DEATH, WHERE IS THY DEFEAT ?
The folks who were waiting for the Messiah in Judea over 2000 years ago had been waiting for centuries and they did not have a good time. The Egyptian, the philistines, the Assyrians, and finally the Roman rule that was not gentle. They faced oppression and violence; they were exploited and yearned for justice and liberation. As Christ died on the cross, the shock and grief for his followers was terrible. Their expectations were betrayed, their world crushed, their love lost. When he resurrected three days later – because he did, messieurs les agnostiques – the relief was proportionally indescribable. Yes the world would change. It had not been in vain.
“Death, where is thy victory?” became a triumphant Christian question. But the question remained: what changed? They had waited for so long; what did they get?
Life after him did not change that much. Violence kept the upper hand. The Romans were still at it. Titus destroyed the temple of Jerusalem in 70AD and got for it a triumph parade in Rome.
Mankind was left with a mystery. People are not supposed to come back from the dead .Who was Jesus of Nazareth, what was the purpose of his visit, what was his meaning? Three years of public teaching to analphabet fishermen do not reveal much.
He spoke about love, truth, peace. Some people who called themselves Christian tried to change themselves and their lifestyle. Many people who called themselves Christian tried to change the world instead.
To do that Christians needed power. Better in Caesar’s palace than in the catacombs where the first followers of Jesus were hiding from Nero. And so it is that Christianity, with Constantine, took over Rome’s empire. Constantine killed members of his family to keep power. The worm was in the fruit and violence the means to spread the message of the peace maker. And so it is that Godefroy de Bouillon in the name of Jesus took Jerusalem in 1099AD and massacred the population.
They were convinced that killing Saracens was the victory of Christ in the same way others thought more recently that the falling towers on 9/11 were the victory of the prophet.
More of the same isn’t it? The Christians never stopped since then. Charlton Heston plays Ben Hur and the chairman of the National Rifle Association. Christ, where is thy victory? We are told he came to change us, to change the world. What did we do? How did we respond?
We got a clergy of administrators that came not to serve but to command. Pomp and circumstances, here comes the Vatican. We got militants who loved him so much that they could rightfully hate everybody else. Here come the fundamentalists. Two temptations swept away his inheritance, the repeated temptations of all emerging religions. He vanished without making any noises, no traces left; no mail box.
Those who fear the clash of Islam and Christianity should relax. There is not Christianity left to clash with in the lands of the West. Seeking freedom from what is natural the ex-Christians have left Christ for Freud.
Today they howl their liberation on all TV channels. And love? The world is on the move: transsexual surgery replaces transcendence. This was the one big intuition that propelled the first Matrix to blockbuster status: it’s a virtual world out there, the entire thing.
In the end, what claims the wasteland is just the brute of materialism that Victor Hugo had denounced. Post modernism isn’t post materialism, just pouring the same wine in new glasses, with perhaps more spices: Violence and license. License and violence. In between we splash vulgarity as one of the beaux arts.
Christ, where is our victory? Is there a misunderstanding somewhere? What is the meaning of Jesus? Pontius Pilatus thought he had sorted it out.
Stay tuned. According to the Bible the story is not finished. The Second Coming fills the pages of the New Testament as the Day of Judgment fills the pages of the Koran. So what about the day of reckoning?
Frankly speaking, no one really cares. But this is precisely how it was described that it would be.
It is not yet over.