What does Good Friday mean today?

 

                Easter is a  bitter sweet festival. First comes the grim Friday. Churches are stripped bare. Christians are in mourning. The Gospel story is at its most harrowing, the story of the judicial killing of  a man who had done no criminal wrong. For the rest of the country it is a day off.

               Then comes the joy of Easter Sunday. The Christian message of resurrection becomes entwined with old pagan rites of Spring, new birth and revival. A modern commercial festival of shopping and indulgence is built on the back of the twin origins. The chocolate makers share the day with the egg producers, the spring lamb farmers and the poultry magnates. The many  celebrate plenty around the Easter table.

              Almost 2000 years on from the cruel events in Jerusalem it is one of those ironies that conflict and violent death still cluster around the streets of some Middle Eastern towns. In 33 AD the Romans were finding decision making as the colonial government difficult with a noisy crowd wanting to influence decisions of life and death. In 2011 AD the western powers want to influence the government of Libya, but do not wish to put troops on the ground as the Romans did, and as the allies have done very recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

                Today’s Romans are more circumspect about military involvement, preferring to leave the difficult engagements to the French, British and Americans. Maybe the poor press Pontius Pilate received for harnessing popular opinion to guide his decisions as a judge have left a long shadow. It has taught latter day Romans how difficult it is to govern another’s country.  Maybe it is just more prosaic worries about the impact on trade and migrant flows if Italy were to take a tougher line.

                 The Easter stories provide a background to  what should be a happy festival, about new life and the triumph of good over evil. The problem this Easter, as on so many other occasions, is the West is still finding it difficult to learn from the problems of the past when it comes to intervening in the government of the Middle East. The Easter present I would like is acknowledgement that the West cannot settle the government of Libya. The UN should  not go beyond a No fly zone, which should be policed by the near neighbours, not the UK.

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16 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    The lesson that needs to be learned is that as irrational beliefs, based on historical books and no real evidence should slowly fade – as people see and understand the abundant real scientific evidence and natural beauty of the world as it is.

    People may on occasion find rituals and beliefs comforting but they and the state should not be pushing these segregations into the minds on children. It causes huge harm and endless wars. It is a form of child abuse when, as it often is, done to excess.

    We should also grow up and resist the temptation to replace these old religions with new pointlessly subsidised and unscientific green ones with their interesting rotating crosses. Pointlessly damaging the countryside for uneconomic electricity.

    In short we should see the fascinating, beautiful, but competitive and often brutal natural world as it actually is and not through some historical belief system or other.

    It is time to grow up people with interesting and colourful gowns, mitres, crooks and big thick old books are just people with colourful gowns and mitres making a good living from people’s weaknesses. Probably at the cost of future wars and community disharmony.

    In some ways very similar to many politicians who also exploit people weaknesses in a similar manor.

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      I must commend lifelogic to read “Why there almost certainly is a God:doubting Dawkins” by Keith Ward. It is a good humoured tilt at Dawkins employing Prof Ward’s formidable scientific powers. It will not convince, but will, at the least, entertain.

  2. Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    This is one of the most appropriate articles I read for some time. Accurate, relevant and witty. The West is not learning because the West is still one power that ultimately decides and many infuencers who like to think they are involved. One might be forgiven in thinking that we all help the American companies and their economy with insufficient Return on our Investments…

  3. David Whitford
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    John, Wishing you a very Happy Easter. Today’s Romans are not only being circumspect about military involvement, they are also, if this blog post is correct http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2011/04/oh-hardship-of-it-all.html , charging the UK £30m per week for the use of their airbase (unsure whether this is standard practice when ‘sharing’ other NATO country assets) and of course earning locally on the hotel accommodation costs for our aircrew & support staff, again put at over £1m per month by the blog. What key services & budgets back in the UK are going to end up being cut to pay for all of this ?

  4. Bill
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Gadhafi has made the transformation from being a good guy (took the reins in 1969)

    To being a bad guy – bomb in Berlin nightclub, Lockerbie, arming the IRA

    To being a good guy, stops WMD development, cooperates against al Qaeda – sanctions lifted, embraced by Mr Blair, arms sales, help with military training.

    Bad guy again – as civil war breaks out – he’s got to go …..”Against his own people” line trotted out

    What message does this give from our leaders? To us here and to other Middle East leaders.

    The Arab world spends billions on weapons – let them intervene.

    We can supply humanitarian aid where possible.

  5. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Pilate has been described at the only sane man in the New Testament yet he has not, like his successors, enjoyed a good press.

    Really from the Arab conquests in the seventh century to date, the Middle East and North Africa have been the nearest to “right” in the Ottoman period. The destruction of Austria Hungary was a disaster for central Europe, and the demise of the Ottomans has, in truth, been little better.

    If recent policy makers had reviewed the consequences of ‘good intentions’ in 1919, perhaps things might turn out better?

  6. Javelin
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Easter for me is about forgiveness. The greatest gift of Christians is their faith allows them to break the cycle of revenge. I take the view that the Muslim religion isn’t particularly economically successful – and so loses out in a global world where we all compete for resources. Ego, pride and subconscious envy drives small groups of agitators. As the oil runs out and the demand for global resources increases then Islam will be at increasing odds with the west. I think where we are now is only the start of deeper things to come.

  7. forthurst
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    My local supermarket appears to have deprecated the Christian celebration of Easter in favour of the Jewish celebration of the Passover if the signs in the aisles are to be interpreted correctly.

    Whether people believe in the literal truth of the Easter story, it is a morality tale about the persecution of a man for proclaiming the truth and the ultimate triumph of that truth through his sacrifice. However, we do not need to look back two thousand years to find a man being persecuted or prosecuted for telling the truth as he sees it. People are being imprisoned in Europe and others in the West have their livelihoods, as historians and journalists, destroyed for denying ‘official’ history today.

    In Guantanamo Bay, the man who has ‘confessed’ his role in masterminding the 9/11 false flag operation is to be tried by a secret military tribunal there. Subjects of our Monarch became the Founding Fathers and then the signatories to the Declaration of independence, nevertheless retaining their English Common law with its habeas corpus and trial by jury. It is a British delusion that the descendents of those people are the same as those that have progressively turned their constitutional republic with its primacy of individual liberty into an evil empire that withholds the rights bequeathed by our common law, which denies the truth of recent events and the which denies the right to travel without being sexually assaulted in the name of the phoney ‘War on Terror’.

    As to the BBC, having a bit of leftie bias is just one of their characteristics: that does not explain why we have had two prgrammes ‘explaining’ how World trade Centre 7 collapsed at freefall speed on 9/11, or why multiculturism and the progressive undermining of this country and its traditions is now part of its remit.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes, the lessons of history, which we seem to have to relearn every 10 years.

  9. rose
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I very much appreciate this intelligent and thoughtful summary of Good Friday and Easter. Traditionally people used to plant their potatoes on Good Friday too.

    In the Cathedral today I noticed it was fuller than ever, for the whole three hours. Maybe marginalisation and persecution are having the usual effect.

  10. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    When we had finished off Hitler in 1945, we gave up. Part of our giving up was our National Church. Today there are not any Easter Services in our village Church which, only ten years ago, was still working – just.
    I was at Lincoln Theological College and, believe me, I have heard the case against the Bible and the Church! Midrash. Invention, Lies, Myths. “A conjuring trick with bones….” And it was put by the finest theological minds in the country, if not the world, actually.
    I could go on. I have been there, lifelogic. I have lived it and earned my living from it too.

    Now, I go to Church as a Catholic. Do you know what? I actually believe that the death of Jesus, public, witnessed, official, actually is an historical event.
    I also believe that Jesus did actually come back from the dead and I also believe that the St Thomas Story, for one, is as historical as, say, Albert Einstein.

    Actually, I am also finding that the scientific basis of my life has changed too. What was once quite simple in an Isaac Newton sort of way, is now extremely silly in a religious way. Quarks? Neutrons? Black Holes? Other Dimensions? This is not the world I was brought in.

    So let me get this straight: Historical? Definitely for me. Scientific? Oh yes.

    So Good Friday for me is the scientific future. Wow!

  11. simple soul
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    One can’t help noticing that all the way through, Egypt, in its coat of many colours, has shown not the slightest interest in the Libyan turmoil. If Egypt sees no reason to get involved, as the nearest neighbour, and as a military state, then it is hard to see why anyone else should feel much enthusiasm for what is rapidly becoming a simple war of aggression.

    Our statesmen would do well to remember Humpty Dumpty. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men, it will be recalled, couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. Libyans are not noted for taking kindly to offers of foreign advice, not even from benefactors. How are we to put Libya together again, after a possibly prolonged period of fighting, partly based on regional and tribal divisions? And even if we do put it together again, how are we going to ensure that it stays together?

    • simple soul
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      The argument that we are doing a wonderful job in Libya, preventing massacres, is now wearing a bit thin. By creating a military stalemate we are probably ensuring that more civilians get killed in the end, than if a rather weak rebel army had not been able to use us to carry out a campaign it was otherwise incapable of. On top of that, there seem to have been few or no reports of any real massacres in the towns which have changed hands, other than deaths incurred in the course of battle. The wish to defend Benghazi from becoming another Sarajevo or Srbebrenica was admirable, and the action was prompt; but our defensive success in Benghazi may have clouded our judgement and led to that greatest of follies, undertaking military operations without a clear objective in mind.

  12. zorro
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I have still not seen a rational case for our involvement in this conflict on any scale of the geo-political spectrum. To carry on the Roman analogy, so far David Cameron appears to have a touch of Publius Quintus Varus about him…..

    Feliz Pasqua!
    zorro

  13. Stuart Fairney
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    The ongoing Jewish relationship with the world superpower, be it Rome or America (and soon China when the American currency collapses) is noteworthy.

  14. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    I did the night vigil for my church once.

    I’d clocked off duty at about 5am and relieved the person covering the 4am watch at the church. We had been instructed to maintain absolute silence. I entered the church which was in complete darkness – squeak squeak squeak … my safety boots on the stone floor. I flopped down in one of the pews and soaked up the restful peace … and then farted outrageously.

    Ten minutes later – as the sun rose – a full choir that had been sitting directly behind me in the darknes began their Gregorian chanting.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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