I’m not completely irreligious. I’ve grown up in an English-speaking world, almost impossible to avoid Christian influence. Christianity is hardly the world’s worst religion. In fact, no religion is. Every religion at its heart offers some meaning to life, and that’s a force for good. I don’t have a problem with religion. No, I’m just wary of the religious.
Do you seek a meaningful life? If so, you deserve to be commended. It’s good to live an inquisitive life. It’s certainly better than pretending you have all the answers. That’s what happens when your search for meaning ends before you die. You spend the rest of your life carrying on as if anyone who doesn’t follow you is ruined.
Not like it’s anything new, but Easter has been in the news recently. Some people are offended by Tesco, advertising alcohol that makes Good Friday even better. The thing is… it does! Easter is boring. It’s only more tolerable than Christmas because it’s over quicker, and the weather is half-decent. And anyway, why should alcohol damage Easter’s reputation? Jesus himself turned water into wine, and He was no stranger to a bargain. With only a meagre portion of fish and bread, He fed a thousand people. So why are some Christians rattled by an advertisement for beer and cider? I have a theory: their faith is weak.
The ad didn’t say anything about Christianity. It mentioned Good Friday, and it seems we’re all – regardless of religious preference – affected by Good Friday. Some of us close our businesses early, and remain closed for days because remaining open would be pointless. No one is allowed to have a drink in a pub before 5pm. Of course none of this is going to result in our immediate doom, but it demonstrates that Christianity is not on a slippery slope to extinction. It remains woven into the fabric of our lives. So why get offended by an ad, when it’s obvious that Christianity still holds sway? My theory again: some people have weak faith.
If you have true faith in yourself, you don’t care what other people say. Faith destroys insecurity. If you’re secure in faith, and in yourself, you’ll treat people with kindness, as equals (quite unlike some of our elected Christians). If you’re secure, you won’t mind tackling a few tough questions such as Where does my religion fit into the world? How did it get where it is?
A question popped into my head this morning: why does the Christian religion commemorate Jesus in different ways? Take for instance Christmas and Easter… the birth of Christ is always celebrated on specific calendar days: December 25 in these parts, January 7 in others. But Easter… people often ask When’s Easter this year? Setting the date to commemorate Jesus’s death is trickier:
In 325CE the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. From that point forward, the Easter date depended on the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 for the vernal equinox.
Easter is delayed by 1 week if the full moon is on Sunday, which decreases the chances of it falling on the same day as the Jewish Passover. The council’s ruling is contrary to the Quartodecimans, a group of Christians who celebrated Easter on the day of the full moon, 14 days into the month.
Easter goes by sun and moon, while Christmas goes by the calendar. But… before Christmas the Romans celebrated Saturnalia, a festival of gift-giving and indulgence occurring when the days started to get longer. The point is… things change, but there ain’t nuthin new under the sun. Any studied Christian will know that the young religion borrowed significant dates and rituals from other religions and cultures while competing for legitimacy.
None of this means Christianity is bad or confused. If anything, Christianity has just as many answers as any other faith. But for some to demand that Tesco show reverence… it’s a bit rich. Christianity is the dominant religion, and adherents should be embarrassed flexing their muscles, trying too hard to remain top dog.
Many of us (admittedly not all) of different faiths and none, keep pretty quiet about our deeper beliefs, because we’re not really finished. We still have plenty to figure out, but in one thing we’re pretty confident: everything is just a reworking of something else. This doesn’t sound like much. Actually, it sounds like instability, but we have faith that it’s the right approach. It’s better than believing we’re an omnipotent institution deserving of tax exemption. We don’t believe we have all the answers, but we’re secure enough in ourselves, quite happy that we’re not top dogs. Otherwise everyone would look to us for answers, and we can admit we don’t have them. Some religious types might say we’re flawed, pointless and directionless – I wouldn’t get offended. I’d just shrug my shoulders and say Yep.
So to any Christians – members of the country’s top-dog religion – offended by a beer ad, I ask: why doesn’t your faith save you from offence?
Answer: because you don’t have it. So stop pretending.