(Note: If you’re looking for this week’s post about food riots in Africa, you’ll have to page down a bit. The following is a special greeting for Easter Day.)
Most of you know that the Clothesline Report is not a particularly sectarian tract. It is, I hope, accessible by people of all faiths who care about the world, and especially the poor.
But this writer – like many of you – is committed to a particular faith. I am a Christian: which means, I believe that one particular man rose bodily from the dead two millennia ago, and that he is building a world in which all people and all things will be freed from the bonds of evil, suffering and death.
And because this Easter Day is the day Christians celebrate the resurrection, I thought this would be a good day to reflect on this aspect of Christian hope in the words of N.T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England.
The intellectual coup d’etat by which the Enlightenment convinced so many that “we know that dead people don’t rise,” as though this was a modern discovery rather than simply the reaffirmation of what Homer and Aeschylus had taken for granted, goes hand in hand with the Enlightenment’s other proposals, not least that we have now come of age, that God can be kicked upstairs, that we can get on with running the world however we want to, carving it up to our own advantage without outside interference.
To that extent, the totalitarianisms of the last century were simply among the varied manifestations of a larger totalitarianism of thought and culture against which postmodernity has now, and rightly in my view, rebelled.
Who, after all, was it who didn’t want the dead to be raised? Not simply the intellectually timid or the rationalists. It was, and is, those in power, the social and intellectual tyrants and bullies; the Caesars who would be threatened by a Lord of the world who had defeated the tyrant’s last weapon, death itself; the Herods who would be horrified at the postmortem validation of the true King of the Jews.
And this is the point where believing in the resurrection of Jesus suddenly ceases to be a matter of inquiring about an odd event in the first century and becomes a matter of rediscovering hope in the twenty-first century. Hope is what you get when you suddenly realize that a different worldview is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word. The same worldview shift that is demanded by the resurrection of Jesus is the shift that will enable us to transform the world. [N.T. Wright: “Surprised by Hope”]
I hope that many good things come your way this Easter, and in the year ahead. And may we all be able to envision a world transformed.