Saturday, March 22, 2008
A secular family prepares for Easter.
To all who donated funds to make the window film happen: THANK YOU! I was able to sit in at the kitchen table and help the kids dye eggs. Last year, this gave me such a bad burn that I gave up halfway through. Score one for 3M film!
When I was a child, I (of course) celebrated Easter as a Roman Catholic. Of all the sects of Christianity, Catholicism (and maybe Orthodox Christianity) are the only people who turn Easter into a forty day marathon of holy days and sacrifices. As would be expected, I grew up giving things up for Lent and observing the "holy days of obligation". When I started having children, despite being a believer (at that point), I knew that I never wanted my children to take on the boat load of guilt that the Church lays at the feet of parishioners during Lent. It's probably one of the greatest acts of manipulation that I can think of - you, be you a child or adult, are made to feel completely responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. It was *your* sin that he, proactively, died for. Therefore, you would be an ungrateful sinner if you didn't give up something you enjoyed for forty days and sat your ass in a pew at least twice a week. Looking back, it turns my stomach to remember our second grade catechism class bursting into tears (having had the above explained to us). We were shown graphic pictures of a crucifixion and had the scene described to us in extreme detail ("Can you imagine what your LORD suffered for you, children? Can you imagine the feces and urine and blood that ran down the cross for you?").
But, of course, then came the massive disconnect when you made Easter bunnies out of cotton balls and read Peter Cottontail. And, inevitably, I would have eaten so much chocolate before eight a.m., Easter Sunday, that I'd feel like ralphing during mass. My child's mind was convinced that the sour stomach was from guilt and not the four Cadburry eggs I crammed in before breakfast.
Now I have these four beautiful kids and I can't fathom why my parents would've ever imagined it was okay to lay that kind of guilt on a child. They're not horrible people. So, what was so powerful about the Church that made my parents think this was okay? Tradition. It boils down to tradition. When you're in the Catholic Church (or any ritualistic religion, for that matter), you do what everyone has done for a thousand years before you. You don't question it. And, I truly believe you become desensitized to what's really being taught. If I sat down the Catholic League and said, "OK. I want you to promote this video game. It's got lots of blood, urine, and feces. It has murder...and not just murder, but a graphic portrayal of a man's extremities being spiked to a wooden structure and beaten with whips. The end goal is to make sure you kill the guy on the cross. It's for the kiddies!", do you imagine they'd be okay with that? But, substitute Christ for "some guy" and spin a tale of martyrdom and you have something that is celebrated by the very same people.
We celebrate Easter. But, we celebrate it much in the same way we celebrate Fat Tuesday. It's a cultural thing for us. We dye eggs. We give gifts. We dress up. We have a family dinner. We make pumpkin eggs and cakes. I don't need a holiday to enjoy my family, but I love that we enjoy each other so much on holidays. Love and laughter - that's what it should be about. Not death and guilt.
Here's what we did today. Enjoy!
Posted by Atheist in a mini van. at 5:44 PM