Friday, March 21, 2008

It's Easter, which means ...

IT'S EASTER, GOOD FRIDAY, a day when government flunkies fan out around the country to sacrifice shop-owners, and the Christians who insist on their sacrifice to the gods of bureaucracy celebrate the sacrifice of their own ideal two-thousand years ago.

Every religion has its own myths that go to the very heart of their beliefs. The Easter Myth is central to Christianity, and all too revealing of the ethic at Christianity's heart.  Bach's St Mathew Passion' musically and beautifully dramatises the Myth, and is all too revealing of the nature of it.

Just think, Christians revere Christ as their ideal, and Bach has his chorus praise him, worship him, and eulogise Him -- this after all was their hero, the man they believe their god sent to earth as an example of the highest possible on this earth -- and then they and that same god went and had him killed.

That's the story. This, says Bach, is what Christians revere: The murder of their ideal.  

In Pagan times, Easter was the time in the Northern calendar when the coming of spring was celebrated -- the celebration of new life, of coming fecundity.  Indeed, the very word "Easter" comes from Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, and means, symbolically, the festival celebrating the rebirth of light after the darkness of winter.  But with the coming of Christianity, the celebration has been hijacked to be a veneration of sacrifice.

Such is the nature of the Easter Myth, and of the ethic at the very heart of Christianity. Not peace, not love and understanding, but sacrifice -- the murder and torture of tall poppies -- the sacrifice of the Christian's highest possible for the sake of the meanest most rotten 'sinner,' whose redemption Christ's murder was supposed to buy.

To put it bluntly, the Easter myth that Bach dramatises so well is one of suffering and sacrifice and murder, and the collusion of a supposedly omnipotent and omniscient god in the murder of his own son -- and if you subscribe to the whole sick fantasy that's what you have to believe; in the name of religion he shows us that the good (by Christian standards) must be sacrificed to the rotten; the constant to the inconstant; the talented and inspirational to the lumpen dross -- the ideal to the worthless.

For Christians, then, Easter is a time to revere that sacrifice and to remind themselves (and us) of the centrality of sacrifice to their fantasy. Oh yes, there's a 'rebirth' of sorts, but not one in this earthly realm, and not before a celebration of intense pain and suffering that supposedly bought redemption and virtue for those who possessed neither.   As Robert Tracinski says so bluntly, "Easter's Mixture of the Benevolent and the Horrific Reveals Religion's Antagonism to Human Life."

THERE IS ANOTHER STORY that stands in complete contrast to this one, that is in all senses its polar opposite. Unlike the heroes of Bach's Passion, the heroes of Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead shun sacrifice. The ethic of The Fountainhead, one for which each of the leading characters fights in their own way, is one in which genius has the right to live for its own sake.  The contrast with the demand of Christianity that The Good inheres in the act of suffering and dying for the expiation of others could not be stronger, or the question more important!  Rather than demanding and worshipping the sacrifice of the highest to the lowest -- or as Nietzsche did, retaining the ethic but reversing the beneficiary of the sacrifice by demanding the sacrifice of the lowest to the highest -- the ethic of The Fountainhead insists that The Good is not to suffer and to die, but to enjoy yourself and live -- without any sacrifice at all.

In my book, that really is an ethic worthy of reverence.

NOW, I'M ALL TOO aware that if you believe the Easter Myth, then anything I say here is going to pass right by you.  So if you do insist on venerating sacrifice this weekend, and especially if you're intending a bit of crucifixion yourself, or even just a bit of mildly flogging or self-torture, then here are a few simple Easter Safety Tips for you from the Church, which are not unfortunately intended as satire.

And now here's a Nick Kim cartoon from The Free Radical for all the bureaucrats who are working today ...

   Easter_Trading

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37 Comments:

Blogger ZenTiger said...

this after all was their hero, the man they believe their god sent to earth as an example of the highest possible on this earth -- and then they and that same god went and had him killed.

Since you are flinging accusations around, allow me to clarify: actually, you and your friends murdered him Peter. You exercised free will in defiance of God. And the best you could do was murder.

Your Easter tradition continues, as you preach freedom to exploit others - evident in the way you blame the wrong set of people.

Not peace, not love and understanding, but sacrifice -- the murder and torture of tall poppies -- the sacrifice of the Christian's highest possible for the sake of the meanest most rotten 'sinner,' whose redemption Christ's murder was supposed to buy.

Is your version of peace, love and understanding where you kill them all...?

Can't wait for your ANZAC day diatribe.

3/21/2008 10:42:00 am  
Blogger KG said...

What a sad, mean-spirited and ignorant little post--what are you afraid of, PC?

3/21/2008 11:21:00 am  
Anonymous JC said...

"To the man with a hammer..."

But ordinary mortals believe the reason we have penalties for working on holidays is because of the unions.

Good Friday is not a holiday in Italy, or a Fed holiday in that hell hole of of fanatical religious nutters the US, but it's a holiday in Indonesia and a number of other Muslim countries.

So GF is a tradition in many countries around the world, whether it be India, the UK, Hong Kong or NZ.
It is not a requirement of any major Christian church that I'm aware of, rather it's a union driven thing that many or most people of different beliefs and non belief connive in to get a day or two off.

JC

3/21/2008 11:24:00 am  
Anonymous James said...

You bought the creepy crawly lord loving lickspittles out with this one PC!

3/21/2008 11:45:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, you and your friends murdered him Peter.

Really? I didn't realise he'd been around so long - that explains the wondrous knowledge of everything under the sun, I guess. Who knew?!


What a sad, mean-spirited and ignorant little post--what are you afraid of, PC?

Unlike the daily postings on your blog. Try opening the other eye.

Good post PC.

3/21/2008 12:25:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Nice one anon. Now you just have to figure out what I actually mean. Then maybe we can have a conversation.

3/21/2008 12:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The essence of Easter to Christianity is death and resurrection. Without that, it is a mere ideology. Christ died, Christ rose again,witnessed by thousands. Believe it or don't beleive it, is the choice.

Believe it and then the rest of the bible becomes relevant. Don't believe it and you can have whatever this life dishes up to you, or, whatever you can wrest from it. That is your meaningful lot.

Oh, and eternal judgement if you are wrong.

Free choice, it's a wonderful thing.

George

3/21/2008 01:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure everyone who reads this blog is aware of what you mean ZT. That is why it is mocked.

As PC said - Christ - the highest ideal - was sacrificed to the lowest. You imply rational selfishness sent him to his death - collectivism sent him to the cross.

Christ was a radical non-conformist and I have no problem with that. He was certainly no conservative. In fact it has often been said that if he returned today he would be killed by today's Christians.

3/21/2008 01:59:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Well, everyone but you then got what I said anon. You are still off the mark.

n fact it has often been said that if he returned today he would be killed by today's Christians.

And that would often be said by people like you?

3/21/2008 02:04:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Zen, you said to Anonymous, >"Nice one anon. Now you just have to figure out what I actually mean. Then maybe we can have a conversation."

Much the same could be said to you, sir, when you asked me "Is your version of peace, love and understanding where you kill them all...?" -- because although you might have misunderstood the point of my Nietzsche reference, you surely couldn't have overlooked the reference altogether.

Might I invite you now to reflect on what I meant by it?

You see, you abhor my claim that Christianity praises the sacrifice of its ideal man to the mob, and you yourself suggest I am proposing as an alternative the sacrifice of the mob to the ideal man -- whereas in my post above I'm specifically ruling out both barbarities as false alternatives.

I'm surprised you missed that.

May I suggest you re-read those last paragraphs again, where I argue that rather than demanding and worshipping the sacrifice of the highest to the lowest -- or as Nietzsche did, retaining the ethic but reversing the beneficiary of the sacrifice by demanding the sacrifice of the lowest to the highest -- the ethic I'm arguing for is one that says sacrifice itself is wrong, of whoever to whomever, any time, any place.

I'm saying that, when properly identified, there is a natural harmony of interests between men, and that a rational ethics consists not in demanding sacrifices, but in learning how to live well.

As I say, in my book, that really is an ethic worthy of reverence.

So may I invite you to re-read and re-think, and then perhaps we can have our conversation ... ?

3/21/2008 02:14:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Why don't we start at the beginning Peter, rather than with your last paragraphs? After all, that is where you make your first mistake.

You don't have to agree with Christianity, but I don't see any attempt from you to understand it. Only one to re-interpret it, and then mock and denigrate your interpretation at every opportunity.

Shall I rephrase Libertarianism and then we proceed to have a pointless conversation about an alternative meaning that must be dealt with first? How stupid would that be?

There's plenty of fuel from the likes of heroes like Roark who think it fine to destroy what others have helped him create.

3/21/2008 04:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roark didn't destroy his highest value though. He didn't sacrifice it to the lowest.

Maybe you should stop evading that fact.

3/21/2008 06:08:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

And neither did Jesus (destroy his highest value) he demonstrated it - in an act of selfless love.

The argument that Christians are "revering murder of an ideal" is facile, and ignores a wealth of thinking behind salvation theory.

It's an argument half made too. For it ignores a very key factor in this story.

Christ then rose from the dead.

3/21/2008 07:48:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Which once again perfectly sums up the Christian ethic: Seek not pleasure in this world -- focus instead on the credits you've supposedly stored up in the next world through martyrdom and suffering in this one.

In other words, ours is not to reason why, ours is just to suffer and die.

Doesn't get much more disgusting, does it.

And the only reward for your suffering, if you can call it reward and if you discount the fact that it's total fantasy, is the seventy-virgins [Ed. oops, wrong religion] what sounds to be eternity spent in the most boring place imaginable.

Which really does sound to me like martyrdon.

3/21/2008 08:12:00 pm  
Blogger dad4justice said...

Hey PC I think it's you that's from the egotistical martyrs asylum.

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the demented and fanatical atheist, but the twisted cynic who cares not whether there is a God or not.

Either way you are a fool as you fall in both categories..

3/21/2008 08:31:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

PC, you really are missing the wood for the trees (or is that the other way around?)

Your re-interpretation of the Christian message has little similarity to my understanding of this.

You are inventing arguments that you can then disparage.

In other words, ours is not to reason why, ours is just to suffer and die.

Your lack of understanding 'can't get much more disgusting than that'. Surely you don't really think this?

3/21/2008 08:41:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna Maria said...

You only have to look at the amount of writing available today on understanding suffering to see there is a lot of 'reasoning why'.

3/21/2008 09:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

It is time to enjoy Easter and for whatever each person's personal belief Garth George has some good advice here:

Garth George: He's not myth or fable, he's my personal saviour

And Garth George quoted my favorite hymn song, which is : Jesus Christ is risen today , Alleluia!

PS : I am not a believer, however music is music as Reishman says, A is A, and that's it. I love the harmony of the hymn, which I frequently sing with my mates over a drinking session.

3/21/2008 09:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.jesusandmo.net/2008/03/21/cake/

3/22/2008 12:56:00 am  
Blogger AA said...

If you click on Zentiger's name you will go to his profile where it is revealed that his astrological sign is Virgo and his Zodiac year is Tiger. And what's with the Zen in Zentiger? Does it have something to do with Zen Buddhism? So what's with the passionate defence of Christianity? It seems that Zentiger is prone to believing any nonsense that passes by.

3/22/2008 08:02:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You only have to look at the amount of writing available today on understanding suffering to see there is a lot of 'reasoning why'.

Which kinda shores up PC's point...eh.

3/22/2008 09:51:00 am  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

AA: Wow, I'm flattered with your in-depth psycho-analysis. But don't quit your day job.

Anon: I don't think it shores up Peter's point. And it's tempting to then look at the reverse - a small amount of writing on Libertarianism means it's more sensible? That must mean the Flying Spaghetti Monster makes the most sense of all!

The thing is, all of us in life will experience a certain amount of pain and suffering, as we will also experience joy and happiness.

It is inevitable people will think about this, philosophise about it and come to some understanding about this.

Worry less about whether a miracle really did happen 2,000 years ago, and more about the message adopted by so many of his followers.

That message is unfortunately being misinterpreted here by Peter, due to some ingrained filters. At the very least, if he started using the phrase "some Christians might believe this..." it opens the way to him understanding that "some" other Christians might actually believe something different, when it comes to expressing this in action and deed.

Take me for example - other than defending my faith, I have no interest in imposing it on others.

That doesn't mean that I don't value the opportunity to discuss ideas and examine consequences, and possibly change some perspectives, but I repeat (and it's worth repeating because it always seems that this is the atheists greatest fear) I have no great desire to impose my will by force or compulsion.

Indeed, I try to take a "libertarian" point of view by default when it comes to considering State intervention, and generally believe in a small government managing core services.

Now, you may not see my starting point, and sometimes you will strongly disagree with my ending point, and that is one of the reasons I read this blog. I can learn a lot from the Libertarian perspective, and I think it important to understand it. Peter will no doubt recall posts where we are in alignment.

Conversely, you see a party like the Greens adopt an authoritarian approach to problem solving, and this is one of the main reasons I criticise them so.

AA might see my views as "believing any nonsense that passes by", but over time, it may be some here will understand I spend a bit more time thinking about these things than credited. I've read Rand. Have you read Aquinas?

3/22/2008 11:01:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Zen Tiger - "You only have to look at the amount of writing available today on understanding suffering to see there is a lot of 'reasoning why" DOES shore up Peter's position - and his entire post.

Sacrifice, pain and suffering have NO intrinsic value. The idea that copious amounts of writing exists on 'understanding suffering' is abhorrent.

Peter is not 'mocking easter' either - he is just posting a few facts that many people find uncomfortable and would prefer not to look at.

I'm sure you don't want to force your beliefs on anyone - but the fact remains that is getting harder and harder for those of us who don't believe to find a quiet place away from the nonsense.

3/22/2008 07:22:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Sacrifice, pain and suffering have NO intrinsic value.

Sacrifice: A man lays down his life to save his family. Has value.

Pain: Child burns his finger on a hot stove. Lesson learned. A valuable lesson.

Suffering: A drug user reflects on the long standing suffering they and their family experienced that they later attribute to a reason for examining their life choices and completely turn their life around. Valuable.

Peter is not 'mocking easter' either - he is just posting a few facts

As I have explained - Peter makes out he has interpreted Christianity and is supposedly telling me what I think. I know from my discussions with others he is also misrepresenting or misunderstanding them also. His "facts" are therefore wrong, (or at least hardly a universal "truth") and are merely opinions.

I'm sure you don't want to force your beliefs on anyone - but the fact remains that is getting harder and harder for those of us who don't believe to find a quiet place away from the nonsense.

That explains why you clicked on a post labeled "Easter". Surprise!

(Unless Peter has promoted the idea that his blog is merely an echo chamber, and you expected the same sentiments expressed in all of the opinions? Never mind, perhaps Peter will do a Roark and simply delete his post, taking the comments with it. Wouldn't that be a fine example of Randian ethics?)

3/22/2008 11:10:00 pm  
Blogger AA said...

fkwqyfgAA: Wow, I'm flattered with your in-depth psycho-analysis. But don't quit your day job.

It wasn't an in-depth psycho-analysis, just an observation. Christianity isn't even recorded as an interest on your profile.It's interesting that something so important isn't mentioned at all yet occcult rubbish is.

3/23/2008 06:17:00 am  
Blogger AA said...

What a sad, mean-spirited and ignorant little post--what are you afraid of, PC? KG

I've read this post a couple of times now and it seems similar to others that PC has done. We all know PC likes to have a dig on holy days and I look forward to them. It certainly doesn't warrant the comment above so what's up KG? I thought you said you were an agnostic.

3/23/2008 07:23:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FF, there is one version here with more verses of that hymn.

CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY , Alleluia!

3/23/2008 08:59:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

This whole religious nonsense is getting out of hand.

Religos have blind faith in a super-natural spirit world populated by devils, hobgoblins, angels, ghosts, the walking dead and such like. They have a mythology they retreat into in order to pretend such nonsense is real. Whether the myth is recognised to be about suffering, murder, values or merely a vague niceness is all down to the interpretations of the religious daydreamer you happen to be corresponding with at the time. That's an important point to understand.

While the actual scripture, it's principles and premise are clear enough to anyone who reads it, the religo frequently is unfamilar with it, choosing to tangle his attribute of reason in rationalisations and towers of excuses, evasions and deceptions. In the end it all boils down to his feelings and emotionalism.

The result, in practice, is that most religos these days are inconsistent in their approach to their religion. They cherry pick the good bits and leave the rest. This is a good thing as it allows them to act rationally for at least part of the time and behave in a civilised fashion, engaging in secular society peacefully enough. The drawback is that it is not possible to to reason with them about matters religious. The myth they follow is feelings generated and alters with the wind. You'll never pin them down. Zentiger is demonstrating this presently.

In conclusion, while religion is a short circuit of the mind and a form of intellectual illness, it is fortunate that those who follow Christianity in the West are inconsistent religionists, predominantly civil and well behaved. As religion wanes, civilisation will prosper and advance further. It is simply a matter of replacing the ignorance of blind faith with the knowledge of reality.

LGM

3/23/2008 09:10:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zen, I thought you said you had read Rand? If indeed you have then either you didn't take her philosophy on board, or else you are being deliberately disingenuous. Look up Sacrifice and other topics in the Ayn Rand Lexicon - it's on line somewhere.

When I said we want a quiet place away from the nonsense I wasn't talking about this blog, for crying out loud. If you haven't noticed the damage religion is doing to science and human rights around the world then you haven't been paying attention.

I hope you find peace your 'Zen State' or whatever you are looking for - but you won't find it in religion. Have a read of 'Anthem'.

3/23/2008 09:41:00 am  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Zen, I thought you said you had read Rand? If indeed you have then either you didn't take her philosophy on board, or else you are being deliberately disingenuous

What, like PC and his take on religion? Re-read my comments. This is exactly my point.

AA said: It's interesting that something so important isn't mentioned at all yet occcult rubbish is.

That 'occult rubbish' (calculating a star sign and a Chinese astrological sign) are generated by Blogger, and I didn't notice a way of turning them off (short of removing my DOB). Thus it probably overly accentuates that aspect. Don't read too much into it.

My blogger profile mentions one of the things I find important: a call for others to think about how they are spending their time and their life. That's not meant to be a religious statement either.

3/23/2008 12:00:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Thanks AA, your comment prompted me to revisit my blog profile. I discovered an option to remove the astrological text. I'd never noticed that before. I don't need it there.

3/23/2008 03:22:00 pm  
Blogger AA said...

My pleasure ZenTiger. It did give the impression it was deliberate. There's no sense in giving militant atheists like me sniping ammo.

3/23/2008 09:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Grant S said...

Forget about bashing Christians and misrepresenting conservatives dear Uberlib God Cresswell & other inculcated Libertines - stop being so inwardly focused - Libertarianz barely garnered 1000 votes in 2005 - pathetic. Pull your heads out of your arses and get real. The real battle is against the tide of global socialism.

Dispense with the ideological masturbation and get with the program, fools.

3/23/2008 11:51:00 pm  
Blogger AA said...

Where can I get a copy of the program Grant and will I get to wear a nice uniform?

3/24/2008 06:57:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real battle is against the tide of global socialism."

You don't win that battle by surrendering your positions to it without a peep.Strong principles and conviction are what allows that war to be won....insted of just getting that Socialism in another guise...

3/24/2008 01:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christ died, Christ rose again,witnessed by thousands.
Actually, not witnessed by anyone. There's not even any very good evidence that such a person as "Jesus" ever actually existed at all!

3/24/2008 06:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, NPC, you've antagonised people whose belief systems are about as sophisticated as three year olds. Easter is an hilarious reminder of the gullibility of True Believers. This nonsense about Jesus the Zombie King waking up after being killed by a bunch of over-zealous Italians. It's risible (if you pardon the almost pun). Stick it to 'em I say! Even if Jesus was an historical figure - he's more a friggin socialist agitator than God. All these bullshit sermons against wealth and money-lenders. No wonder the good folks running the Near East back then decided this pinko needed to STFU. I think I would have happily speared the sanctimonious prick too.

3/27/2008 07:27:00 am  

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