MY EASTER SERMON
The Easter holiday is moving towards its inevitable end and tomorrow the world will be very much back to normal, but with the involvement, no doubt, of less chocolate. It is, of course, a Christian holiday but non-Christians are hard put to escape it and its excesses.
People can believe in what they feel they ought to be believe in. In fact, they ought to. But the moment the substance of that belief is found to be based on groundless nonsense they would be best advised to revise their belief structure and allied theories. I cannot understand those who, when presented with a rational, common-sense description of the distant past, persist in their belief in the existence of Adam and Eve. I know these people are possibly becoming as rare as hens' teeth, but nonetheless there are a few scattered around.
But people seem to be hard-wired to believe in beginnings and endings, particularly of their lives. And the jolly twosome, Adam and Eve, represented, to primitive understanding, the beginning. There simply had to be a first man (and first woman, preferably derived from his own flesh as an acknowledgement of his superiority over her) because there have to be firsts. There have to be beginnings. To the minds of early homo this or that (maybe not homo sapiens but yet to evolve to become our species) there must have been a first man, a first woman, a moment of creation, the emergence, at the beginning of the material world.
And, just as there was the mystery of the beginning there would have to be the mystery of the end. The world would end one day (and science agrees), but what of each and every one of us, we individuals that combine to form humanity? What about our ending?
It's obvious that we die and equally obvious that once we've died there's no spark to keep our meat warm and we decompose. Our flesh disappears via a million different mouths as micro-organisms consume it. If we're lucky or unlucky (according to your personal view of things) something a great deal bigger than a micro-organism might come along and make a feast of our bodies before they decompose altogether. The skeletal remains will become bleached if left in the open for long enough, and then, eventually, they too will disappear. And we'll be gone. Finished.
So there has to be more. Owongo the Spotty and his foetid wife Mirumda couldn't face up to the ending. They had little say about their own personal beginnings and it's even questionable whether they related an hour of carnal lust with a happy event of nine months later. Babies were born, the future was established, and they were happy. But what of old age? What happened to the dead?
That couldn't be all of the story, surely?
And from the depths of some vivid imagination, some dreaming, maybe drug or alcohol-induced nightmare this or that old timer droned on about round a bonfire, there emerged the concept of a soul. A spirit. A piece of us that doesn't exist for the one score and ten (then two score, then three score as life-expectancy improved) of human life, but goes on for something approaching eternity. It conveniently and tidily gives us a bit more than we truly deserve. It gives us what we truly want. Life everlasting. And after a period of Deep Thought there emerged the concept of a selection process in which the goodies are separated from the baddies. Then, much later still when there was a great deal of ill feeling in the religious centre of the world as a consequence of brutal Roman occupation and they needed someone to rescue them, the son of their deity came splendidly to Earth in human form (virgin birth, obviously) and died at the hands of those Romans, an event which must surely have repercussions that would resound down the centuries, and his spirit, his eternal soul, had to be seen to join his father somewhere in the skies. And that was the very beginning of the wretched faith that has dominated this weekend.
There were other, better, reasons for celebrating the natural world at this time of year. It is the start of a new cycle of life – lambs (poor little devils, but they taste so nice) gambolling in the fields, mad march hares flirting so vigorously and green things growing. But those wonderful, natural, honest reasons for holding a party were grabbed by cynical Christians and became a celebration of an impossible rebirth after the execution of a man who was probably very good, but a man none-the-less.
I'd much prefer the honest, natural excuse for eating chocolate eggs.
© Peter Rogerson 09.04.12 (Easter Monday)