Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Zombie Day!

Today was the first time in a long time that I neither had to work at the day job or be at rehearsal for Hairspray, and I was so very grateful for the extra sleep.

Today was also Easter, the holiest day on the Christian calendar. Personally, I find that to be hilarious because unlike Christmas, which is always on December 25th, Easter is rarely on the same day from year to year. So how is the date of Easter determined? Well, by the most pagan of ways, of course. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon which follows the vernal equinox. It has nothing at all to do with the actual date of Jesus' resurrection, which (conceivably) should always be the same day on the Julian calender. My birthday is always July 18th. The Fourth of July is always on July Fourth. April Fools' Day is always April 1st. Jesus' birthday is always celebrated on December 25th. So why is Easter different? 

It all goes back to the early days of Christianity, when there were so many calendars and religions from which to choose (much like today). The Romans, who controlled much of the Eastern hemisphere at the time, had many gods and celebrations in their gods' names. The pagans (mostly those folks in what is modern Great Britain and Scotland) also had many gods and celebrations in their gods' names. 

When Emperor Constantine finally settled on Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, he also decided to incorporate the holidays of the majority of his subjects into the relatively new religion. Hence the inclusion of fertility symbols like rabbits and eggs in our modern Easter celebrations. Of course, if the Romans had chosen Mithraism or Zoastriaism as their official religion, I'd be posting about a completely different set of imaginary holidays now. We'd celebrate by wearing Anatolian costumes and Phrygian caps; slaughtering scared bulls and worshiping a naked, lion-headed figure instead of the suffering figure of a man being crucified.

A Zombie Chocolate Bunny
When Christianity was a fledgling cult, there were (as today) hundreds of mythologies from which to choose. None of them (as today) made any real sense. All of them were born out of our pre-scientific understanding of the world in which we live. Magic and mystery were commonly accepted by those who were uneducated, superstitious and afraid (also a good description of the modern Republican party).

It amazes me that so many people in the 21st Century (a random date also determined by the Julian calendar) choose to believe in mythology over science. But so very many do.

I suppose we all share the same fear of death and Religion somehow allows many of us to assuage that fear with a promise of an eternal afterlife. Heaven forfend that this one life is all we get (you should excuse my use of an imaginary place where 'good' people get to spend a conceptual existence after they die). Personally, I just don't buy it. 

Okay - I didn't mean to bum with you out with a lesson in existentialism or atheistic dogma (Wow -- talk about oxymorons!). Believe whatever you want to. Who am I to judge? If you think Jesus brought Lazarus (perhaps history's first zombie) back from the dead and then was later assumed to 'Heaven' to spend eternity alongside His Father/Self/Spirit, I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise. I will, however, tell you how ridiculous I think the concept is. Of course, it's no sillier than believing in Allah; Yahweh; Zeus; Baal; Mithra; Osiris; Quetzalcoatl; Tawa or Gaea. Whatever gets you through the night.

If I was forced to choose (and because I live in America, I'm not), I'd like to think this is as good an origin story as any:

Tonight is my last regular post until after Hairspray opens next week. The first of my guest posters will be appearing tomorrow. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

More, anon.

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