Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Easter Means to Me

President Obama made this bizarre comment at the Easter prayer breakfast the other day, “…during this season we are reminded that there's something about the Resurrection, something about the Resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective.”

Spoken like a true believer.

My regular readers, all five of you, know that I’m a Christian. While I don’t harp upon that fact, it’s the foundation of my political beliefs. I call myself a Christian. Whether or not The Big Guy agrees, well, I’ll just do my best and hope that He does. As Ann Barnhardt said,  "I reckon He looks at me and just shakes His head."
My spiritual journey started around the age of ten. Mom never attended church, which was rather unusual in Alabama, being as it’s the buckle of the Bible Belt. One of my classmates invited me to his church. During Sunday school, we were assigned passages to read for the next week’s discussion. A curious thing happened: I started to notice that what I gleaned from our reading assignments was not the same thing that our teacher spoke about in class. Every week, I’d dutifully read the verses, and without fail, our teacher would discuss the same verse, but in a totally different way than I interpreted it.

Not only did this happen in Sunday school, when we attended regular service and the preacher gave his sermon, the same thing happened. He’d speak about a particular verse and get something else entirely from it than I did.

Being the stubborn little bastard that I was, I figured out that organized religion was not where I was going to find the answers about God that I was looking for. I thanked my friend for taking me to church, and set about on a personal quest to try to understand this religion thingy.

There seemed to be something inside of me that pointed me in my own direction.

Whatever it is, I’m glad it’s there.

It can get lonely traveling by yourself. My great-grandfather was one of five brothers who were all preachers. As a result, many of their progeny, my cousins, were also called to preach. It didn’t take too many family reunions before I was considered the black sheep of the gathering. I drank, I smoked, and I played music in bars, hardly their vision of a fine, upright Christian.

At one reunion, one of my preacher cousins engaged me in a conversation. He attempted to show me the error of my ways. I didn’t begrudge his effort; he sincerely was trying to help me. It wasn’t as if I’d ever had any run-ins with the law or was in any kind of trouble. He just wanted me to “join the crowd.” I politely declined.

I never heard from him again.

By that time, I’d met far too many hypocrites. People who loudly and proudly proclaimed their Christianity, attended church every Sunday, and were the meanest, most spiteful and despicable people who would gladly stab you in the back at the first opportunity. I was not going to associate with them or be identified with them in any way. Hence my silence.

After many years of searching, reading, and much trial and error, I’m at a point where I can speak with a bit of authority. As you know, I’ve called out some prominent “religious” figures in America today as false Christians: Jesse Jackson, Father Pfleger, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, the idiots at Westbrook Baptist Church (the military funeral protesters), none of them are true Christians. They are more like anti-Christians, the wolves in sheep’s clothing we were warned about. As such, they give the public the wrong impression of Christianity, like it hasn’t had an image problem since its very beginning.

This is a great disservice to the rest of us who are also searching for God. The uninitiated look at them and dismiss the whole religion outright instead of rejecting someone who deserves to be rejected. If there is anything I can do with this forum to point out blatant hypocrisy and dishonesty, I’ll do it, especially if someone claims to be religious.

And don't get me started on Islam, the polar opposite of Christianity.

But I digress.

Easter, to me, is the most sacred of Christian holidays. In a scant three days, all of Christianity is displayed on a grand stage. Persecution, betrayal, hypocrisy, forgiveness, love, death and mourning, followed by the Miracle of Christ’s Resurrection construct the Passion Play in a condensation of One Life.

Of particular note is the victory of eternal spiritual life over earthly death. Jesus’ reappearance to his friends in spiritual form is the lesson of Easter: this life isn’t all there is to life. What is hidden from you is hidden for a purpose. You’re supposed to question this life and all its shallowness, and listen to that little something inside of you that tells you there is something missing here, and then find out what that something is. You’re meant to discover the joy of the truth that sets you free.

That “something” is a spiritual union with your Creator. This takes the form of an inner knowing, an intuition (it’s not just for women anymore), whatever it is that tells you when something isn’t quite right. Kind of like a Vulcan mind meld, if you’ll pardon the analogy.

Mental stillness helps a lot. Learn how to meditate, to calm your mind and gain a measure of self-control. Cling to what you know is right within your heart.

Rediscover this ancient saying, “Your thoughts are not your own.” That’s not you doing the thinking. If it was, then you could change your thoughts.

Understand that sin isn’t a specific act, it’s the state of being spiritually separated from God. It’s how you were born. Observe what happens in a garden: seeds grow to maturity. In the Garden of Eden, your intellect grows to maturity in preparation for the Eternal Life you are meant to live.

Jesus left us with only two instructions: to love God and seek him within ourselves, and also to love your fellow man. Use the Golden Rule whenever and wherever you can. And if you manage to screw it up and become angry with someone, let your conscience be your guide so that the next time, you’ll succeed. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

It really is that simple. Just believe.

So this Easter, be glad. Open your heart and mind to the possibility of eternal life in a spiritual form. Your soul cannot die. It’s the part of you that animates your body. Your mind can be part of God, and receive Instruction from Him on how to live a better and more fulfilling life while you’re here. It’s the Light that guides you along the path of this life.

It's not unpossible that we're in the End Times. I know that's been said before, but how many things that you see in the news today cause you to think, "I've never seen that before." Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil, just might be televised. It could very well be time to make a decision as if your life depended on it.

If you’ve found what you seek in a traditional church, I applaud you. I, however, just couldn’t find it there. Wherever and however you find it, seek it with all that is within you. Ultimately, it’s between you and God anyway.

That’s why you’re here.

To all of you, have a Joyous and Happy Easter.

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