Five Things Resurrection Is Not

Let’s jump right in. Resurrection is not:

1. Factually true. It’s mythically true. Easter never happened. At least not in the sense of Jesus physically getting up, doffing his grave cloths, and walking away. I don’t doubt, on the other hand, that his soul or spirit did actually communicate, after death, with some of his disciples. To say that it’s true as a myth is to say that the story itself conveys deep truth about the nature of Reality—for example, that our consciousness doesn’t disappear into a black hold of extinction when our brains shut down. Read the Autobiography of a Yogi. Masters appearing to their students after their death is relatively commonplace. The evolutionary adventure is a series of irreversible transformations of death into new life. An eternal Heart and Mind is experiencing Life through this cosmic procession, dying and rising again. Easter, in this sense, is always happening.

2, “The” Resurrection. The focus of the creeds and of the gospels is undeniably and exclusively on the resurrection of Jesus. But Creeds aside, when it came to spiritual practice, the church has historically focused on the pattern of death and resurrection as the life that we are called to attain—that we understand and enact our own spiritual evolution within the pattern of death and resurrection, dying repeatedly to the fear-based personality and social systems we construct to help us to feel safe and in control.

3. Unique to Christianity. Every culture, including the Graeco-Roman culture in 1st century culture osiris god of the underworldin which Jesus lived, had myths of dying and rising gods. Male examples include the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Norse deities BaalMelqartAdonisEshmunTammuz,Ra the Sun god with its fusion with Osiris/Orion, and Dionysus.  Female examples include Inanna/Ishtar, Persephone, and Bari. (Source Wikpedia). Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, regard this dying/rising god as an archetype symbolizing the ordeal we undergo in order for the archetype of Self to be realized.

4. A triumph over Judaism. Much of the New Testament is written from the perspective of Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah in conflict with the vast majority of Jews who didn’t believe it. Christians need to be very careful not to perpetuate the supercessionist and triumphalistic tendencies,—in Acts, for example, where Peter proclaims “you (the Jews) crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law, G_d raised from the grave”. And many verses in John’s gospel, despite conveying some deep mystical insights, was used by Hitler to justify the holocaust.

5. A big deal in Vancouver! 🙂 . My city boasts the highest percentage of citizens claiming no religious affiliation, at around 45% of the population. It was life as usual on Easter Sunday, restaurants and stores buzzing with activity. I didn’t even see too many chocolate Easter bunnies. Maybe I wasn’t looking too hard. I suspect this was striking to me, primarily because after 28 years, I wasn’t presiding over an Easter liturgy, which can make you feel like the whole world revolves around Easter.