Happy Easter, One and All!

Friday, my wife asked me what Good Friday was all about. She often asks me about the machinations of organized religion, despite the fact that although I was born a Lutheran, I was raised a Unitarian. Therefore I know little of all of the details behind religious holidays. I respect those who endeavor to celebrate these holidays in the fashion they were meant to be celebrated; Good Friday = solemn, Easter = happy, Passover = happy, etc.

So I'm sitting in the car outside of Mozzicato's Pastry Shop at 2:30 in the afternoon on Good Friday and I told my wife that "Good Friday is when Catholics remember that Jesus Christ was put on the cross to die."

"What's so good about that?"

"I haven't the slightest idea. But what you must remember, dear, is that the Catholics, and all Christians, believe that Jesus died for our sins. So of course the day Jesus died is, er, kinda important to those people." Then I went on to tell her that we better get our asses into Mozzicato's before it's 3:00.

"What happens at 3:00? Do they close early."

"Oh, no. All the good Catholics, especially the ones here in Little Italy, in St. Andrew's parish, had to stay home, inside, from 12:00 noon until 3:00. It's a time they spend in quiet contemplation of Jesus and their religion and things like that. That happens on Good Friday. But if we don't get inside to pick up the cakes for this weekend, we're gonna become inundated with Italian Catholics lining up for their treats for Easter dinner."

Our banter continued; the part I remember best is when she asked me if the folks who run Mozzicato's are Catholic.

"Yes, I believe they are."

"Then why are they working, instead of staying inside from 12:00 to 3:00."

I made a snide remark about their ability to go to confession either that night or Saturday to get another hole punched in their ticket to Heaven. She knew that talking about Catholics is not my favorite subject. Some of the most evil people I've known called themselves Catholic, and I've told her so. Also, I know and count among my friends plenty of Catholics. I guess my problem is with a religion that's so strict you can get thrown out of the church for getting a divorce; yet so forgiving that my pal Chris can beat the crap outta someone who owes him money, but all's forgiven if he goes to confession and follows the priest's instructions.

Sure enough, our car was nearly surrounded at 3:10, when we emerged, after finishing the day's lesson in "religions other than ours. Then, we were waiting on line with about 30 pious Catholics (many of whom resembled Estelle Getty, only with bad hair and dressed in black) and my wife asked, in a voice loud enough to be heard by about ten of them, "So why's Easter so happy?"

"Well, Jesus's followers went into the crypt where Jesus was supposed to be laid out and lo and behold, they couldn't find his body. He had ascended to Heaven, to be beside God, his father, and for ever more be the savior of humankind. Oh, and honey, 'ascended' is kinda like flying up into the sky."

"Hmm. Now I get it. We put oranges and other foods out in front of Buddha, especially on the holidays, so the Easter eggs are what the Catholics give to Jesus, right?" This garnered more than a few stares from our companions on line.

I gathered up all the courage I could and said "Well, the egg thing is more like a symbol for rebirth; Jesus was re-born in Heaven. Before the Catholics, the pagans also celebrated fertility around springtime by using eggs. But I don't think they had coloring for the eggs. In fact, I'm not sure what they did with them. But eggs in springtime aren't just for Catholics."

An elderly woman nearby gave me an Evil Eye that I thought would send me plummeting to Hell that moment, and put a curse on all my relatives for the next thousand years. When the woman with her, ostensibly her daughter, saw this, and saw my look of complete and utter embarrassment at the whole situation, she pulled me aside and said gently to us, "You're not Christians, are you?"

My wife chirped up "we're Buddhists!"

At that moment, in that place, I felt as if she'd uttered the words "we're filthy pagans who worship idols, work on the Sabbath, speak a foreign tongue and write in funky symbols, and gamble a lot."

Now, this story would have a really happy, Hollywood ending if the nice lady next to us said something like, "Well, it is my sincere hope that some day you find Jesus, but I'm sure that Jesus loves us all and that you'll be okay. And by the way, happy Easter."

That didn't happen.

The woman merely said, "My mother takes her religion very seriously. I do believe she found your words about Easter eggs rather unsettling. But then, we all have the right to say and believe what we want. After all, this is America. But you're going to go to Hell because you've not accepted Jesus Christ as your savior."

So that's my "Easter greeting to end all Easter greetings." "You're gonna go to hell. Have a happy Easter."

Or: Why I Love Sci-Fi Culture.

So I decided, because the end of Season 3 was so fucking cool, that over the (my) weekend I was gonna watch as much of the new Battlestar Galactica, front to back, as I could. I need to reset.

I'm watching the miniseries, and just before Roslin is introduced in her doctor's office, the camera moves down from a shot of the glass ceiling of the room, through which you can see spaceships flying low over the city - transports, passenger ships, the whole deal.

...and one of those ships, briefly but clearly visible before passing behind a building, is Serenity.

Christ has died Christ has risen Christ will come again. I'm Buddhist. But these are the words that I said to my atheist father yesterday. Happy Easter. Whatever that means.

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