The Everlasting Comic



I hate Easter. The actual Sunday. Finding only a corner of the church, because the fire marshal had the day off and this was all that was left. The actual sermons that never added much, yet all these people here, stealing my pew.

Hey! I love what Easter meant to the Irish. It was about union. Finally. A nation once again. Still falling a bit short. But it was a new start.

The problem with Easter is that we are all gonna. Die. That was why all these people stealing my pew were here. Die. No matter what.

A people set apart. Looking for union. In my case in the United States. Looking for union. Looking for the answer to God’ s question, “What did you plan to do? After the sex, after life, and after death?”

All these people here, stealing my pew. The broken families. From divorce. In church. Churches broken. Divorced Christianity.

Trying to learn of the theme of union. Learning how to pray. All over again. What we had done. What we had failed to do.

We were scared as hell of death. Watching people dealing with the fact. Dealing with the mortality of loved ones. Then dealing with their own mortality. And then the people you don’t know. Seeing the issues. Meeting God, and the world asking, “Could you come back another time?” Looking for meaning, but in a wait-and-see mode. And now, on Good Friday, a fitting ending to God’s disappointment in relationship, when not even the Messiah survived all of this.

The relationship thing. God and His indifference to suffering. One long never ending sequel of failure.

Writers on Writing was written and was published by Bread Loaf Anthology in 1991. A chapter in this book called “Reading” was written by Richard Ford. Ford begins by stating that as he prepared to teach English in college, he really had to teach and explain to his students how to read carefully. Ford’s problem was teaching to young people who demanded relevancy in everything about presented characters in stories, character, and point of view. Students answering the character questions: How did he affect you? Did you love him? What was he after? Did he change much during the time that you knew him? What most impressed you about him?

This had been the week of Holy Week, where students still have to answer the character questions, the questions of relevancy: Why is this year different? To the point in time on a Friday, asking in a new way, “Why are you doing this?” I have never heard a preacher dare say, in the way of point of view, to the main character, “Father, how could this Messiah be crucified?”

The Passion story. God losing His anonymity with the life of Jesus. Jesus, made in the image of God, had this inherent human urge to leave something behind, in the evolutionary process of perfection: “Do this in memory of me.”

On Friday, it looked like it was over for good. The last clear chance. The Messiah. He came. He went. He died like all of us. So what was the big deal? He was human.

Those with deeply personal relationships with Jesus of Nazareth were obviously in shock over all that had happened so fast in 24 hours. It was September 11th, one thousand nine hundred sixty-eight years earlier, with all the fear thereafter. With blood and guts, and wrongful detention. If you had been schooled in the Old Covenant, tutored by this Master, the question had to be, “So would there be vengeance?”

Whose fault was this? This crucifixion. We never asked for THIS. So in the case of relationships, it was all the Creator’s fault? Everyone is mad at the Father? Well it can’t be His fault. That is the point of view of too many preachers. So they go looking for scapegoats. That same point of view leads to anti-Semitism. The lack of understanding. An anger. If Jesus died for me, then the Crucifixion is my fault? It sounds like an idea that was fostered by self-made men who thought they were worthy of all their riches. All those preachers looking for vengeance? Preachers, who never listened to Bogart’s last speech in Casablanca. Lives with sins that did not amount to a hill of beans. When the state and the religious authority had combined in this crucifixion. It wasn’t the Jews who crucified Jesus, a Jew himself. It was the ROMANS. The same guys who have mostly been running the Latin Church, my church, for the last 1977 years.

All those preachers who just never wanted to read the first half of the Good Book. The story of the Passion, the theme of a new covenant, seemed to be a renewal of the Old Covenant. A relationship that never really had changed, from the time of Abraham. It was just more inclusive. When Abraham took Isaac up to be sacrificed. It was a crazy idea. Trying to learn how to pray. And afterward, looking for a scapegoat to sacrifice. Too many preachers whose concept of prayer, of covenants, of relationships, never really had evolved. Had never evolved, with this concern over the Crucifixion of the Messiah and not with the meaning of his life. Well, the Crucifixion was not my fault. Except for the world I was born into. And the world Jesus had been born into. The wickedness. The shame over being chosen? So there must have been a lesson in the life itself of the Messiah. In Salvation History. To personal sacrifice?

Afterward. As if the covenant had changed. “God, how did you let this happen?” Listen to what it was that the evangelist recorded. And then all those preachers still talking about “Jesus died for me.” The story seems a bit bigger than that. It was all about personal sacrifice. Jack Miles wrote a sequel to God: A Biography. Miles never quite asks the same point of view questions in Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, as he did in his Pulitzer Prize winner. Most Christian preachers focus too much on the Messiah and not on the ongoing Life of God. And how Jesus changed from the beginning of the story until his departure. In his personal sacrifice.

Too many preachers who focus on the death of Jesus instead of his life. Too many preacher without a concept of prayer. It is as though Jesus is the main character in the story instead of the Father. In his personal sacrifice to the Father. So with a perspective of the the life of Jesus, from that moment of conception, with the perspective from Solomonn’s Temple, under Jewish divine law (Deuteronmy 22: 25), rape committed on a betrothed woman was punishable by death: warrants for the infliction of capital punishment, as opposed to private retribution or vengeance, are found in the Pentateuchal codes for the commission of any one of the following crimes. So God got Mary pregnant. And the punishment was capital punishment. I am sure that Mary and Joseph could understand the perspective. (“If a man finds the betrothed girl in the field, and the man overpowers her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die.”)

April. When the snow seemed to be uplifted to the sky, instead of falling down. Holy Week in Minnesota. Holy Week was the real Final 4. And Easter was the story of Opening Day. Of liberty. The real Emancipation Proclamation. Easter was about the meaning of human life. Of human souls. We all had one. Soul.

Your pain here? It had all been a joke. The Messiah who came to the earth. The suffering? Well, he has risen. All of those who died are gonna rise again. This love that you had with other people, and this invisible relationship with God? Well, it never was gonna end. Life was all about a search for union with God. With God. Through each others.

“Build His church and deck His shrine,
Empty though it be on earth;
Ye have kept your choicest wine,
Let it flow for heavenly mirth;
Pluck the harp and breathe the horn.
Know ye not ’tis Easter morn?”

-Gerald Manley Hopkins

God, the Everlasting Comedian. The point of view which all along was invisible. As if the Creator did not know what he was doing. A good writer never could write a great story without knowing his/her own ending before hand.

The best comedians were the Jews and the Irish. Christ had risen. A Nation Once Again! Union! With God and the ones he loved. And all those people who got the message who filled the churches, in my pew ….well, they are gonna go invisible again. Starting tomorrow. Until Christmas. They appeared when God did. On Christmas. And on Easter. Was there a problem with Easter, or any of this?

Everyone was a comic. !


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1 comment so far

  1. paperlessworld on

    The closer you are, the less objective you will be. And so both the pleasure and the pain in the story of life and death.

    “And to man He said, ‘Because you listened to your wife, and you ate from the tree from which I commanded you saying, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed be the ground for your sake; with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life.’”

    The perverse sense of humor in the story with the curse of the serpent to eat dust, after man had come from dust.

    “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

    And so another commandment: To “cleave to.” Because in this new commandment, in a narration of what was going on in the story of Adam and Eve, is there a change in the point of view from this command given only to Adam “to cleave to”? What is the interpretation, when to “cleave to” is “to adhere closely; to stick; to cling.” Though “cleave” has another very different meaning, meaning “to split or separate something, especially along a natural line of separation.” So as a consequence of Adam listening to his wife, a man is to leave his father and his mother to cleave to his wife? An exactly how is a cave man going to bond to a wife?

    So once again, in a command to Adam – especially after the mysterious and somehow moving symbol in the garden of a tree that represents both the pleasure and the pain, I have come to think, from knowing things – to separate something, about God, along a natural line of separation. In the beginning, there was now shame. And the size of the problem had come from missing all the love that God had for the world, in the ‘not knowing’ by Eve? And so this next commandment, through a payment of the penalty, about cleaving?

    Because Eve was above the one simple command — above the law — the author captures the story of beginning – until this rather abrupt sentence of a new command. Just as God did when he saw that the light was ‘good’, He separated light from darkness, and then proceeded to go on separating. And though it was never stated was the expulsion from the Garden also good?

    So finally, like man from dust, man from woman is described as an act of separation? When the first command was focused upon knowing God, this next command focused upon knowing Eve, beyond the power of imagination — in either bond, or in a kind of separation, in expiation.

    EXPIATION: From out of, to admit to and extinguish a guilt incurred, to put an end to guilt. Narrative tension is primarily about withholding information, and the author of the Book of Genesis with a poetic style, had left so much tension, if this was the original scroll.— So who left whom?

    Bond markets. The search for high yields and some form of clarity. And so education and the need for a wide perspective — and maybe that apple. In the bond market, no one seemed to ever care about the soft law approach in the event of a significant event that seems quite disruptive to bond markets. Like expulsion.

    Now about this fear of a woman with fertility, to be left only with your bag – to be left as a bag lady. After the perspective from Solomon’s Temple, under Jewish law, rape committed on a betrothed woman was punishable by death: Warrants for the infliction of capital punishment, as opposed to private retribution or vengeance, are found in the Pentateuchal codes for the commission of any one of the following crimes: (Deut. xxii. 25). In the the life of Jesus, from that moment of conception, God got the betrothed Mary pregnant. I am sure that Mary and Joseph could understand the perspective of punishment, as capital punishment. If you lived in those times.

    The real commandment was to “cleave to, and they shall become one flesh.” When Adam and Eve could not abide by just the first commandment, when first Eve, and then Adam was above the law. So would not their progeny always inherit the same sense, from knowing God – from a pride of just knowing God. Did you ever feel the contempt, at the time, between believers and their God? And in some way this story was about each side leaving the other.


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