March 28, 2005

Bud Talkinghorn: The meaning of Good Friday -- & -- Anglicanism Redux

The meaning of Good Friday

A disclaimer up front: All thoughts flow from a once-upon-a-time Anglican. Even as a youth I saw the fatal flaws of dogma, even of belief itself. The wishy-washy Anglicanism my crowd adhered to was perfect for an easy walkabout. Even the historical roots of the religion were entangled in the messy sheets of a lusty king. Still, the sermons were sometimes finely honed essays on the need for goodness. As well, my minister was a hip guy, who had travelled from Cape Town to Cairo by landrover. In that primitive era, that must have been the trip of a lifetime. I continue to consider him as a travel guru, who instilled in me the wonders "out there". I used to visit him at his house for conversations about his time in Africa--long after I had stopped attending church. He even sponsored me for a job working in Hong Kong, but I was rejected higher up the ladder for being a backslider. That he tried to get me on the road, after I had spurned his faith, was a sign of innate goodness.

Through the years I have been witness to everything from Macumba to hard-shell Pentecostalism. Some like the Mormons, actually send me urban missionaries to sell their failed science fiction. Most of the mainstream churches have since one-upped the Anglicans' touchy-feely message. Of course, it wasn't like this during the days of muscular Christianity, when slaughtering and/or enslaving the heathens was de rigeur religious behaviour. Our ancestors somehow lost the central meaning of Christ's crucifixion. Christ didn't die in pitched battle, blow himself up in a rival's temple, or during a slave expedition. He supposedly died to save mankind from sin; not to use his sacrifice as an excuse to sin on a massive scale. Man, as is his wont, perverted his words and actions to further advance their political or economic gains. One has only to look at the religious revanchism of fundamentalist Islam to see where we ascended from. Even the early slave trade was underpinned with Christian rationales--"We are bringing the heathen 'savage' to the glories of God." Well, if you really think whipping them into Christianity, before working them to death, is a benevolent thing, then what can one say?

In the end, I see that Good Friday induces powerful emotions in believers. Mel Gibson's film on this death was expected to bomb at the theatre, but, to the shock of cynical Hollywood folk, it was enormously successful. It hit a chord in a society that has come to worship Mammon to an unhealthy degree. Maybe, at its best, Good Friday resurrects a deeper sense of life, death, and sacrifice. If nothing else, the sense of our own frail mortality. That I am even writing on this topic is some proof of those enduring themes.

© Bud Talkinghorn

Anglicanism redux

It is interesting to see the wondrous directions my old faith has taken. Now you have an imminent schism occurring. The hardcore Africans are a belong-to-the-Book type, while the mush-mouthed Western branch wants to bury the Book under metaphors. There are only so many ways that you can turn Mary Magdalen into a conniving Vancouver crack wh***. Redemption doesn't have the cachet it previously held. Not robbing the parishoners didn't count as being in a state of grace in the old days. I am waiting for the Anglicans to embrace the current fad, charismatic rapture sessions. Handing out ecstasy as the sacrament should get the meetings rolling. Oh, if Jesus had just been this hip, think of his flock today.

© Bud Talkinghorn


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