The Harry Potter series of books finally ensorcelled my daughter last week over Spring Break. She has watched all the movies (in fact, I’m sure we have Harry Potter to thank for her utter lack of hesitation about wearing her new glasses) and I figured she just needed a jump-start on the books, so we snuggled up with the first volume, reading aloud. She protested when I halted at bedtime, but (as I’d hoped) asked if she could continue on her own during her Reading Time before lights-out. Score!
She spent the entire next day reading in the tent-fort we’d constructed in her room, emerging only for meals and for rice-pudding requests–and by the morning following that one, she already had Book Three in hand. She’s very keen on winkling out the differences between the films and the books, as well as her own misunderstandings in viewing the films. (My favorite? Her belief, until now, that Fawkes the Phoenix was called Fork.) And she’s full of insightful questions, which she mostly saves up for bedtime in hopes of stalling the lights-out moment.
“Mommy, Why does it say Snape will never forgive Harry’s father for saving his life?” I floated the theory that Snape was probably glad to have had his life saved, but probably resents the fact that he owes it in particular to Harry’s father, whom he hates so bitterly. A discussion of school bullying ensued, and then she returned to the topic at hand. “Is that why he hates Harry so much? Because Harry’s dad bullied him?” Yes, I imagine so. “But Mommy, it’s not as if Harry was his father reborn. He’s not like Fawkes the Phoenix that keeps getting born again.”
A fitting topic this Easter week, when we celebrate the ultimate in Resurrection stories. Easter has always been my favorite of the Christian holidays, and I embrace the essence of what it celebrates, though I’m not entirely “sold” on the history of it. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a firm believer in God’s miracles, having experienced more than one in my own life (see “Amazing Grace, how sweet the SOUNDS” for an indisputable example), so it’s entirely possible that the Resurrection literally happened. But whether or not the guy was walking around again the week after his murder, the teachings and example of the man Yeshua demonstrate that he was a guy who was connected to God–and the Easter holiday celebrates the “second chances” we can gain through finding a connection to God ourselves. I suppose my objection to the catholic (small-c or big-C, take your pick) presentation of his story is the revisionist history and censorship imposed after the fact.
It’s an understandable and human impulse (though regrettably short of divine) for the powerful people within a young church to consolidate its power base by compiling a canon of gospels from the texts that can be read as pointing to the church itself as the only acceptable route to enlightenment of salvation. It just doesn’t jive with what Jesus shared about his own enlightenment–and there’s my objection.
Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Behold, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds in the sky will get there before you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will get there before you. Rather, the kingdom is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and embody poverty.”
That’s from the Gospel of Thomas–one of the extant texts the church didn’t choose. The man Yeshua understood that he had God within himself–that each of us does–and that all that remains for us to do is to connect with God where God already IS. Within ourselves.
As for resurrection, in the sense of the revival of something from a state of decay, disuse or death–as a member of the Addiction Recovery community, I’m surrounded by examples. I AM an example. (And come to think of it, no few of these folks have been “resurrected” from a state of clinical death as well…)
If you’re not familiar with the Twelve-Step program (A.A. and others), its cornerstone is a spiritual connection to God. A person needn’t be religious, in the sense of subscribing to any particular doctrine or dogma–in fact, the generic term “Higher Power” is used in Recovery literature, with the understanding that each person might substitute whatever name they personally apply to that Higher Power. (A common saying in A.A. is that “Religion is for people who fear hell; Spirituality is for people who have been there.”) But to Recover from addiction in this program, the only answer is to find your connection with God.
In a sense, we Addicts (those of us who have made it to Recovery, at least) are fortunate, in that we were each provided with a driving and desperate need to hook up with God.
Faced with Alcoholic destruction, we soon became as open minded on spiritual matters as we had tried to be on other questions. In this respect alcohol was a great persuader. It finally beat us into a state of reasonableness.
That’s from another “scripture” of sorts–the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous.
If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn’t there. Our human resources, as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly. Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously.
The only thing more powerful than Addiction is God, and we need him to revive and survive. Or, as the A.A. old-timers sometimes bluntly tell a resistant newcomer: “If you don’t get God… You’re fucked.” Not precisely how most churches would word the precept, but at its heart, that IS the Easter message. If I don’t look within myself, my life will embody poverty–as it DID when I was rolling in money and drinking away my soul.
Whether we find our own connection with God in a church pew and through the example and teachings of that murdered man who found his own connection to God a couple millennia ago–or whether we find it in a folding chair and a cloud of cigarette smoke through the words of a grizzled and tattooed ex-Hell’s Angel with a hell-to-angel journey from Addicted Possession to becoming God’s gritty messenger… It’s really not a long journey to get to God, because (as Yeshua pointed out) he’s been hanging out with each of us from the get-go. Some of us just over-complicate the journey.
My husband Keoni’s first tattoo out of Rehab was a phoenix, with the inscription: “Out of the Ashes of Addiction, Renewal and Growth,” along with the date when he hanged himself and was transported by ambulance to the rehab hospital. That fierce-looking fellow is our own resurrection symbol… Although we’re now referring to him as Fork.