Easter is two days away. It is my favorite holiday.
At least, that's what I would have said with ease six months, a year ago.
Now, I'm not so sure. I've distanced myself from the things of religion that, when I hear them or read them or taste them, shut me down faster than you can say "He is risen indeed."
The many problematic and conflicting Bible passages . . . being encouraged to believe in an abusive and terrifyingly mercurial version of god that is not very unlike the ancient pagan deities . . . people who tell me how bad I am, how bad we all are, "for my own good" . . . theology that completely denies the value of darkness . . . ideology that requires me to marginalize any minority group, or yield faithfully to abusive individuals and/or doctrines . . . all things absolute -- the briefest of encounters leaves me swallowing back a sudden, visceral nausea, my hair tangling from the breeze of my soul's walls of protection flying up. Danger, danger.
I am left wondering what Easter can mean to me when the Church that proclaims the paschal message has, in my opinion, gone so wrong at the core. Because the heart of the gospel is, in my understanding, love. From Duck Dynasty to the World Vision debacle to Chick-fil-a's protests, and so on and so on and so on, Christianity isn't coming off so well in the love department.
Which pains me to say, because I know so many Christians who are doing an amazing job at being love with skin on. Our local church family, the women running some of my favorite babyloss support organizations, the online community of doubters and deconstructors and "free-range Christians" that has refreshed my life blood -- there are still people getting it right.
But I still don't know what to do with Easter this year.
* * *
When it comes down to it, though, it's not the dysfunction and hatred and cruelty I see infesting and infecting the Church that drives me away (although it certainly is a huge turn-off, and something I will continue to address and, in doing so, hopefully help heal). It's the Bible itself, the fact that every time I turn those impossibly thing pages, I come away hurt and confused and sick-feeling. It's the fact that I begged God, begged Jesus to please fill the empty parts of me, and those parts remained devastatingly empty.
It's the [delicious] reality that I only began experiencing Jesus' promised "through and through" freedom after I stepped away from religion, only after I walked and then ran with abandon into the desert with its gray sands and harsh sun and endless sky.
It's the fact that I am experiencing deeper peace here in the borderlands, in the wild country, than I ever did inside the prescribed bounds of Christianity-dictated safety.
I used to wish I could find a happy home inside churchianity's expectations. That I could find peace being the dutiful evangelical so many wish I would be.
But I don't wish it any longer. Because I've found more of Jesus' gifts out here with the heathens and the homosexuals and the written-off wastelands than I ever unearthed when I faithfully peeled open my Bible's cover each morning, when I prayed the kinds of prayers I'd learned to utter, when I tried to mold my soul and my skin so I'd fit in on Sunday morning.
* * *
The Jesus I thought I knew is dead. My right answers died with him. I don't know if I'll ever see him again. The future is wide and uncertain.
This is Good Friday. This is the Good Friday experience. I have never lived it more truly.