Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Good Friday is the day that Jesus was crucified. This is the day of Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of Christ. This is a national holiday in Canada. Hot Cross buns are a popular Canadian Easter food celebrating the crucifixion. In Christianity the two most key elements of the faith are first that Jesus was born, ie God became man, which is what the Christmas or Christ Mass celebration is about, and second that Jesus, as man died on the cross. The final 'trilogy' of the Trinitarian religion of Christianity is that Christ Resurrected. It is common parlance in Mass to say, "Christ was born. Christ died. Christ will come again." This is the central subatomic Christian understanding of Creation as imminently and eminently playing and replaying the cycle of birth death and resurrection. Like the cycle of the Sun or stars through birth and death and the resurrection of a new day. The Gospel or Good Word taught that this was true for man and has shown us this in the life and death and resurrection of Christ. God was born man, died and was resurrected to return to God and we God's children, the adopted ones, 'brothers and sisters' of Jesus can have faith that we too have come from God and will with death return to God because life as we know it (St Paul said, " now we see through a glass darkly") is such a minuscule 'take' on reality which is so much more than we 'can ask or imagine'.

That said, the actual story of Jesus' death is a profound commentary on individual life and community. Each person in the Christian faith is asked to see themselves not just as the 'heroic' Jesus but also as Judas and Peter and Mary and Caiaphas. A profoundly moving Christian spiritual is "Were you there when they crucified my Lord….Sometimes I wonder."

Developmentally the child is central in their life and so often with their personal wishes thwarted by externals such as parents or gravity or the neighbour's kid feels themselves the outside,the genius Jesus, misunderstood, the good guy, coming into Jerusalem with all the friends real and imaginary, the fool of the Tarot deck, the carefree young man, the donkey rider. Then the bad world bites our ass and we are Jesus the Crucified , full of self pity and revenge, confused , angry and ultimately with no where to turn making a virtue of necessity, taking the high road, saying "forgive them for they know not what they do." (the bastards).

Identification with the aggressor means literally that since you can't beat them you join them even when they are ultimately against you. So here's Jesus, son of God, the 'chosen', the 'annointed' and while Buddha has had countless babes and Mohamed has had harems and Abraham has had wives, Jesus has had a monogamous probably celebate relationship with his friend Mary and a pseudo homosexual adolescent boys hanging out time with the bozo disciples who can't understand what he's saying because it's that original. Not nearly as exciting a life as a Roman Emperor. Certainly not Caligula by any means. Rather suburban and tame. An ordinary man except for the odd miracle here and there.

We get it but they don't get it. It is is this new news. It is that new. Like disco when everyone danced it like Elaine danced on Seinfeld till one day we could actually look like Travolta. Like hola hooping and computers. What Jesus taught was that new. Since then we've had 2000 years of Christian thinking, Bahai, mystics, eastern religions, C.S. Lewis, Popes galore, televangelists and Kennedy. We've even survived Bush and Clinton and Diefenbaker, Chretien, Mulroney and Harper. We're surrounded by Christians. The Passion is about the day the disciples got it. It's the day when this world, the physical reality, the concrete of Piagian pre abstract children, the money men of swords and missile wars, took a backward step as the day stood still and time changed. All creation in fact was altered as all creation is altered by every birth and death in the unfolding story of God.

The servant king washing the feet of his disciples the night before becomes the human sacrifice of the day and it appears this Friday that the High Court of the land, the Sanhedrin, the laws of men, the up tight House of Shammai, the might of the Roman Empire will reign. It's Darwin, and genetics and 'survival of the fittess' the rulers like Roman Pontius Pilate and his appointed lacky dog Annas , its old money families, the G8 and G to infinities of earthly power, they rule this day. They win the first round. They must have had a great drunken party after to, a little orgy of delight, chopped off a head of a forgotten St. John sort just for the sake of it, slept with little boys and girls, a good crucifixition. That's the day Christ died. There was surely celebration in the high earthly places well below the realms of heaven.

And we're asked to see ourselves as Pontius Pilate in the drama, as Mary, as Peter, as Judas Iscariot, as Caiaphas and Annas, even one of the outcast of the Hillel family of the day, ascendant today, probably as much thanks to Jesus's sacrifice and proof as any intrinsic philosophical discussion. We are asked to see ourselves as those who bind and those who loose. We are both the killer and the killed, the predator and the prey. It is on Good Friday that duality is lost in grief. In the Trinity we become One. The great drama of Jesus with the Three crosses and all the hints of mystery are unfolding today in millions of churches around the world as some billion or more Christians consider crucifixion, the crossroads of time, the day the world as we know it today began.

The charge against Jesus is "BLASPHEMY" . This is the charge of "IRREVERENCE". "You didn't take the earthly authorities seriously." You're an adolescent. You don't respect your parents. You don't kow tow to the police. You don't obey the law. You're a trouble maker. Brush your teeth. Do as you're told. Wear three piece suits. Your skirt is too short. We all are right and you're wrong. Obey. Obey. Don't question authority. Don't rock the boat. You've been questioning our teachings. You're hurting us where the money is. You're made fun of us in debate. You've called us hypocrites. Laws are made by us for you and we are above the law. We can have sex with whoever we please on company time. We can steal and do our own work on company pay. We can profit from wars we create. We can lie and falsely accuse . We can scream rape when we are ignored. We can deny, deny, deny. We can have sex with children. We can kill women and children. We can be racist, sexist and re write history because we are the winners. We can do whatever we please because we have power and you must respect our power or we'll kill you. And if you stir up trouble others might follow you and we'd better nip this in the bud because we've got a good thing going with the Romans. We're the capos of Auschitz. We're the 'appointed' Jews. You say you're a Jew but just because you were born of the line of kings we bow to the real emperor. The real emperor is in Rome. As Marx said, Our God is money. Whoever has the most money can buy us and we'll enjoy the droppings of his table. We like lording it over those who aren't "appointed'. We're the primal 'beaurocrats' . We're the "lawyers". We're the 'government'. We don't work for the people. We say we do and we really do worry about them but we're serving the Romans. We're serving whoever has the money and you're messing with the way things are. We fought hard to get to this gravy train. We're Ottawa and Washington, Paris and London, Moscow and Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, and New Delhi. We are Jerusalem but mostly we are Rome.

And Jesus says he's not of this world. He says that there's this other world, the spiritual world, and that he's not interested in messing with the physical world. Indeed asked about a coin he says whose face is on it. Answered, Caesar. He says "give unto Caesar what is Caesars". The concrete unidimensional world is not the real world. Jesus was tried for Blasphemy. The English word for blame comes from the same root. And you can't 'blame' the government. The government is 'divinely inspired'. Only this century the pope was claiming that he was always right. So there's Jesus in the principal's office and he's being told by the Sheriff that the Mob isn't happy and the Hell's Angels are going to do their thing to him. This is the World Court. This is Geneva. This is the United Nations. These people are by world terms of the day Nanaimo or Brandon or Moose Jaw. Jerusalem isn't Cairo even. It's not Athens. It's the ultimate backwater boonies. These guys who are trying Jesus are as far out in the boon docks from the centre of the known universe as Saskatchewan is from anywhere. Their self importance is astonishing. Yet they've got an invading army in their hick town. This is the appointed powers in Iraq and the Americans are telling the local leaders to shut up that loud mouth Jesus because he could get more Canadian and British soldiers killed with his talk of another Kingdom. He's today's moderate Taliban if anything good could ever come out of Jerusalem.

And Jesus doesn't get a 'Dream Team" of lawyers to defend him. After he's dead he's supposed to be our lawyer in heaven which given his experience with lawyers on earth is a rather odd part of the story. He's a healer and a teacher but later he's an advocate. It's a mystery. God the father is a loose cannon in the minds of men but in his mind there's sanity and he makes the suffering and laws and all that is creation so Jesus is supposed to be a go between. He's like Krishna in this regard. He's the happy face of God after he dies. He's a Ganesh sort. He's the Christian "apologia'. God the father kicked man out of eden and Jesus argues that we should be allowed back in the Garden. The Shack by William Young really makes one think about this stuff in a new way and a very good way.

But that's getting a way ahead of the story. Friday is a very intense day in the life of Jesus. It's not TGIF. First the lower courts and then the supreme court with no civil rights and jailers that later become Rodney King's police. These are the prototypes of Nazi's and the worst of the Homeland Security sorts. We recently saw their pictures when they stripped all the moslem prisoners naked and piled them up. The American girl soldier whose picture we saw all over the world humiliating Iraqui prisoners was one of the people who spit on Jesus and gave him a crown of shorns, acupuncture torture by any stretch of the imagination. Just the sort of thing to shrink the big head of an arrogant manic psycho.

One of the guards was General Patton beating the mentally ill man. Another was the guy who flogged the dying horse in Doystoevsky's novel. Doystoevsky's Brothers Karamasov is really about the Passion as is so much great literature. The Bible is great literature. It's DVD and internet and musicals and dance and vaudeville all rolled in one.

But Good Friday this man who may well have been trying to explain that he came from another planet, "I'm not of this world", was killed as humans kill strangers or have sex with them like Sodom and Gomorrah. We're really perverted killing cowards if we look deep into ourselves and admit to our humanity. Of course the paranoid position is that I'm a good guy and everyone else is bad, or worse, I'm a good girl and everyone else is bad. Poor me.

And the fear of the Sanhedrin and the Roman Empire is shown in the killing of Jesus. His death was like the death of Sadam Hussein. His death was why a lot of folk don't want the State to have the power of 'execution' because despite what the State and Pope and Emperors and Presidents and Prime Ministers and especially Judges, and most especially Supreme Court Judges say about their "infallibility", there's the other side who think they've made a few mistakes in their day with nooses, guillotine, fire squads and crosses. But if there's one thing that's truly human it's that we're 'slow learners'.

And the Passion asks us to see ourselves as each of these people in this glorious play of heaven and earth and all that is. Carl Jung wrote about the Archetypes and took his collection from the European collection that's similar to the Tarot, the Greek and Roman images of different types of inner self in that European play and Mediteranean play that seems to progress in community and in individual lives.

But the Archetypes of Christianity are found in the actors and actresses of the Passion. They're also found in the psyche of Jesus through the Stations of the Cross. The via dolorosa. They're the journey. They're about suffering after triumphance. They're really about aging. The young man comes of age. He ages and dies in a day. One day at a time. In this last day of life he transforms.

Pontius Pilate, was the prefect of Rome, likely banished by Caligula to the armpit of the universe of the day Israel. His father was said to be an Ambassador to the Caledonians. What a poor lot for a military family, father stuck with Celts and son stuck with Jews. Now there's as much suffering as hemorrhoids by any genetic account. Bad karma. However Pontius Pilate and his family are truly one of the "historical facts" of the Bible cross referenced in Roman annals.

Pilate's primary function was military. To get a comparison of what he was doing at the time, one only has to look at the Canadian military leader in Afghanistan. A recent CBC scandal has the Canadian military giving their prisoners to the Afghanistanians who like the Sanhedrin torture and kill them making the Canadians accomplices. That's the way one Gospel portrays Pontius Pilate and certainly the way the Canadians are trying to get out of their responsibility for maryring the Taliban Jesus types. We don't know if any of the Taliban are like Jesus. They're probably more like Barabbas the criminal who is said to have been chosen by the Jewish people over Jesus when Pontius Pilate is said to have Los Vegas' the crucifixion process giving the sporting sort a chance to bet on who would die, the academic cleric doctor teacher sort or the theiving warrior sociopathic criminal sort. Of course the crowds chose the popular man and there is the great flaw in democracy which of course the Emperors of this world love to manipulate. Beware of stupid people in crowds.

And I walked the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. I was a pilgrim to this Holy City. I walked across the fresh bloody streets where Jews had been killed by Palestinians and the world of the Gospel was daily fresh. I worshiped in the Holy Sepulchre at Golgotha. I received mass there from a Catholic priest with a small circle of devout. I cry now to think of that time. On my knees I prayed to be a better person than I am. It is so easy to see myself as Pontius Pilate, Peter, Judas, Caiaphas, the soldiers or even the poor guy who was forced to carry Jesus' cross when he fell on the Via Dolorosa. But it's hard to even think of myself as the thief who repented on the cross. And it's even harder to think of my self as Jesus. It's much easier to see myself as Seinfeld or one of the Friends.

Jesus Christ means God within and God will come again. We are made in the Image of God. The world Creatures of Creation are all made of the Creator. The Imagination of God. We are God stuff. We are the 'star dust' of Joni Mitchell's song Woodstock. We are divine shit if we are shit at all. And What Would Jesus Do or Say is not likely what I would do or say. When I was younger I thought more highly ofmy actions and words. Even Churchill has to look back on Gallipoli. Gandhi's moment of greatness begat the massacres of Moslems and Hindus. If you don't get wiser with age you stay an idiot. Thankfully when Churchill was challenged for changing his opinion he responded by saying that he had the intelligence to learn in comparison to his detractor who appeared to lack that capacity. Because in learning we must forsake our certainty. The greatest leaders have always been the greatest followers. Those who the most learned are also the ones who were able to take the most correction because as the Glass Bead Game of Herman Hesse teacher life is a series of letting go of old ideas, shedding snake skin after snake skin.
This is a day of reflection. This is a day of dying. This is the day when the aged are the most regarded in the Christian calendar because in the life of Jesus this was when he was an old man, a very old man, moments from his death. This was the time when we'd be known most by last words. This was the day when the tomb inscriptions were being made. This is our last day.

As Christians this is the day we may choose or choose not to believe. As one pastor said, "Either Jesus was everything or nothing." There is no in between.

This is the day when the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Iman, the Swami, the Pope and all the leaders of the governments, the Kings and Queens and Obama and Bush and Harper and Chretien and Tony Blair and whoever is in charge in England today and all those European leaders with their sexy mistresses and plush bank accounts of Eurodollars and the Donald Trumps and Oprahs and Jenifer Anistons, Nicholas Cages, and Paul McCartney and Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan and Madonna and Sting and all the other leaders of world either Crucified the King or stood by and did nothing. This is the day that Spock came to earth and Captain Kirk didn't greet him but killed him and probably would have eaten him if they didn't have a good crop year then. Sun baked long pig right off the cross.

This is the day that we should wear electric chairs around our necks on gold chains and celebrate the death penalty. This is the day that we know if we live another day we're human and not God. This is the day we consider our mortality. This is the day of immortality.

This is the day that time stood still. This is Good Friday. God's Friday.

And if I was in charge and you treated my son, or even my cat, or one of my tribe like you treated Jesus, like I treated Jesus, then I'd get a 'rocket launcher" like the one Bruce Coburn wanted in his song. And I 'd build a space highway through this part of the earth and wipe out the planet like the Adams' Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy solution for earth.

We're human. We're Gods' that shit. Our minds and our imagination are immortal while our body, the one's we abuse and forget, the brother asses of Saint Francis, are mortal and limited. Maybe this is just a kindergarden where we learn to control our tempers and possibly do as Jesus taught us, Love God and Love our neighbor as ourselves. Maybe Love will trump fear. Or maybe I should get another RRSP, invest in safer stock, buy a gun and lock my door. Maybe I can whack my neighbor and steal his stash. Better still I can get into government or own a bank or rule a country and fix the cash system. I can cheat and steal and call it "business' and I can kill in the "lord's name" too. Hell, I can kill and call it "love" like the Peacemaker Missiles. The mind of man is a ghetto and probably no one should go there alone. Least of all Michael Jackson. We all need adult supervision and the children are rarely safe.

Maybe today I'll get together with other people and consider the cross. Maybe I'll ask myself through out the day who do I remind myself of in the Passion Play. Am I being like Anas or Judas or Jesus. Do I poison with a kiss?

Do I believe? Is love real or is love false? Do I have hope? Do I have faith? This is Good Friday. Anything is possible. But it's a bleak and rainy day outside. Best to walk softly. Good Friday has also been called Sombre Friday. It's not a superficial day. It's a deep day.

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