Tuesday, March 31, 2015

To Clarify Perspective, The Easter Bunny Needs To Hop Out Of Holy Week..

Ask most anyone what they think of at Eastertime, and you’ll probably get either the Easter bunny or an egg hunt as an answer, with maybe flowers or springtime following closely behind.

So sad.

At the risk of being curmudgeonly and/or party-pooperish, this should not be so.  I get that kids need to have fun at a holiday time and all that. 

But how does the most sacred and meaningful day in all of Christendom get reduced to a bewildered bunny and plastic eggs filled with candy? 

I don’t mean for this to be an attack on secularists, or even on people who love to enjoy life.  However, there is always a moment to pull back, look at the big picture, and say, “whoa – what is going on here?”

In a bit of irony, Easter – the word – is said to have evolved from pagan roots –- namely,  Eastre, the Teutonic goddess of Spring.  Further, the word Easter, as far as I can tell, is never associated biblically with any events of Holy Week. 

Yet somehow through the eons, likely because Spring, blooming flowers, Jewish Passover, Resurrection Sunday and people wanting to celebrate, are all interwoven, the bunny and the egg have emerged as the poster-agents of Easter.  Convoluted? Yes.  But it is a widely perceived reality.

Lest you think I am advocating for commissioning Elmer Fudd to extinguish all “wascally wabbits” or to eliminate eggs as a symbolic source of new life, let me instead suggest an alternative.

Check out and broadcast the real meaning and origin of Resurrection Sunday, aka Easter.  I have found one of the best discussions of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be in N.T. Wright’s book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church.

Surprised by Hope is one of the most “aha!” books I’ve ever read.  It has given me a fresh, enlightening perspective on how the meaning of the Resurrection can affect the core of our faith journey.  Beginning with how the ancients used and understood the term.

Perhaps Wright’s signature theme is to point out that none of the Gospels identify “future Christian hope” as part of the Resurrection story, and, further, they do not say that because of Christ’s resurrection, there is life after death.  (Read that last sentence again.)

Rather, according to Wright, the writers say, “Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah, and therefore he is the world’s true Lord: Jesus is raised, so God’s new creation has begun – and we, his followers, have a job to do!”

Wright then goes on to explain the early Christian idea that God is now at work (and we are a part of it) doing for the whole cosmos what he has done for Jesus in the Resurrection – and what that means for us in our present life and in our future.
Surprised by Hope is a thoughtful and challenging must read, in my opinion, especially during Holy Week.  At the least, it's a wind in the back on the pathway from a pagan understanding of Easter to a cosmos-like grasp of Resurrection Day.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Is Here; Time For A Man’s Fancy To Turn To Thoughts Of…

BASEBALL!  (So very sorry if you were expecting a lovely four-letter word.)
It’s only eight days until the start of the Major League Baseball Season, and here in the Pacific Northwest, for the first time in many years, we are thinking positively!  Our Mariners are finally (expected to be) contenders!
A secondary  baseball season is also beginning this year for our family.  Our second-to-youngest grandchild, Nathan, (photo above) is now old enough (6-1/2) to venture into his first taste of organized baseball, tabbed “Coaches Pitch.”  He follows his cousin Aubrey (now 12), who has played organized ball for several years.
Nice catch, Nathan! Practice hard!
Nathan’s season begins on April 14 and lasts until a week or so into June.  Which means this old grandpa has just about two months to vicariously re-live the experiences of his younger days.  It’s a metaphorical way to experience a resurrection, of sorts.  (Notice the subtle but intentional seasonal link to Easter.)

For me, admittedly good or bad, the start of the baseball season is about as close to a religious experience as you can get without it being a religious experience.  There is something about the aromas of freshly cut spring grass and well-oiled leather gloves coupled with the sound of the crack of the bat that evoke a visceral reaction in my being. 

It has been that way since I was a kid playing ball on a knee-skinning, asphalt-paved street corner intersection in the city of Chicago, where the four sewer covers served as bases and center field was an empty lot split by a power pole.  And where the Cubbies were already decades removed from a World Series win, and that was 65 years ago.

In those days Burt Wilson was the Cubs radio broadcaster (long before Harry Caray) and the team's outfield consisted of Hank Sauer (in left field) whom son Doug and I subsequently met at a U of Portland game in the 80’s in which he was scouting for the Giants,  Andy Pafko (center) and Frankie Baumholtz (right).  They were, unfortunately, “average or slightly above” players who have seemed to define the Cubs for almost a century now.  This year, however, could be different.  O, wait; we’ve said that for all of our lives, haven’t we?

Suffice it to say that when the MLB season begins -- usually right around Easter -- life appropriately seems to click into focus for me.  Daylight hours are increasing, grass is freshly green, trees are bursting into fragrant bloom, taxes are done, and baseball games count. 

Can it get any better than this?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Coming Back With A New Look...

This Blog(ger) is arousing from its slumber with a new look and some fresh topics.  Won't be long until you see a fresh post.  Hang on, they're on the way!

In the meantime enjoy the above photo taken at a lake in the foothills of Mt. Rainier.