Reforming the Easter Celebration

Although Easter is the pinnacle of the Church Year, it has never quite seemed that way to me and I think that the way it is celebrated is part of the reason why. Growing up, Christmas certainly outshone Easter as a time of excitement and wonder. Presents of course had much to do with that, as well as the impressions associated with a typical Easter. I think John Updike captures some of it in his story, Short Easter:

But, generally, the festivity that should attend the day had fallen rather flat: quarrelsome and embarrassed family church attendances, with nobody quite comfortable in pristine Easter clothes; melancholy egg hunts in some muddy back yard, the smallest child confused and victimized; headachy brunches where the champagne punch tasted sour and conversation lagged.

I associate Easter with uncomfortable clothes, the colors purple, pink, mauve and yellow, the house being too warm due to ham cooking, having to sit down to an excessively formal dinner of ham, and getting the feeling of quasi-nausea that comes from eating far too much sugar in one day. Sugary mints, sugary Peeps, sugary everything. The weather is too hot for your new suit and pollen is everywhere. The preacher trying too hard to make the old story new. Things of that nature are what come to mind.

In contrast, it seems like Easter should be a military celebration, a Roman Triumph, a victory parade. Torches burning, bands blaring, pigs roasting on a spit. The God-Man has destroyed our last enemy, death, and has utterly triumphed over every foe. I don’t know quite what is should look like, but I do like what Rober Louis Wilken wrote in First Things:

If Christ is culture, let the sidewalks be lit with fire on Easter Eve, let traffic stop for a column of Christians waving palm branches on a spring morning, let streets be blocked off as the faithful gather for a Corpus Christi procession. Then will others know that there is another city in their midst, another commonwealth, one that has its face, like the face of angels, turned toward the face of God.

As one small token towards this end, I have started grilling steak on Easter rather than cooking a ham. I am open to ribs and other meats as well. I wish I could conceive of an outright feast, a party of some sort, and maybe I will get there someday, but for now, this small rebellion against Easter orthodoxy is all I can manage. If we could re-enchant Easter, we might be able to truly surpass the Christmas spirit in the Spring with a grand holiday feast.

Contemporary Authors

C.S. Lewis was not a fan, witness:

Incidentally, what is the point of keeping in touch with the contemporary scene? Why should one read authors one doesn’t like because they happen to be alive at the same time as oneself? One might as well read everyone who had the same job or the same coloured hair, or the same income, or the same chest measurements, as far as I can see.

Calvin’s Calendar

In answer to the question,”How did Calvin spend his days?” one could easily conclude that they were full from early morning long into the night. As the leading pastor in Geneva he had the chief responsibility for the church’s life and organization, but he was also actively engaged in pastoral work. His time was not spent sitting in an office and planning, nor was it devoted to numerous committee assignments. Rather he busied himself with preparation for preaching and teaching, meeting with couples to be married, counseling parents whose children were to be baptized, visiting those who were sick or in some kind of trouble. On the Lord’s Day there was a 6 A.M. service in the summer (7 A.M. in winter), catechism for children at midday, with another sermon at 3 P.M. Most weekdays there was a sermon as well, not to mention the preparation for that message and others to come. He preached steadily through book after book of the Bible. On Sunday mornings the text was from the New Testament, whereas on Sunday afternoons it was often from the Psalms. During the week the text was always from the Old Testament. He expounded books of the Bible, a passage at a time, day after day, until he completed the exposition. This meant that he was forced to deal with the scriptural range of ideas (Parker 1954:82-83).

John Calvin as Pastor John K. Baumann

 

[This is a repost from my ancient blog]

Libyan Observations

[1] The President did not follow the Constitution in declaring this war.

[2] Libya posed no threat to the United States.

[3] The internal affairs of Libya are for the Libyan people or possibly her immediate neighbors to decide.

[4] Where are the massive antiwar demonstrations and the breathless coverage of them from our media? Oh wait, this war was launched by a liberal, so therefore it is okay. The only wars that need to be fought are those launched by Republicans, so as to kneecap them and bring them down. Don’t get me wrong, Iraq was also worth opposing, but all that vehemence is gone when Clinton bombs Kosovo or Obama bombs Libya.

[5] Both parties are united in our horrible foreign policy. We need a consistently non-interventionist option out there. Right now, the Ron Paul wing is probably the best thing going on that front, but it needs to widen greatly. Unfortunately, I don’t believe this will happen due to the strength of the military-industrial complex. The only thing that will stop our insanity is the collapse of our nation, similar to what the British experienced at Suez. I think that day of reckoning is not far off.

Home Prices

As the chart shows, even with the collapse we have experienced since 2005, we are still at levels that look outrageously high given a normal progression. If we were to return to something like 2001-2002 prices, we would still have a LONG way down to go. The early 2000’s bubble corresponds almost exactly with the low rates from the Fed that were in place to combat the dot com collapse and the Enron scandal.

Add to our still-inflated prices a falling birth rate, retiring baby boomers and people with one kid or less who don’t exactly need 4,000 square feet and massive kitchens because they never eat at home and I think that we will see malaise in housing for at least another decade.