Easter people or Christmas people?

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This came up for me in the "create your own world system" thread.

I'd like to offer this for discussion:

If Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end - and time is timeless - I prefer the Christmas story. And since Rome was the governing authority of much of the world as the institution of Christianity was built up - it's not a surprise to me that they embedded a violent and militant focus into Christianity itself. Jesus died a violent death. It was a violent time. There's not much good about that, especially as it is still a very violent and corrupt world. It is time for humanity to shift priorities, I hope.
 
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Yes, Jesus conquered death. Why can't we, then, as Christians, be a "Christmas People"? Why harp on the violence and bloodshed story repeatedly? Why do people go to church to hear about that over and over again? Maybe that has had a negative impact on the ethos of the world over time. If it can always be Easter why can't it always be Christmas?
 

Mendalla

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But Easter isn't really about bloodshed unless you're heavily into atonement theology. It's about Resurrection. Good Friday is about bloodshed, but it is not the climax of the story, just the prelude to Easter. I'd go so far as to say that identifying Easter with bloodshed is missing the point by a country mile. The real message of Easter, as I read it, is not that he died a horrible death but that he overcame a horrible death through the Resurrection. We need not fear death and violence because they will be overcome by God's Will.

To be clear, the Nativity is an important and powerful story, too. However, let's face it, only two Gospels even bothered to record it and they contradict themselves all over the place, while all of them record the Resurrection fairly consistently. Paul's letters never talk about the Nativity, but they do talk about the Resurrection and the Risen Christ. Clearly the Resurrection, not the Nativity, is the central event in Christianity. And the Crucifixion is prelude to that, the necessary beginning of the story, but it is not itself the whole story.

So I'd call myself an Easter Christian were I still the latter. Both are powerful myths and both deserve their place, but Easter is clearly the climax of the Christ myth cycle.
 

EasternOrthodox

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Easter is by far the biggest celebration of the church year for the Orthodox. There are various extra services, some with a sombre mood, but then with great celebration after.

“Christ is risen!” is heard everywhere (including several different languages.)
 

Waterfall

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But Easter isn't really about bloodshed unless you're heavily into atonement theology. It's about Resurrection. Good Friday is about bloodshed, but it is not the climax of the story, just the prelude to Easter. I'd go so far as to say that identifying Easter with bloodshed is missing the point by a country mile. The real message of Easter, as I read it, is not that he died a horrible death but that he overcame a horrible death through the Resurrection. We need not fear death and violence because they will be overcome by God's Will.

To be clear, the Nativity is an important and powerful story, too. However, let's face it, only two Gospels even bothered to record it and they contradict themselves all over the place, while all of them record the Resurrection fairly consistently. Paul's letters never talk about the Nativity, but they do talk about the Resurrection and the Risen Christ. Clearly the Resurrection, not the Nativity, is the central event in Christianity. And the Crucifixion is prelude to that, the necessary beginning of the story, but it is not itself the whole story.

So I'd call myself an Easter Christian were I still the latter. Both are powerful myths and both deserve their place, but Easter is clearly the climax of the Christ myth cycle.
And you turned your back on Christianity because?? Not challenging your choice, just curious why you answered Kimmio this way, when you obviously don't "buy" into the way the"myth" is told either.
 

Mendalla

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And you turned your back on Christianity because?? Not challenging your choice, just curious why you answered Kimmio this way, when you obviously don't "buy" into the way the"myth" is told either.
A. One can "buy into" a myth without taking the historical and doctrinal baggage that goes with it. I have preached using the myth of Semele but that doesn't mean I follow the ancient Greek religion, just that I found meaning in it.
B. I kind of thought it was clear by now that I am perpetually sitting the line, not using the term "Christian" while actually still embracing a form of Christianity.
 

Waterfall

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A. One can "buy into" a myth without taking the historical and doctrinal baggage that goes with it. I have preached using the myth of Semele but that doesn't mean I follow the ancient Greek religion, just that I found meaning in it.
B. I kind of thought it was clear by now that I am perpetually sitting the line, not using the term "Christian" while actually still embracing a form of Christianity.
Yes I am aware of your, shall I call it your "questioning"? I question things too....just thought you'd add some insights for Kimmio that came from your questioning, rather than resort to the stock answers that are given by most churches.
 

Mendalla

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Yes I am aware of your, shall I call it your "questioning"? I question things too....just thought you'd add some insights for Kimmio that came from your questioning, rather than resort to the stock answers that are given by most churches.
Sometimes stock answers are right. Where I would part from the stock answers is in my belief, which I did reference there, that both stories are myths, not history. Which leaves the door open to other understandings of them.

However, I think anyone who has spent time reading that myth as expressed in the Gospels and letters has to conclude that the Resurrection is a core part of the Christian mythology while the Nativity seems to be something a couple of them added to make points. It's a great story and I am quite fond of it, but I think that if Matthew and Luke hadn't included it, the only change in Christianity would be the absence of Christmas. Take away the Resurrection and you just have another 1st century Jewish preacher. Christianity likely doesn't happen beyond maybe a small reform movement in Judaism. Easter is the religion's core myth.

Now, where the "questioning" comes in is what we make of that core myth, how we think about it and incorporate it into our lives and beliefs. A big part of that for me is seeing it as one myth among many. It is not a "core myth" for me which is why I dropped "Christian" from my labelling. I happen to find it quite powerful and meaningful, but I don't see it as the be-all and end-all of truth or salvation or spirituality, and certainly don't think one must believe it literally or otherwise. I do think that to call oneself Christian means dealing with it, though.
 
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Waterfall

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It's a great story and I am quite fond of it, but I think that if Matthew and Luke hadn't included it, the only change in Christianity would be the absence of Christmas. Take away the Resurrection and you just have another 1st century Jewish preacher. Christianity likely doesn't happen beyond maybe a small reform movement in Judaism.
I'm not so sure.....I have often wondered how people would have "seen" Jesus after the resurrection, was it that they finally understood something that Jesus was teaching or did they literally see him? You do have to be born in order to be born again after all. The alpha and the omega?
 
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But Easter isn't really about bloodshed unless you're heavily into atonement theology. It's about Resurrection. Good Friday is about bloodshed, but it is not the climax of the story, just the prelude to Easter. I'd go so far as to say that identifying Easter with bloodshed is missing the point by a country mile. The real message of Easter, as I read it, is not that he died a horrible death but that he overcame a horrible death through the Resurrection. We need not fear death and violence because they will be overcome by God's Will.

To be clear, the Nativity is an important and powerful story, too. However, let's face it, only two Gospels even bothered to record it and they contradict themselves all over the place, while all of them record the Resurrection fairly consistently. Paul's letters never talk about the Nativity, but they do talk about the Resurrection and the Risen Christ. Clearly the Resurrection, not the Nativity, is the central event in Christianity. And the Crucifixion is prelude to that, the necessary beginning of the story, but it is not itself the whole story.

So I'd call myself an Easter Christian were I still the latter. Both are powerful myths and both deserve their place, but Easter is clearly the climax of the Christ myth cycle.
You have to get through the violent part to celebrate Easter. And there is a lot of focus on blood and death in what Christianity chose to point its lens at. Does it desensitize people to violence to focus on Easter?

I do believe in Jesus. I also believe the institution of Christianity has focused on the wrong priorities lots of times.
 
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I'm not so sure.....I have often wondered how people would have "seen" Jesus after the resurrection, was it that they finally understood something that Jesus was teaching or did they literally see him? You do have to be born in order to be born again after all. The alpha and the omega?
If they literally saw him it wouldn’t be nice. According to some stories, Thomas put his fingers right into Jesus’ flesh wounds. That’s what he needed to believe...literally! ...and that’s pretty gross. That’s a zombie story. I don’t think many would be happy to see their loved ones literally risen from graves!
 
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But Easter isn't really about bloodshed unless you're heavily into atonement theology. It's about Resurrection. Good Friday is about bloodshed, but it is not the climax of the story, just the prelude to Easter. I'd go so far as to say that identifying Easter with bloodshed is missing the point by a country mile. The real message of Easter, as I read it, is not that he died a horrible death but that he overcame a horrible death through the Resurrection. We need not fear death and violence because they will be overcome by God's Will.

To be clear, the Nativity is an important and powerful story, too. However, let's face it, only two Gospels even bothered to record it and they contradict themselves all over the place, while all of them record the Resurrection fairly consistently. Paul's letters never talk about the Nativity, but they do talk about the Resurrection and the Risen Christ. Clearly the Resurrection, not the Nativity, is the central event in Christianity. And the Crucifixion is prelude to that, the necessary beginning of the story, but it is not itself the whole story.

So I'd call myself an Easter Christian were I still the latter. Both are powerful myths and both deserve their place, but Easter is clearly the climax of the Christ myth cycle.
He did die. He died and was resurrected. He didn’t just take a long nap. He did say at the time of death “it is finished.” He conquered death, so why do we focus on his crucifixion not his birth...his reason for being born into the world is important and seems to me to be the core message. If Christmas story wasn’t included, what would be the purpose of his arrival? Hope, peace, joy, love...the greatest of these is love. That’s the core message. I’m not missing the point of Easter, I feel uneasy about it. It keeps happening over and over. The death penalty still exists in places, innocent people still get killed by authorities. There’s corruption, greed, brutal prison states. Why does the world need to be like that? It doesn’t! I don’t believe it does need to be like that.

We go from a beautiful story to a brutal story, and it’s the brutal story that we celebrate most? There is a focus on bloodshed. In some places, it’s re-enacted (without actual crucifixion, but to put focus on it)...someone gets paraded through town on a cross...they role play the chain of events for days. It’s church theology and it offends people to question it. But I don’t see why focusing more on Christmas is offensive. Some Christian sects have focused on Revelation most of all. And it has had consequences. It has led to apocalyptic attitudes and behaviour that shapes world events. What would it look like, then, to focus on Christmas a little more? What harm would it do? I’m not suggesting we should forget Easter, just switch focus.
 
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I am dealing with it...by suggesting a refocusing of priorities. I’ve heard plenty of people not sure how to wrestle with the violence of the crucifixion. Plenty have left church because of that. Why not make it less of a priority and the essence of Christmas more of a priority? Instead of dealing with it by whitewashing Easter, deal with it by focusing on Christmas more?
 

Carolla

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Jesus was born to herald peace on Earth. Magi from foreign places came to visit him. It was an international joyous event.
I guess that's one interpretation of it. There are others of course. I don't think Jesus birth was the 'beautiful story' you are proposing - diving into history of the time would tell you differently.

Churches vary widely in the 'emphasis' they put on Jesus death - it's a huge thing in the Roman Catholic church - witness the crucifix hanging everywhere. In many Protestant churches the empty cross is on display - so we are Easter people - acknowledging the crucifixion but much more focused on the resurrection of Christ & its meaning for us.
 
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I guess that's one interpretation of it. There are others of course. I don't think Jesus birth was the 'beautiful story' you are proposing - diving into history of the time would tell you differently.

Churches vary widely in the 'emphasis' they put on Jesus death - it's a huge thing in the Roman Catholic church - witness the crucifix hanging everywhere. In many Protestant churches the empty cross is on display - so we are Easter people - acknowledging the crucifixion but much more focused on the resurrection of Christ & its meaning for us.
Would deciding to be a Christmas person make me not a Christian anymore?
 

Carolla

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Would deciding to be a Christmas person make me not a Christian anymore?
I don't see why it would - if you still have a belief in Christ & follow those teachings. The teachings of Jesus as a prophet also factor into some other religions ... so I think it may be a little more complex than just Christmas or Easter.
 

BetteTheRed

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Hmmm...if not believing in God in any fashion still lets me be a Christian, I'd be guessing you're cool, Kimmio. As long as you don't stray too far from a fairly progressive group/belief system.
 
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