An Alternative Easter

Abraham embraces his son Isaac after receiving...
"What the **** was that about, Lord?"

Eggs and rabbits, sex and death. Easter is weird. But then, the whole of Christianity has an odd feel to it. It’s the kind of eccentricity you only get when very different cultures meet and blend. A sort of… theological jazz. Greeks give the Jews the idea of the half-human demigod, Jews give the Greeks the idea of monotheism: Result, a god who is his own son. Which is pretty original, you must admit.

Another reason it’s strange is that it has such a satisfactory narrative. I mean, by mythological standards. It’s got structure, a beginning and an ending. A twist even. Like Judaism and Islam it really begins with Abraham, whom God told to sacrifice his son before relenting at the last moment. Weird in itself, but apparently just the stuff to start major religions rolling; keeps the audience off-balance I suppose.

But Christianity culminates with a dramatic reversal of this. Where before he’d demanded a son, now God sacrifices his to us. Yet instead of saying “Ha, had you going there!” at the very last opportunity, the humans just go right ahead and kill him. It’s the greatest of all surprise endings – the cavalry doesn’t make it. Humanity completely blows their one chance to return the favour God showed Abraham. It’s pretty shocking really. I’m imagining God the Father watching this unfold and shouting “Hey. Hey hold on there, I thought we had a deal.”

Wouldn’t that have been a better ending? A last-minute intervention by a stranger in the crowd. Christ is released. Everyone feels embarrassed and wanders away. The mysterious figure looks up into the sky and says, “OK, square now?” From then on, humanity and supernatural beings leave each other the hell alone.

I’m building the time machine as we speak.

3 replies on “An Alternative Easter”

I like to think our murder of Jesus was humanity’s way of saying “Thanks, but no thanks” or perhaps “Too little, too late.”

It’d take waaaay more than one dude to make up for the sacrifice *that* guy demanded of us.

Yet instead of saying “Ha, had you going there!” at the very last opportunity, the humans just go right ahead and kill him.

If I understood it correctly, this was the whole point though. Just like Buffy at the end of the first season, in order for the whole story to end well, it was a necessary death.

Because in this view, suppose the Romans had a change of heart, and decided to give Jesus community service instead of death by crucifixion. We’d still not be washed of our original sin.

Which means the descendants of that alternate history transposed to our timeframe would still be prohibited from eating shellfish, (i.e. Every Christian in the alternate history would “still” be Jewish).

Yes I know. But let’s be honest here, does that not sound exactly like the convoluted and far-fetched rationalisation Christians came up with when they realised just how depressing the more obvious symbolism was?

As to your second point, I don’t see how it follows logically. The fact that Christians don’t eat shellfish is to do with the further synthesis of Jewish and Greek tradition promoted by Paul of Tarsus. Basically, no one was going for this unless there was calamari. If we lived in an alternative universe where Christ wasn’t killed, I doubt that Christianity would have become a major religion. A God who lived to a ripe old age and died of natural causes just lacks mythic power. So I think the most likely outcome is that the populations that are Christian today would still be polytheistic. Shame really; think how many holidays we’d have.

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