Easter 1984Good 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:
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.
- Sincere attraction to Pharisaism (as in Galatia)
- Excluding Jesus from the public square (even though he started out there)
- The auld liberal Protestant habit of severing a lovable mop-haired Jesus (of History) from the Pauline Christ (of faith)
- The notion that human dignity, rights and equality are somehow, in themselves, a threat to the real Jesus Christ
- The folly that Christianity is a religion, rather than a process of personal and social renewal.