does.

The striking thing about the resurrection stories in the Gospels, as different from each other as they are, is that not only were the appearances unexpected, they were unrecognizable. Whether, as some claim, they are historical accounts in the sense that they “actually happened”, or metaphorical symbols, as far as the narratives are concerned the witnesses were totally unprepared for the appearance of a recently crucified and quite dead teacher in their midst. There was nothing in their experience they could compare it to.

There was no sense of “coming back to life” here. There was amazement, terror, fear, and disbelief.

So what to make of Easter? Is this a parable, a metaphor, a popular contemporary way of thinking that in spite of bad things happening everything’s gonna be all right? Shall we always look on the bright side of life? Is this an expression of the human consciousness rebelling against death and its inevitable finality?

Perhaps.

The desire to believe in an afterlife is phenomenally strong and historically and culturally pervasive. As humans, we stand appalled at the thought of nothingness, of the Néant, of oblivion.

However, the afterlife does not solve the problem of death, as if death were a challenge to be overcome. Indeed, the concept of an existence transcending death is the greatest death-denial of all.

The only thing that remains is the mystery of memory, should we be so fortunate as to have people remember us.

So then as the Christian calendar moves toward Easter and its attendant mysteries, this dance of death and resurrection takes an interesting turn for a humanist and non-believer like myself.

The central assumption of the resurrection in Christian dogma is the action of the deity expressed like this:

“God raised Jesus from the dead”

This, in my view, is the ultimate Deus ex Machina – God pulls the rabbit out of the hat. God did it. It’s a kind of theological McGuffin.

The execution of a teacher for calling out abuse and fraud in contemporary religion, culture, and politics makes for an interesting plotline. Good grief, it makes for a news story. You do not need a prophecy to know these things. Look what happened to journalists opposing the Russian oligarchy or the house of Saud.

Furthermore, that plot takes a more fascinating turn when what was supposed to be the predictable result of radical political opposition turns into a theological and cosmological reach through an interpretation that hinges on the reconciliation of what was perceived to be a split in the Divine/Human relationship.

For that, we can thank Paul of Tarsus, a brilliant, crusty, and judgmental asshole if there ever was one.

The rest is church history, in all its more than two millennia’s worth of fissiparous existence.

Nevertheless, the question for many remains unanswered: what happens when someone or something dies? Where do they go? Where are they now?

I suggest we change the subject of that question: what happens to us who are left behind when someone or something dies? Where do we go? Where are we now?

What happens when we grieve, experience loss, regret, remorse, shame?

Paul Court, a good friend, wrote in his song, “Grief is love with no place to go.”

The dead have no use for us. The wound their death leaves in our lives and hearts and consciousness may or may not heal. Whether it’s a loved one, a hated one, whether our feelings are secure or ambivalent or damaged, whatever follows is irrevocably changed into something unfamiliar, unexpected, and alien.

You see, we the living are the ones who have to learn how to live again.

The resurrection is not for the person or relationship or way of life that dies. That entity no longer exists, except in our memory. There is no life for the dead after death.

The resurrection, this strange exile of transformation in our existence, happens to us who remain.

“You’ll Have My Memory” – album Small Things Shining Bright, W&M Edward St Moritz

Sunrise in Wiarton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8Shares

We called it the lurgie, from a hilariously wacky British radio comedy called the “Goon Show”. (link goes to their last show on BBC)

It was a cold, really. Or any kind of upper respiratory viral nastiness that made me sick enough to be up in the wee hours of the morning singing the song of its people.

That and a week of hard physical and mental labour at a job that does not provide sick days because of a provincial fiat removing that particular requirement from employers in the guise of “efficiencies”, I was essentially working sick because I could not afford to take the time off to get better.

Which meant that the weekend of Thanksgiving and my Queen Schweetie’s birthday had me a trainwreck of body and mood.

Nevertheless, I did put out the news of my discomfort on the electrons of social media, and my lovely friends offered many remedies.

I list them below in no particular order or efficacy:

A juice glass of Napoleon Brandy just before bed. Drink it like water. (I liked this one);

Vicks Vaporub® on the soles of my feet and socks over them, again just before retiring. (This brings back memories of the Vicks on my chest and throat and under the nose as a child);

Gargling warm salt water. (this one, too);

A Chinese cough syrup that is sweet enough to double as pancake syrup;

Oil of Oregano. (I can attest that this is a good thing. The taste is bloody awful – think of a distillation into a dropper of every spaghetti dinner with tomato sauce you’ve ever had, into the back of your throat. But it really, really works!);

Honey and fresh ginger tea. Laced with cayenne and diced raw onion. (This is good, too. I like to slice fresh turmeric and ground black pepper into the mix);

Hot bath with a cup of tea with rum. Or cup of rum with tea. (I don’t have a bath tub. Drinking tea and/or rum in the shower doesn’t seem to do it for me);

Natural honey and cinnamon (Always good for what ails you).

The kindness of friends knows no bounds. My thanks to you – you know who you are.

As of this writing I am feeling a bit better. The night cough has lessened and doesn’t sound as if I’m horking a lung out on the pillow.

And the brandy tasted good. I bought a Bowmore single malt for reinforcement.

I believe the Lurgie is leaving the building