A lot of rich Christians are celebrating the forgiveness of their sins this weekend.
As they do so, they are eating a lot of chocolate (most likely produced by child-slaves), and tweeting a lot of images on personal devices (also made by child-slaves), in homes built on land that was stolen from the original caretakers — who were either slaughtered, enslaved, starved to death, or shipped off to reservations. All this celebrating is done while paying taxes that, amongst other things, help to maintain Canadian soldiers occupying places like Haiti (where we helped train and support death squads), Iraq (so much for bombing the hell out of Afghanistan for years in order to try and support the USofA while staying out of the Iraq war), Congo (echoes of Rwanda there), and several other places — not to mention “routine domestic surveillance.”
Of course, a good many well-to-do Canadians who are not Christians also participated in all of these things this weekend (and I did, too), but at least they’re not going around thanking God that they are forgiven for, well, everything. Because, as offensive as all of this is, it’s doubly offensive to live it all loudly proclaiming the sweet relief of forgiveness.
How does one even begin to respond to this kind of thing? It seems to me that those who adopt this ideology are beyond reach and beyond hope.
However, I will say this about Easter and its origins:
Jesus of Nazareth was a person born out of wedlock to a teen mother. His mother was from a region that had recently experienced a scorched earth campaign performed by the military of an imperial power who had colonized her land — and possibly her body. Because Jesus’ father was either a migrant labourer (that would be Joseph, who had to return home for the census but was likely away from home in order to try and find work) or a Roman soldier (the Roman troops, much like Canadian troops, had sexually assaulted many of the women in the regions they passed through, and so it is no coincidence that people later tried to discredit the Jesus movement by arguing that a soldier named Pantera was actually Jesus’ father) or God (if you think that rabble-rousers are conceived the same way as the Emperors whom they resist).
This Jesus then went on to become a central part of a renewal movement that turned its back upon the imperial order of society and the compromises of the Indigeneous leaders who had sold out their own people (like many Indian Act Chiefs) for personal profit and power. Instead, this movement began to formulate different ways of sharing life together that counteracted oppressive socioeconomic and political structures. Not surprisingly, it ran smack into conflict with local leaders and then with the chief representatives, including the agent of the imperial overlord in Jerusalem. As a result, Jesus was justly condemned according to the Law and executed as a terrorist.
After that, at least two things happened: first, the movement itself continued to grow and spread despite (and in some important ways because of) the execution of Jesus. This movement continued to be revolutionary (and outright illegal) in a lot of ways but, and this is the second development, the movement very quickly became corrupted and, as it grew, co-opted by the values and priorities of people more comfortably situated within the status quo. Hence we go from Jesus to Christianity. Christianity which, in turn, goes from co-opting a movement rising up from amongst people experiencing oppression to becoming a religion that justifies the most extreme forms of violence, oppression, and genocide.
Christians have a formidable track record when it comes to crucifying others, when it comes to occupying stolen land, when it comes to engaging in Shock and Awe scorched earth campaigns, and when it comes to slaughtering, imprisoning, or disappearing those who stand against them — in other words, Christians today, like Christians yesterday, have a formidable track record reproducing situations like the one into which Jesus was born… and then crucifying people like Jesus when they inevitably rise up.
All this is done by those celebrating Easter — when those great crucifiers of others get together and weep and rejoice over the wounds of Jesus in order to feel #blessed and #forgiven and #loved by a God who sees all, knows all, but forgives only some (them). It’s maddening and saddening and I almost didn’t write this post at all (it all feels so tiresome at this point) but I felt the need to get some of these things off my chest.
(And, yeah, I know, I know, some Christians will respond by saying #notallChristians, just like some white people respond to #blacklivesmatter with #alllivesmatter and some men respond to criticisms of patriarchy and rape-culture with #notallmen… and other Christians will respond by saying “these are hard but important truths we need to hear and contemplate” before going on with life as usual… and I guess I’m kinda late with this reflection and it may have been better suited for Good Friday or Holy Saturday since everyone has already moved on to the feel-good triumphalism of Resurrection Sunday (how quickly people who are rich can move on to Resurrection Sunday — a good many people experiencing poverty and oppression never make it there, even if they make it into old age)… but, well, whatever.)