Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday: Redemption Song

Good Friday — Here is a poem by Les Murray, which explores why Jesus died and how all his persecutors, friend and foe, could actually be redeemed:
Easter 1984

When we saw human dignity
Healing humans in the middle of the day

We moved in on him slowly

Under the incalculable gravity

of old freedom, of our old freedom

under atmospheres of consequence, of justice

under which no one needs to thank anyone

If this was God, we would get even.

And in the end we nailed him,

lashed, spittled, stretched him limb from limb.

We would settle with dignity

for the anguish it had caused us,

we’d send it to be abstract again,

we would set it free.


But we had raised up evolution

It would not stop being human.

Ever afterwards, the accumulation

of freedom would end in this man

whipped, bloodied, getting the treatment.

It would look like man himself was getting it.

He was freeing us, painfully, from freedom,

justice, dignity — he was discharging them

of their deadly ambiguous deposit,

remaking out of them the primal day

in which he was free not to have borne it

and we were free not to have done it,

free never to torture man again,

free to believe him risen.
Good Friday is a day to address St Paul’s teasing question to the Galatians, “who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Christ was publicly portrayed as cricified?” to ourselves, and dedicated followers of some contemporary fashions:
  1. Sincere attraction to Pharisaism (as in Galatia)

  2. Excluding Jesus from the public square (even though he started out there)

  3. The auld liberal Protestant habit of severing a lovable mop-haired Jesus (of History) from the Pauline Christ (of faith)

  4. The notion that human dignity, rights and equality are somehow, in themselves, a threat to the real Jesus Christ

  5. The folly that Christianity is a religion, rather than a process of personal and social renewal.

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