The How and the What of the Resurrection story are the source of great debate for Christian scholars and believers and even whole denominations now and over the centuries.  And of course for non-Christians as well.  “Was there a body?  Was it real or a ghost?  Was there an empty tomb?  Why are the post-resurrections stories of his appearances so diverse?  Is it factual or symbolic?”  Etc. etc.

Image of the Resurrection by Indigenous Artist, Ullrich Javier Lemus, which can by found in Matthew Fox‘s book, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.

What cannot be debated however about the Easter story is the Why of the resurrection.  The human species has always been concerned and curious about death and what happens after we die.  This curiosity goes back to the earliest evidence we have where humans took special care to bury their dead as if for a great journey,

Indeed, cultural historian and psychologist Otto Rank developed an entire understanding of the human race being a history of the quest for immortality.  (In fact, he defines the “soul” as our quest for immortality.) 

He names the quest has having evolved this way: From the immortality of the “tribe;” and the “Double;” to the proper burying of the pharaoh in pyramids (whereby his subject would participate in some vicarious way in his immortality); to the mimicking of this immortality project by kings (“the king is dead; God save the [new] king;” to beauty (Greeks); to Law (the Romans); to the family (who is legitimate and who is not?); and therefore sexuality; to today.

Matthew Fox was recently a guest on the podcast, What If Project, where he spoke his book on Thomas Aquinas and the two resurrections.
Podcast episode here.

Each version of immortality carries into the next so we carry all these aspects within us up to today.

Rank, who was a Jew and not a Christian, nevertheless said this about Easter:  The Resurrection as taught by Jesus and Paul presents us with “the most revolutionary idea in human history.”  Why?  Because it democratizes immortality and thus ‘cures’ humanity of its number one preoccupation: The fear of death.  Now, he says, humanity can let go of compulsive militarism, consumerism, pyramid-building, fame hunting, power-gathering…and live.  Live fully.  Live beyond the fear of death.

Image of Otto Rank taken from Wikipedia.

There lies the message of Easter according to a very wise man named Otto Rank.  Moving beyond the fear of death is resurrection and it allows us to choose to live simply and not in a mood of rapacious pursuit of false idols of immortality that require the plundering of Mother Earth and the killing of future generations and the extinction of other species to achieve its goals.  Which goals are folly and not wisdom.

Might this be the story of Easter 2020?  A story from a Jewish psychiatrist and student of cultural history who has rightly been called the “father of humanistic psychology” for his influence on Abraham Maslow, Karl Rogers and Rollo May.  Let us move beyond death, beyond necrophilia, to biophilia and love of life.  Which, we believe, triumphs over death.

Blessed Easter to all.

See Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion, pp. 111-126.

Banner Image: Sunlight invading cave through opening. Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

What is your response to Rank saying the Resurrection is humanity’s most revolutionary idea?

What follows from the democratizing of immortality in your opinion?

Recommended Reading

Resurrection Logic: How Jesus’ First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead

Bruce Chilton investigates the Easter event of Jesus in Resurrection Logic. He undertakes his close reading of the New Testament texts without privileging the exact nature of the resurrection, but rather begins by situating his study of the resurrection in the context of Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, and Syrian conceptions of the afterlife. He then identifies Jewish monotheistic affirmations of bodily resurrection in the Second Temple period as the most immediate context for early Christian claims. Chilton surveys first-generation accounts of Jesus’ resurrection and finds a pluriform–and even at times seemingly contradictory–range of testimony from Jesus’ first followers. This diversity, as Chilton demonstrates, prompted early Christianity to interpret the resurrection traditions by means of prophecy and coordinated narrative.

Click here for a SALE on BOTH the Stations of the Cosmic Christ Book and Meditation Cards.

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4 thoughts on “Easter in a Time of Plague”

  1. Avatar

    Good morning and Happy Easter! A very stormy morning but the birds are still singing, so we shall join them! Have a Blessed Easter Sunday, see you tomorrow.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Laura,
      Thank you for your greeting. The birds are singing praises. The wind is full of itself. And the rain is clapping for joy! Happy Easter to you and all the glorious Creation around you.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar

    Why have we complicated immortality? “Like the grain falls to the earth……..”
    Mother Earth and Father Sky simply take our being into their being and on we go round and round………
    Transfiguring and transforming, trans substantiating ……. energy into energy

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Thank you for this description, Dagmar. I think you have captured the eternal spiral of life, death, resurrection, and transformation beautifully. So, if I understand you, not only the wafer at Eucharist becomes transubstantiated into the Christ. We do, too!
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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