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Sunday, 21 April 2019

Easter Thoughts

by Tim Murray



I will always remember the traditions my family followed during the Easter break. As a boy, even as a teen, I looked forward to them as much or more than I did Christmas.

I remember Easter Friday with particular fondness, when my Dad toasted "hot cross buns" for breakfast while we all sat down at the table, our mouths drooling, for the moment when he brought them to us heaped on a big plate. No sooner did that plate meet the table when I aggressively competed with my brothers for the butter dish. The immediate goal was to spread the butter before the bun got too cold to melt it. These buns were not ordinary buns, for they had a special meaning, even for agnostics like us. For one thing they had chunks of colored, dried fruits embedded in them, as I recall. After the feast I would sometimes feel sorry for Jehovah Witness kids who sat in my classroom who could never partake in such a ritual. I wondered, did they eat hot cross buns without the cross on them?

Easter Sunday morning was also special. As a life long 'chocoholic', there was nothing so exciting as receiving chocolate Easter eggs wrapped in silver. I couldn't peel off the wrapping fast enough. But chocolate eggs were one thing, but chocolate bunnies another. Invariably, in addition to the eggs, Mom would present me with a large chocolate rabbit. This always put me in a tortuous dilemma. I wanted to consume the rabbit, but I didn't want to kill him.

So days went by before I could finish him off. At first I would dismember his feet, and with enough guilt to deal with for the day, I left him be for a while. Then the next day I would deprive him of an ear, and suffered guilt for doing that too. I rationalized my actions by thinking that somehow, these fragments were expendable. The rabbit could afford to lose a limb or an ear or a nose. But eventually, when I broke off more and more "expendable" parts there came a point when an inner voice yelled out, "What the hell, he's not a rabbit anymore, go for it!"

I think most of us employ the same rationale to justify a lot of actions that really don't sit well with us. I remember reading a story in a novel set in Dublin (Strumpet City?) about a street walker in a confessional telling the priest that she felt guilty about losing her virginity by sleeping with a man a year before she married her husband. "If you felt guilty about it," the priest asked, "why did you continue to sleep with other men after that?" The woman replied, "Well, no one cares about giving up another slice from a cut loaf."

Our brains are not adept at perceiving small changes, and that can be ethically problematic. Incrementalism is a slippery slope that can make us unaware that we are making life-changing decisions when we get into the habit of making small unethical choices, by cutting small corners that become bigger over time. We slide into collusion with the devil by imperceptible degrees so that there is seldom a sense of a moral Rubicon being crossed. We can see many examples of that around us, particularly from LGBTQ zealots who can't see where their prescriptions of censorship will lead us. Like the character "Roper" in the movie "A Man For All Seasons", they are prepared to hack down every law and liberty in the land to get at the devil, without thinking that they too may require the shelter of those laws and liberties if the devil turns on them.

The notion that the ends justify the means is not of course exclusive to the Left. Our innate psychological tendencies often cause us to engage in self-deception, which blinds us to the ethical components of a decision. That is where euphemisms come in handy. By sugar coating ugly deeds with deceptive labels euphemisms allow people to swallow them more easily. People from both sides of the political spectrum or both sides of a war are prone to do that, but none have done it as effectively as the Left. PC Newspeak aims to do just what Orwell said it would do in his famous dystopian novel “1984”. By constricting our vocabulary the political class can constrict our thinking. And by replacing meaningful and precise words with catch-all epithets, oxymorons and absurd neologisms, people will be unable to find the words to challenge them. But again, the root of this kind of deception is not found in a malignant ideology but in human nature. Which brings us back to Easter and its meaning:

Redemption. And how to find it.

One of the most memorable Easter rituals, for me at least, was watching the series of Hollywood movies that were shown on TV during the Easter weekend. I would see the same movies year after year without ever getting tired of them. One of the reasons was that I was always enthralled with the history of ancient civilizations like Rome — or Egypt, or Greece. My mother shared that same passion.

Our most important "bonding" experiences occurred when Mom took me downtown to the Stanley theatre or the Strand to see epic films like “The Robe” or “Barabas” or “The King of Kings”. But the most special of these memories was when Mom, Dad and I watched The Ten Commandments at a Drive In movie theatre in the arid semi-desert town of Penticton under the canopy of a clear sky laden with stars. It made Mom and I feel that we were in ancient Egypt. I was very fortunate to have taken Mom to see Roman ruins in Britain before she died. She was in awe, as was I. Here was physical proof that yes the ancient world did exist and real people once lived within the foundations of incredible buildings reduced to ruin by time. It was not a Hollywood fantasy. Nothing has impressed me more, and it remains my deepest regret that I never saw Ephesus or Petra or the Parthenon or countless other relics of that time.

This year I will depart from the usual repertoire of classic Easter films by watching for the second time a recent movie called "Risen". It is easily the best film ever made not so much about the crucifixion but what happened after it. Essentially, it is a detective story. It’s about the solution of a puzzle which leads viewers to ask fundamental questions about themselves as flawed human beings and the human predicament. Is there hope? If so, from where can it be found?

From my vantage point, is also a metaphor for the Death of the West, the conquest and ongoing erasure of Western and European civilization by jihad migration and those despicable politicians who enable it.

Is there hope for its salvation or resurrection?

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