Behold the Man
Time certainly flies. It seems like just a few days ago, finals were over and this term was starting. Now, here we are, the snow is melting, the sun has started coming up before many students, and spring is on the way. And Easter.
Easter is an unusual holiday in a few ways. The most obvious one is that it doesn't always come on the same day, although the weekend after midterms is usually a safe guess. It just seems to be one of those things. On a deeper level, however, it seems that we have a holiday dedicated to remembering that someone died. Lots of people die every day, but this case is special for two reasons. First, it was arguably the single most significant figure in history who died, Jesus of Nazareth. Second, and more importantly, according to Christian doctrine, he didn't stay dead.
If anyone doesn't know the story, a condensed form is as follows: Jesus was God in human form and came to Earth to buy us forgiveness for the wrong things (sins) that everyone has done. He was crucified (i.e. executed) by the Romans and, 2 or 3 days later, depending how you count it, he came back to life. He then commanded his followers to tell everyone and said, using his I-am-God authority, that he would give everybody who believed in him, admitted that they had done wrong, and asked to be forgiven a new and better life in a perfect world (Heaven) after death. Overall, a little over a third of the population of the world accepts this as true, and historically, they have had a lot of power. These days, however, a lot of that seems to be changing.
A big reason for this is that there are less and less dedicated Christians in the world. At least, in North America and Europe, the rest is a bit beyond my knowledge. I have heard a few reasons for this, like the prevalence of the media, that most people just accept what they are told instead of trying to figure things out themselves, and the conflict that has developed between some traditional Christian values and modern science. Fewer people are willing to spend their lives in the service of any cause, and those tat do generally pick one that has less rules and more direct benefits. Society has pretty much accepted that people will try to get out of agreement when it is no longer in their own interests.
But there is another reason why Christianity is loosing adherents: People just don't care. They rarely think beyond a year or two, and what plans they do make, they are willing to change at any time. They value truth for it improves their lives, not for its own sake, and justice only when they feel wronged. Most people's lives revolve around sensual experiences, and they couldn't care less what harm it does to society.
Then there is Jesus. His teachings are about the opposite. Value others above yourself. Don't put your trust in material things. Love your enemies and do not retaliate when you feel wronged. Trust in God in times of trouble, not society or other people. This did not fit in with society in Roman times and it does not now. They are completely irreconcilable, and lead to very different views of the world. Accepting Jesus' values isn't always fun, and it may get you excluded from some circles where you just seem too different. On the other hand, they do have staying power, and there have been Christians saying that they actually lead to a better life for a long time, so it doesn't seem fair to just dismiss them without thinking. If Jesus wasn't who he said he was, he started the biggest hoax in history. . We celebrate Easter because of a man who changed the world like no other, whether you call him Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.
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