Mar 29 2013

What Good Friday doesn’t mean to me

There is nothing bad about having a day in our calendar called Good Friday. Friday happens to be my favourite day of the week. Today is a special day observed around the world, filled with symbolism and celebration. I will celebrate, too, but it has nothing to do with religious observance.

In today’s Globe and Mail, John Stackhouse Jr. writes about his take on Good Friday. Stackhouse ends his article with these words: “God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves, rescuing us from the doom caused by our own actions. For Christians, that’s good news. That’s Good Friday.”

This has me reflecting.

Christ by Rembrandt

I was born and raised in the Christian Protestant faith, though I would not say we had a religious household. I went to church, sometimes, and attended Sunday School, sometimes. Always in the midst of the sermons and church with its spectacular stained glass windows, somewhere deep inside me I questioned the stories I was hearing. As a child, I did not understand that what I was hearing was mythology. I did not yet have the consciousness to know the difference between fantasia and reality. Yet, my inner compass always seemed off centre.

For instance, I continually asked myself how can a dead man come back alive? I had seen many images of Jesus being resurrected, but at a deep level I didn’t buy into the story. Just like I didn’t buy into the story about a boat that held many animals that marched onto it two-by-two. These stories kept me questioning about the truth.

I am obviously not an academic or scholar. Nor do I, as an adult, subscribe to any religion. What I am is curious. What I have been doing for the past few years (in my spare time) is my research, which points to this: organized religions disempower people. True religiosity should never disempower. While it is true that organized religions give us community for us to deal with death, birth and other major life milestones that humans experience and require support of another, how beneficial can it be if it keeps us “small, contained and shackled?” I find no comfort in mythologies, as much as I love to learn about and study them. More than anything, I am perplexed by the gazillions of people around the world who blindly buy into the fantasia without asking the simplest of questions.

So while I came into the world as a Christian purely by default, as a grown woman who makes her own way in life, I “question.” I look for my answers in nature and in science.

Going back to Stackhouse’s comments, if Christians are looking to God as any kind of savior rescuing us from our own actions, then we, by default, disempower ourselves with this kind of thinking.

And so, today I will celebrate Good Friday in a way that has personal meaning to me. How will you celebrate?

Photo credit: Christ by Rembrandt (1661). I include this here because I recently had the privilege of  viewing it in person and admire it for its depth and mastery.

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