Sunday, April 8, 2012

Read It And Weep

As I type, "the faithful" (and the unwilling and the guilted) are filing into churches across the globe to celebrate the resurrection of a man so remarkable that we mark the passage of time by his birth year. In three days, this Jewish carpenter died, conquered Hell, redeemed all of humanity, and then returned to scare the shit out of Mary when she came to visit his tomb. A complete rebirth--for Himself and for humanity. When you really stop to think about it, it's an amazing thing.

Trouble is, I don't believe in it.

This is the first year I am not celebrating Easter.

As a Jew (mid-conversion) this year I celebrated Passover--the commemoration of the Jews' deliverance from slavery in Egypt. An equally remarkable story laden with plagues and death and sea parting all culminating in "Hey! Who forgot to bring the map? Damnit! Hope we're not stuck wandering around out here..."

This year I need deliverance.

As it turns out, I could use a rebirth too.

So why is it one seems so much more feasible than the other?

Let us explore, children (harkening back to my Sunday School days...)

Deliverance: as G_d is all powerful, it seems a small stretch to embrace that He could make it rain frogs or split the sea so His people could walk through. That said, (and assuming the same premise) I am having a very difficult time understanding why I seem completely unable to embrace that He could kill His son--and subsequently resurrect Him--so that all mankind could be saved. Certainly, G_d is capable. So what gives?

Perhaps, for me, it is the nature of the action.

In the Torah (or the first 5 books of the Old Testament) G_d comes to the aid of the Israelites when they can no longer aid themselves. We were SLAVES in Egypt, subject to the rule of Rameses an completely unable to deliver ourselves. As we were utterly helpless, He came and delivered us (but it still took Him hundreds of years to get around to it and even with all that preparation, He still left the handy "get out of the desert free" map at home...)

But in the New Testament, the Jews, while still under Roman rule, had it relatively easy (comparatively speaking). Within bounds, we were free to worship as we liked. So, in the time of the New Testament, the Jewish imprisonment was one of the mind. Jesus (Yeshua), therefore, came to deliver us from being enslaved to a certain way of thinking. It was an ideological rebirth. Surprisingly, it was not all that popular at first. Seems Yeshua received quite a bit of earth-bound Hell for it. And then, of course, there was the literal rebirth.

See, you had me up until that last part. For, an ideological rebirth is one I can completely get behind, but I start to balk at the discussion of a literal one.

This struggle is currently consuming me.

There is a truth here, and I MUST get to the bottom of it.
And, my friends, I think what I am trying to get to the bottom of here is less a universal truth and more a truth about ME.

What does it say about me that I think G_d can rain down death upon all of the firstborn of Egypt, but that I cannot fathom that He would resurrect a peasant prophet after three days?

It says I embrace punishment, but not mercy.

This may be the first time I have ever articulated that statement.

And it scares me to death.

"For G_d so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life..."

I love. I love with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. But I cannot conceive of a self-sacrificing love such as this. For surely, G_d Himself is enough. Surely, such an action would be entirely unnecessary. Surely, G_d has it in Him to do all things. Surely, surely, surely.

I do not believe in Heaven. I love G_d and strive to live a good life, but I do not believe He owes me any sort of reward for doing so. I do it because it is right. I do it because He asks me to. I do it because I know nothing else.

Perhaps it is my lack of belief in Heaven that causes me to question the idea of a resurrection or rebirth. I most certainly believe in deliverance (and pray every day that G_d provide me with it) but a rebirth? A total transformation of who I am into something greater, better, higher?

Do you know how HARD it is to totally transform a human being?

It is harder than sending locusts.
It is harder than killing oxen.
It is harder than inhabiting a burning bush that refuses to be consumed.
It is harder than killing a generation of oppressors.
It is harder than marching an entire race of people across a parted sea.
It is harder than raining manna from Heaven, or writing on two enormous stone tablets.

True change in the life of a man--in his mind, from whence his body follows--is the greatest feat on earth.

And my mind can conceptualize a rise from death before it can accept a change of heart.

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