Did you know that Easter was not in fact a borrowed pagan holiday? I did not know this -- I myself had swallowed the line that Christianity took it over from some pagan spring festival. Hat tip to Jeff Overstreet for this one.

Also in the spirit of the season, [livejournal.com profile] tree_and_leaf pointed me to this fine article by John Polkinghorne on Motivated Belief and the Stringent Search for Truth. Which in turn reminded me of this poem, "Guard at the Sepulcher" by Edwin Markham:

I was a Roman soldier in my prime;
Now age is on me, and the yoke of time.
I saw your Risen Christ, for I am he
Who reached the hyssop to Him on the tree,
And I am one of two who watched beside
The sepulcher of Him we crucified.

All that last night I watched with sleepless eyes;
Great stars arose and crept across the skies.
The world was all too still for mortal rest,
For pitiless thoughts were busy in the breast.
The night was long, so long it seemed at last
I had grown old and a long life had passed.
Far off, the hills of Moab, touched with light,
Were swimming in the hallow of the night.
I saw Jerusalem all wrapped in cloud,
Stretched like a dead thing folded in a shroud.

Once in the pauses of our whispered talk
I heard a something on the garden walk.
Perhaps it was a crisp leaf lightly stirred --
Perhaps the dream-note of a waking bird.
Then suddenly an angel, burning white,
Came down with earthquake in the breaking light,
And rolled the great stone from the sepulcher,
Mixing the morning with a scent of myrrh.
And lo, the Dead had risen with the day:
The Man of Mystery had gone His way!

Years have I wandered, carrying my shame;
Now let the tooth of time eat out my name.
For we, who all the wonder might have told,
Kept silence, for our mouths were stopt with gold.
C.S. Lewis, on the Resurrection:

Early in 1926 the hardest boiled of all the atheists I ever knew sat in my room on the other side of the fire and remarked that the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels was really surprisingly good. "Rum thing," he went on. "All that stuff of Frazer's about the Dying God. Rum thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once."
-- Surprised by Joy

The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens — at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle.
-- God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics

I believe in the literal, historical fact of the bodily resurrection of the physically incarnate Son of God, known on Earth by the common name of Y'shua --Joshua -- Jesus. But I also believe it to be the climax of the most wonderful Story ever told, about the most remarkable Character ever to grace the page.

He is risen, indeed.


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