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“If you don’t believe in Easter,” Owen Meany said. “Don’t kid yourself—Don’t call yourself a Christian.”
John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
My friend Pete Rollins is an author and philosopher. Some say this scraggy character from Belfast is a heretic (a label Pete enjoys being thrown at him); others say he is no more than an iconoclastic showman who enjoys shocking evangelical audiences.
Pete had just returned from speaking at Calvin College, where his controversial remarks about the resurrection of Jesus were making quite a stir on the blogosphere. He described the scene to me over beers, just after returning home. Here’s how he relates the scene on his blog:
At one point in the proceedings someone asked if my theoretical position led me to denying the Resurrection of Christ. This question allowed me the opportunity to communicate clearly and concisely my thoughts on the subject, which I repeat here.
“Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think.
I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.
However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.”
Was Pete being elusive, or purposely throwing the question back on the audience member who perhaps had hoped he could finally reveal to all that Pete Rollins wasn’t a genuine member of the evangelical tribe?
I wasn’t there so I can’t impute wrong motives to either Pete or his questioner, but I know this: Pete’s answer was right. Our belief in the resurrection of Jesus is proved daily, not yearly. May our belief that Easter is “the main event,” go beyond the notional, beyond being a theological abstraction in the days ahead.
I’m falling further and further behind with where I should be right now. But when my whole body is protesting life, it’s hard to sit and do homework. It’s easy to sit with an ice pack on my chest, a heating pad on my back and a show on my computer. Saturday and Sunday hurt more than the recent days, oddly. I don’t think I did anything I wasn’t supposed to.
My independent spirit is being tested. I have to ask for rides to the grocery, then for my ride to carry my groceries. I had to ask my housemate to carry my laundry to and from the laundry room for me. And until I get a car, I have to ask for a ride if I care to go anywhere. Not that I’m doing much of that lately. Just being out and about campus wears me out.
Next week is Easter, and it occurred to me that I have nowhere to go. So I asked a fellow student who also has nowhere to go to have Easter dinner with me. We’re going to have ham, because that seems very Easter-ish (ironically). I’m glad she’ll join. Maybe we’ll watch a movie, too. We joked about watching The Passion. Although apropos, we’re not fans of violence. Is that a bad thing to say? I already have an overactive imagination. I don’t need the help. What are other good Jesus movies?
In other news, I miss my friends from home. I miss my church. I miss having a church and fellowship and people who know me and care about me. I’m going to try reverse psychology, and after I have a car again, I’m going to try out a church that I didn’t think I would like from the first I heard about it. I keep trying out churches I do think I’ll like, so maybe this is a good strategy. Or maybe it’s a terrible strategy. Time will tell.
And finally, I get to register for Fall classes on Wednesday. I’m super excited. I just need to decide if I should take Hebrew or not. It would be extra, just for fun, because it doesn’t fit in my program, sadly.