Subversive spirituality


Easter is a difficult topic. Easter Day is so big, so mystical and, to some, so incomprehensible. Good Friday, on the other hand is so raw, so degrading and brutal that many prefer to ignore it altogether. In doing that they miss out on some interesting lessons for the power of play and Power Play.

Jesus dies because he is caught in a power play between the Roman authorities and the Jewish secular and religious authorities. He enters Jersusalem on the Sunday as a hero and he obviously has an underground network taking care of his needs and those of his disciples (see Luke 22. 10″He said to them, Behold, when you have gone into the city, a man carrying an earthen jug or pitcher of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, 11And say to the master of the house, The Teacher asks you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?    12And he will show you a large room upstairs..” – men never carried pitchers of water only women did that work). He is cast in the role of revolutionary and as such is threatening to the religious hegemony and the social order of the Sanhedrin. When he is betrayed in the Garden of Gethsamene his followers are clearly ready to defend him with force.

Yet his response to the force, to the situation, is not to defend himself, not to take advantage of the revolutionary tensions in Jersusalem around his presence but to completely submit to whatever Judas and his betrayal have dealt out. Pilate, the Roman authority figure, clearly states that he can find nothing wrong with him, he is obviously innocent in law, he could therefore get away if he had been prepared to defend himself, but he doesn’t. So how can we deal with this apparently senseless action by Jesus? Unless it is viewed in the context of spirituality then it is not apparently senseless, it is actually senseless. You may choose to believe that, I don’t.

I believe that by deliberately refusing to play the games of Power he was thrust into the middle of them, by refusing to Self-Actualise as the world defines it Jesus showed a different way of playing your part in life, a different approach to Fate, to Communal Identity and self in society. It is a way that the mainstream hates so much that it is prepared to kill to “deal” with it – Martin Luther King, the unknown student in Tienanmen Square, Oscar Arnulfo Romero.

Most of us don’t have to die if you decide to play by his rules, but you may have to lose your “self” and that is a completely unpalatable idea in modern society where self-hood grows ever more important than the communal good. Don’t expect people to like you if you won’t play their games – no matter how good your own games are.

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