Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Execution Friday

Today is called Good Friday. This is the day Jesus was executed by legitimate, established authority. It was a good Friday for law and order for the Pax Romana. Christians have tried to find ways to say it is "good" by applying to it complex and sometimes grotesque atonement theories (ie. Jesus was punished for our sins).

Here is my post from last time, Should You Plant Potatoes on Good Friday?

I have also reflected on Good Friday elsewhere, Good Friday is Not Good.

I think the idea of Jesus dying for our sins makes of mockery of the execution of Jesus. The historical person of Jesus died on a Roman cross. There were not just three lonely crosses on a hill. There could have been hundreds perhaps thousands of crosses. Rome crucified anyone who it perceived could make trouble. Rome brought the peace that way.

A good read for "good" Friday is Josephus. You can read his works on-line. He describes the bloody executions by Rome. Jesus wasn't alone. He was executed as a Jew like many of his countrymen. To suggest that his death was somehow "good" is to suggest that the burnings of Jews at Auschwitz was "good" or that the genocide in Darfur is "good." There is nothing good about it. The cross symbolizes the meaninglessness of terror, cruelty, and violence for which there is no answer. If the cross is to mean anything for us today, it is that it represents the absence of goodness. It is the horror of humanity's crimes against humanity.

If commemorating the execution of Jesus raises our consciousness regarding the inherent violence of legitimate established authorities, then perhaps some good can come from good Friday. If we can see that G-d is on the side of the executed not the executor, then maybe we can see where we need to stand as we follow the executed God. Otherwise it is little more than a sacralizing of violence and torture, turning G-d into a cosmic child abuser.

Here is one of my favorite films about Jesus, Jesus of Montreal. A group of actors remake the passion play by discovering the historical setting and are transformed in the process. This scene is the crucifixion.

If you are near our mountain, join us at 1 p.m. this afternoon for a showing of Jesus Christ Superstar (the 2000 Broadway version). The sanctuary will be open for meditation from noon until three p.m.