Leap of Faith
Happy Easter! Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday, and if you’ve been celebrating Passover or another religious day - GREAT! I’m just saying Happy Easter.
The Easter holiday is based on the leap of faith Christians make to follow history’s most famous man (yes, that would be Jesus). And what, exactly, is history? Well, it’s not what you want it to be. And it isn’t something that can be altered to accommodate a political or personal point-of-view, contradicting what many politicians and television pundits base their popularity and careers upon.
History is to civilization what memory is to each of us: an irreducible part of our identity as human beings.
Which is why education is so paramount for people, and especially to those of us in the United States (regardless of a chosen faith or non-religious faith). The goal of education is not to get into a good college or get a good job. The goal of education is to produce the citizen. I know, crazy huh? Because what is a citizen of a nation, a community or a culture? My definition has nothing to do with the dictionary.
A citizen is a person who, if our planet was attacked by aliens or zombies or some kind of disease that wiped out entire populations, the citizen could re-create his/her civilization. Sounds like a Star Trek movie!
The paradigm for western civilization, and I say this at the risk of being called all kinds of names, are the cities of Athens and Jerusalem. Athens because its core values were a philosophical and scientific view of actuality. Jerusalem because its view was spiritual and scriptural. It’s a good place to start looking at history, how we got here, and why Easter is important to the United States.
Look at it this way: both cities went through their epic or “heroic” phases. For Athens, the Homeric poems are similar to scriptures, the subject of prolonged ethical meditation. Over time those heroic ideals are internalized as a philosophy in Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Jerusalem had its Hebrew narratives, and its “heroic” phase consisted of Jesus internalizing Mosaic Law. So you have Socrates, the heroic philosopher, and Jesus as the ideal of heroic holiness, both of which were new ideals in their intensity - the cutting edge of communication, information and entertainment in their day.
These cities, divided by philosophical/religious belief systems, together influenced how we live. How history is perceived and, just as important, how our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, our Bill of Rights and the laws of the United States are written and executed. Knowing history is as important as knowing the password to your email account. And part of history, no matter how controversial, is the story of Jesus and the crux of Christianity, which is the leap of faith Christians make as Believers.
That leap of faith, which can also be defined as “risk”, applies directly to the founding of this country - a persecuted people escaping oppression to found (what they thought was) a new world. A leap of faith is inherent to the founding of a new nation, overcoming a Civil War and World Wars and slavery and all the problems we as citizens will encounter in our lives in the private or public or political sectors. Combining the philosophical and religious mores of Athens and Jerusalem, we’ve come to Easter, 2014.
So I say Happy Easter, regardless of your religion or rejection of religion. The stories live: Plato writes “The Republic;” Jesus rises from the tomb; a country is founded based on personal freedoms and the acceptance that sometimes you have to risk something to get something.
Sometimes we all need to take a leap of faith.