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Happy Easter, with a Bach blessing

[ by Charles Cameron — from the heart, may it go to the heart, as Beethoven once said ]
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Yesterday, Nicholas Kristof posed the question, President Carter, Am I a Christian? His subhead read, Christians celebrate Easter on Sunday. But wait — do we really think Jesus literally rose from the dead?

Here’s a taste:

NICHOLAS KRiSTOFF: How literally do you take the Bible, including miracles like the Resurrection?

PRESIDENT CARTER: Having a scientific background, I do not believe in a six-day creation of the world that occurred in 4004 B.C., stars falling on the earth, that kind of thing. I accept the overall message of the Bible as true, and also accept miracles described in the New Testament, including the virgin birth and the Resurrection.

KRiSTOFF: With Easter approaching, let me push you on the Resurrection. If you heard a report today from the Middle East of a man brought back to life after an execution, I doubt you’d believe it even if there were eyewitnesses. So why believe ancient accounts written years after the events?

CARTER: I would be skeptical of a report like you describe. My belief in the resurrection of Jesus comes from my Christian faith, and not from any need for scientific proof. I derive a great personal benefit from the totality of this belief, which comes naturally to me.

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Et Resurrexit, from the Credo, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, performed by Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under the baton of Daniel Reuss:

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I guess I’m a reverse Bultmann: I don’t want to de-mythologize Christianity, I love to re-mythologize it.

If the Bible opened with the words, “Once upon a Time, God created the heavens and the earth..” and the Creed, “I make-beieve in One God, The Father Almighty..” we would still be in story, but no longer subject to the same kind of debate as to the historicity or dubiosity of the narrative’s claims. It’s a move that the literary critic Northrop Frye made on a more intimate scale when he called the Book of Revelation:

a fairy tale about a damsel in distress, a hero killing dragons, a wicked witch, and a wonderful city glittering with jewels”

I’m not interested in this move because it’s literary criticism; I’m interested in it because it rescues the great story corpus of our civilization from blind literalism on one side and blind debunking on the other.

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Bach, I believe, in his towering Mass in B Minor — written by a fervent Lutheran to the Latin, hence Catholic, text of a rite he would have celebrated in Luther’s and his own native German — offers those who cannot believe the literal truth another avenue to experience the majesty of the ideation. This at least need not be disavowed by those leabving the faith, and may serve as a welcome portal to those entering it.

Wishing you a happy and blessed Easter, one and all..

3 Responses to “Happy Easter, with a Bach blessing”

  1. Charles Cameron Says:

    I’m delighted and humbled to read Pundita’s latest: Happy Easter from Charles Cameron and Bach. Writing is a joy, but having readers (Jim, Grurray, y’all) takes joy to another level.
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    Profound gratitude.

  2. Grurray Says:

    Happy belated Easter and Happy Bright Monday, Charles. I’m sure I’m speaking for all your readers when I say that it’s always a pleasure and privilege to read your blog posts.
    Regarding Young Earth Creationism, I would like to submit 13th century Kabbalist Isaac of Acre https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_ben_Samuel_of_Acre#Theory_of_age_of_the_Universe
    who used ancient scriptures to come remarkably close to estimating the age of the universe.
    Using his method of divine years would place Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden roughly 6 million years ago. This is around the time scientists have recently theorized that the final divergence between hominids and apes took place.
    Another somewhat eschatological interpretation is we’re in the final “year” of the 7 year Sabbatical cycle, which would amount to 7 x 6000 x 1000.
    This would push Adam and Eve back to 40 million some odd years ago, which could correspond to the recovery from the Cretaceous mass extinction event.

  3. J.ScottShipman Says:

    Sorry I’m a day late, Charles, but hope you had a blessed Easter (Pascha). Thank you so much for sharing the Dom Gregory Dix quote at FB. I’m on about page 440ish, but I thumbed ahead. An Orthodox Deacon friend loaned me his copy of Dix—after reading only 10 or 15 pages I ordered a copy (and old copy—1947, I think). You and I have bantered off-and-on here for many years about the Church, but viewed through the lens of our new attraction to Orthodoxy, I hope we can continue—and maybe I’ll contribute a bit, for the Lord knows I’ve been delinquent from my posting duties; woefully delinquent.
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    Blessings to you, sir!

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