‘Semana Santa’, Holy Week is quite something in Spain, particularly in Andalucia. Penitence features big time, and emotions relating to mother and Son are high. A school teacher told me that he had a close friend who is an atheist but every year is one of the many thousands who offer themselves to carry the ‘pasos’ on their shoulders and process through the streets. ‘Why does he do it?’, I asked. And the reply was it was a deep and privileged experience to see the tears and emotions on the peoples’ faces.
The first Easter when we were in Spain (2009) I was not happy seeing all of this, and Gayle with her wisdom quickly pulled me across the street while I was standing in the street to confront the procession… I have moved on from those days – after all I was way young back then! The shock though of the alien scene is what was provocative. I am sure there is also genuine faith among some who are attracted to the tradition and procession – same as with the Camino to Santiago.
Wright’s wonderful title ‘The Day the Revolution Began’ is of course all about the Easter event and its context. What kind of revolution is portrayed by the processions complete with statues, huge crowds and those hooded to mark the penitence surrounding the whole event? Certainly, for me with my background, it only portrays a cross that affects the spiritual, or maybe religious, part of life. But what about a narrow ‘evangelical’ gospel understanding of Easter? What kind of revolution is indicated in that message? Beyond that gospel we can have the ‘seven mountains’ of influence with its reliance on Kuyper and Reconstructionism, and of course a strong reformed theology of the sovereignty of God. At what point are we able to suggest that those are all ‘sub-‘gospels. Of course if I were to suggest that I would also have to accept that any understanding of the gospel I have is also ‘sub’.
I have had two provocative conversations in the past couple of days. One via email, where the issue of the Western world and how it is falling apart, with the cracks becoming ever more visible, raises the inevitable question of how much can we prop up, redeem the structures and how much are they simply to fall? I might not be representing the brief email conversation well, but the questions are vital ones for those of us who believe a revolution for the world began in Jerusalem that Passover time, and that the cross was not simply about making sure there is ‘a going to heaven ticket’ available from then on.
The second conversation was with Gayle who challenged my language that the body of Christ is to take responsibility for the world. I don’t think she was challenging the concept but the language. (Any volunteers to help me get her to a more compliant place????!!!!!) Language is so important. We might never get the right language and ultimately language is always co-opted by the powers to nullify what the language originally meant. So these two aspects have provoked me and in the light of the ‘sub’ nature of our understanding I will return to these elements in the next few days. I don’t plan – as if I could – to give anything definitive in response, but if there was a revolution that began, and we are in the midst of some of the greatest paradigm shifts, both in the theological / ecclesiastical realm, as well as in the world as a whole, I will at least give some attempt to some responses.
So on this great day… Blessed are the revolutionaries!!