Secular in the Pew (Easter)

From the dead tree inside to the living trees outside

While I was attending an Easter service with my wife (she was the guest minister), gazing at the dead branches of an empty cross, wishing I could see out through the stained-glass to the spring green. . .

my short essay on The Story was published on Rational Doubt (The Clergy Project):

The Greatest Story Not Yet Told



6 thoughts on “Secular in the Pew (Easter)

  1. I enjoyed this article so much! While recovering from religion’s effects I am sometimes too quick to dismiss everything about Jesus. It is interesting to think about the story told through rational eyes, without all the kooky stuff. I wish it had been told that way, it would have been a story worthy of a documentary or two, not an entire way of life. Could have saved a lot of heartache and more than a few deaths.

  2. Chris,
    You have alot of interesting questions in your article, some of which I have asked myself in the past! However, for me personally I keep coming back to the idea of dying for a lie- I would not die for a story I knew to be false, I value my breath too much for that- so why would the early followers of Yeshua willingly die for a story they knew to be false? I don’t buy the cover up idea because it doesn’t hold to human reality. You know I am not trying to convert, that is not me, I am trying to understand more completely your point of view and how you reconcile that question- as you know part of my journey of questioning traditions as well.

    1. Got it, Brandon. Thanks for the comment.

      Back in “the day,” I spent a lot of time studying apologetics. C.S. Lewis’ “liar, lunatic or lord” argument was popular. As if those were the only choices.

      The question you raise was always a central issue. Yet, here’s the thing: people believed the story, and yes, some died for it. As people have sacrificed themselves for many causes even when those causes were made up (think, WMD’s in Iraq, or, perhaps, Joseph Smith and the golden plates), they gave their lives with sincerity and devotion. I can’t fault that. Was “the story” a lie “they knew to be false”? I’m not so sure of that. Not an “intentional” lie, anyway (we could hope not).

      Did Muhammad hear an angel dictate the Qur’an to him in that Arabian cave? Christians may say that was a lie, and yet countless people have died for that story. Does that invalidate it or negate their deaths?

      I just think believers, of any faith, need to be honest and fair with these questions. If another story is questionable or believed to be false, it’s “mirror time.” If we’re afraid to look in the mirror and be self-reflective, something’s akilter.

      My article raises the questions I think need to be asked of a 2000-year-old story from another culture, religion, language, etc. The article is about wondering what really happened and whether the story can be told today. Not so that people will die for it, or even spend time arguing over whether it was “true” or not, but to learn some lessons from it and somehow, someway, make something positive of it we can all, believers and non-believers, live out side by side in the only world we’re sure of as our home.

      btw, this is the approach I take to Religion in general. As a secular person, I can still learn from every tradition, even when I don’t accept the literal “truths” that are proclaimed. As I learned way back in my evangelical college, “all truth is God’s truth.” I’ve just dropped the “God” part of that.

      I realize this view won’t be satisfying. It wouldn’t have satisfied the evangelical Chris from 45 years ago! But maybe it helps explain where I’m coming from.

      All the best to you, Brandon.


      1. Thanks Chris for your clarity and sincerity. I love that you question and want to discover as that is where I find myself in my faith walk. I would say we are similar in thoughts, but I haven’t dropped the God-part- lol!
        I have been questioning many prats and traditions in my faith and the answers I am finding don’t sit well with the masses- not that I care, but I think it is alright to ask questions and not be satisfied with the status quo and follow traditions blindly.
        But yet faith for me is a central part of who I am to my core.
        I do appreciate these conversations we have every now and then as I find them compelling and faith expanding!
        Trust you have a great day Chris,

  3. This is good, Brandon. I appreciate your sincerity as well. It’s interesting that similar issues arose today in a class I’m teaching on naturalist John Muir. A student said he was a “person of faith” and was troubled by Muir’s use of religious language in a way that made the student feel he couldn’t have his own faith in Nature. I reminded him that Muir was a person of faith, just a different sort of faith. This led to a good class discussion on different faiths, perspectives, outlooks.

    Questions are always good to face head-on with these things.


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