As the now-dominant Media Class consolidates its political and legal powers and pursues the Culture War with greater ferocity and success, we see the traditional Christian time of Easter join Christmas on the list of proscribed activities. There was a time in the UK, a mere half century ago, when on Good Friday almost everyone ceased work and all entertainments except radio closed down for the day. The following Sunday was if anything, even more a day of religious devotion. For those with little interest in matters of Faith (and there were millions of such people in the UK) these were days of rest and time for work on the garden or allotment or a walk with the family. No-one foresaw that this would change so completely in the next fifty years.
My family, like many working class families in the UK, was not religious in that my parents, my many aunts and uncles and my grandparents only attended Church for weddings, Christenings and funerals, in that order. As far as I know, none said prayers and we never listened to Church services on the radio but my parents let me join the Salvation Army after the Army band started to come to my street on Sunday afternoons. By the mid 1950’s the cinemas had begun to open on Sundays and then I discovered a jazz club, girls and a lot of other activities that seemed more exciting than the Salvation Army. Within a short period of time I was intellectually and emotionally captured by one of the many Marxist organizations that flourished in the UK in the late 1950’s. During my brief but intense time in the Sally Army, I found the Christian story of Easter both baffling and profoundly disturbing. The descriptions of Jesus’ triumphant passage through the gatherings of people, almost immediately followed by Judas’ betrayal and the cries of the mob for Jesus’ death by crucifixion, were too depressing and bewildering to contemplate. I put the whole thing away for the next decade or two until I had growing children who seemed eventually to be in need of something more than the secular upbringing I was providing. Even then, although rejecting the atheism of my Marxist days, I spent little time thinking about Christianity. I did however start recognizing that the old ways of our people were being abandoned at a great price and that secular ‘progress’ was not all that it seemed. A political comrade on my journey from Left to Right once said to me that Christianity contained two thousand years of accrued wisdom. I never forgot those words, though sadly I think he did.
This last Sunday I attended a Church service here in the US, the first one in my adult life that was not prompted by a wedding, Christening or funeral. I was not much impressed by the soft-rock whiny, repetitive pop hymns, the assembled orchestra and large hand-waving choir. I was reminded of pop concerts where everyone feels they have to participate and seem wildly happy. Still, this is the US, people are rarely inhibited and everyone was having a good time and who am I to judge their sincerity? If it had all come to an end after the many songs I would have concluded this was not for me. But then a pastor came on stage and began to talk about Easter and Grace, about the three officials who investigated Jesus (Caiaphas the Jewish High Priest, Governor Pontius Pilate and King Herod), and the mob who demanded that Jesus be crucified.
With many years of life experience, I now understand the fickleness of any crowd, and how those who greeted Jesus so rapturously might not have been the same people who the next day demanded his blood. Indeed the mob who intimidated Pilate into ‘washing his hands’ may have been the same kind of rent-a-mob we see all too often in modern times. The story of Easter and the Crucifixion is still profoundly disturbing to me but for different reasons than when I was young. Was Jesus the Son of God? Maybe I will never share the faith and conviction of those who sat around me on Sunday, but I do not doubt that Jesus lived and died much as the New Testament records and that the events of his final days tell us all we need to know about the human condition.
I can see why the Easter story is resented by Jews and why in the past it has caused Christians to lay a collective blame on the people who produced Jesus and most of his Disciples. Today, Jews appear to be in the vanguard of those who would evict Christianity from the public sphere even though Christians are now the defenders of Israel. I suppose old habits die hard. What is amazing, and for me intensely challenging is that the Easter story and the religion that was born from the Crucifixion of Jesus, has lasted for two thousand years and is still wholly relevant today, just as the Pastor said. Sadly, the wonderful, loving, civilizing message of Christ has once again come under a deadly attack. In the last century the Communists persecuted with torture and death the Christians in Eastern Europe, the National Socialists did so in Western Europe and the Muslims have been doing so in the Middle East. Now, here in the American heartland of Christianity, Christians face a new persecution as the Leftists and Media Class rulers seek to bury the Christian morality that stands in the way of their new moral order. I am certain Christianity will survive this new enemy, as it always has survived, but the Culture War is only just beginning and Christians had better gird themselves for much persecution and a ‘long haul’.