just as real as each other

i’m taking this week off… a couple of things before i head outside to make the most of this glorious sunshine… [still haven’t found my camera for photos from saturday night, although i confess to not really looking!]

i was absolutely delighted to open this morning’s paper to the page where they ‘wrap up’ Easter with a description of yesterday’s services, etc. The top of the page was headed ‘The meaning of Easter’ and the article immediately underneath it was about a former prisoner who is now trying to make his way in the world. The article asks when redemption will be possible for him. i was really moved that the journalist and papers’ editors had made this connection.

the writer from Friday’s article rang this morning to say that a lot of what he and i had talked about had been cut at the last minute from the article, and he wanted to apologise. unnecessary but lovely. the full version was in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

and finally… i had breakfast yesterday morning with some of my closest friends. they aren’t part of the church. we spent a couple of hours together doing easter egg hunts with the children… talking about the fear and delight of impending childbirth, the grief of infertility, the disappointment of family conflicts, the horror of mortgage payments… a couple of them had come into the space on Saturday night [they described it as very zen, which was a lovely compliment], and we talked about death and redemption in response to that… On the way home i passed a church which had a sign out the front advertising easter services with the headline ‘Come and hear the real Easter story’, and it struck me that when we say that, we say that the way people who aren’t Christians celebrate Easter – the meaning they find in celebrations with their friends and family – is false or fake. what an insult.

christians might tell another story of Easter to the rest of the world, but its point of connection with the world will be to honour the world’s story, and find the stuff that resonates between them, rather than setting the world’s story up to be false, and christians as holding the only truth.


  1. Hi Cheryl,
    I loved your article in the Age, it was surprising to see it a a front-page feature. I’m sure the ‘fundies’ did not take kindly to the uncertainty, and for that sake I’m so glad to see these thoughts out in the open as a refreshing change to the literal perspective. Thanks for the updated link to Barney Zwartz’s article, I love how it brings together the experiences and thoughts across the spectrum. Even the Sydney Anglicans want a piece of the pie, but of course on their own terms.

    Oh, and congratulations on a superb effort for the Easter installation. I know just how much time you and Nahum put in, the end result was superb.


  2. Blair

    Cheryl, I loved your article in The Age. 2,500 words! nice work.

    I feel differently about ‘the real story’ comment. I think the target of the bilboard is shallow engagement with the meaning of Easter as a remeberance, not the meaning people might find in their own family relationships. The former is specific, the later generic.

    The thing that shits me about ‘other’ [christian or non-christian] people’s take on Easter is when there’s complete avoidance of the reason for remembering the event of Easter. If all you reckon Easter is worth is commercial loads of chocolate and a state-sancitoned break from work, then isn’t that missing the point? If you’re someone who celebrates life – even new-life – at Easter, then perhaps there are some points of resonnance to work with. If you’re someone who chooses to get engaged with the story that undergirds the whole thing – the gospel story – then I reckon you’re at very least on your way to getting the ‘real’ story for this festival.

    Seems to me equivalent to suggesting there’s no ‘real’ story behind the ANZAC day remembrance. That you could chose to make it simply a day for peace, or a day to have an annual street barbie, without recognising why the day is remembered in the first place. Sure you could have a ‘real’ family gathering, and enjoy some ‘real’ time together, but have you had a ‘real’ ANZAC day celebration? Same with Easter – or Christmas for that matter, although imho the resonance of cultural and religious celebrations of Christ-mass are stronger than Easter ones.

    I was bummed out to miss the Easter installation. I look forward to seeing the contents of your camera once you can move from the couch again.

    =) Blair

  3. Cheryl

    i think i’m more trying to point out that setting one up as real and one as not real on a church sign isn’t actually that inviting to people who aren’t christian… that there has to be a better way to invite people to hear the story that christians hold on to. it’s a wording issue: being told that something you consider to be very real and very important isn’t, isn’t going to make you feel that warm towards the tellers. the christian church has a nasty modernist history of setting itself up as the ones who determine what’s true or not. even if you and i were to believe that’s a good thing, most of the world doesn’t. and i wonder whether these signs are simply perpetuating the perception that the world has of the church as ‘not getting’ the world.

    it’s the sign i’m arguing against, not the other stuff. that can wait for another day 🙂

    i resent it when christians of other persuasions try to force their reality onto me with their church signs. maybe it’s similar to that?

    thanks for your comments on the article. it was indeed very long… there were a number of very late nights involved…

  4. Cheryl

    and, of course, christians took over the original easter festival for its own purposes. i think, by rights, we have to share it with others… maybe we could look at the 4 day state sanctioned holiday [which really has been whittled away to 2, unless you’re an office worker] as our gift to the community…

  5. Hey, just wanted to say how inspiring this site is for me. I haven’t ever even been to one of your services, and yet they have touched me. And I’ve borrowed some of the ideas, and used them here in Wellington, and other people have been inspired and moved too. And the things you write, the questions you ask, challenge me, and I start to question myself, and to grow from there. So, thank you!

    Not to give you a big head or anything 😉

  6. Cheryl

    thanks Fionnaigh. my head still fits in my hat [i’ve been testing it this week in the sunshine] so i think it’s safe…

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