Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Charles Blow on Trayvon Martin and the "Restoration of Faith": An Easter Meditation

Michelangelo, "Risen Christ" (1532)

Charles Blow writes that the national conversation about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman turns on the question of "restoration of faith": how to restore faith in our justice system as the perception of radically unequal treatment for a white man as opposed to a black teen eats away at the faith of many Americans in a just and honest society.

As I listen to Blow, I hear an Easter question for myself.  Precisely what does Easter mean for followers of Jesus?  What should it mean?

If the Easter narrative is about the restoration of a corpse to life--the revivification of a corpse--does it have any real meaning for the world in which any of us live?  If it's not about transformation from death to life, as opposed to the magical manipulation of a body that has died, I doubt that the Easter story means much at all.

And so if Easter is a story about a magical miracle that we commemorate once a year with alleluias, trumpets, lilies, candles, and big right-wing blowhards (all white men) ranting on and on about faith and religious freedom on television: I'm not sure I want to have anything to do with Easter.  

To be real, to be meaningful (to me, at least), Easter has to have something to do with Trayvon Martin.  And with justice for him.  With meaning for his life--as much meaning as our society automatically accords to the life of George Zimmerman (or Messrs. Dolan and Lori).  

If we people of faith are capable of talking this year about Easter and its meaning in the absence of any hard wrestling with the story of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, if our belief in Easter doesn't issue in a demand for racial justice in our society, I'm not sure we've understood the message of Easter as anything other than extrinsic magic-making, the interesting erstwhile visit of a divine spaceman to earth.

And that's not at all what I understand Easter, with its message of the divinity inside all things which needs to be released through doing justice and loving tenderly, to be all about.  If Easter isn't about the catching up of all things in the fire of divine love, which returns the entire cosmos to God through Christ, then what on earth does it mean?

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