In the Meantime,
Happenings Mar 15, 2022 – From MI
“Beware the Ides of March!” We all learned that in Junior High or Middle School, along with “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.” Shakespeare’s retelling of the Julius Caesar story is probably better known than the history itself.
Stories are powerful. And like the example I cited, a story can become more real than reality. The argument over Critical Race Theory (CRT) is basically about which story we tell about America. To borrow a religious term, believing a partial truth more than the whole truth is idolatry. CRT is not another version of America, really, but a different perspective on the story we know. The familiar one that is full of heroes and victories did happen. The problem comes from leaving out the stories that also happened. The late Howard Zinn famously wrote “A People’s History of the United States” which back in the 1980s got the same resistance CRT gets now. Several critics saw him as wanting to replace one story with another.
I mention this because as we approach Easter, many UUs know that the story told in the Christian Scriptures is far more questionable than young George Washington chopping down a cherry tree. It is hard for us to comprehend why people would still believe it. This is where we need to remember that it is a story, not history. Ironically, the most fervent Christian and the most ardent anti-Christian treat the story as claiming to be factual, when in reality it is merely actual.
Let me explain a little. Stories tell us about the world as seen through the eyes of the storytellers. If the fish wasn’t three feet long and fought the angler for hours, the struggle was real to the angler and the manner of telling conveys the intensity of the experience. For the community of Jesus followers long ago there was a sense of something momentous, even cosmic, in what happened to Jesus of Nazareth. Their world was utterly changed. That is what matters.
Have you ever felt something like that, a moment or event or ‘revelation’ that totally changed what you thought was true? What words could possibly express the experience? Easter may seem very un UU, but we need something like that as a people – a life shaping moment. One reason I went to Selma is because I knew some who were there. It changed their lives, and the way they saw the world. They told me so. Going there helped me sense some of that, even over fifty years later.
We should celebrate Easter not to reenact something long ago, but to preserve our hope that the world could change like it did for those long ago, and for those just fifty seven years ago. We celebrate Easter so we can remember that it can still happen, that the world can become new again.