Monday 2 May 2005

He Saved The World A Lot

Easter Day is well past now, but in the early days after that Holy day, I was left with a few thoughts and ideas that seemed worthy of their own category. In the intervening time, while I've formed these ideas into a cohesive shape and injected them with my typical vitriolic humour, the death of Pope John Paul II occured, and introduced the Theology category, a bit differently than I had planned.

That being said, without any further ado, let me present my Theology category, and it's *ahem* Second Hurrah. Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to share my future meanderings down this path with you all. Do note that I get the irony that at least a portion of my audience is atheist (the adjective, not the noun), and either doesn't care or will want to pull their eyes out. Well, here's your chance!

In this age where humanism and spiritualism are digging their claws into each other, if one asked a (nominally) Christian group to name somebody who gave up his or her life to save humanity, you'd be as likely to get Jesus as your answer as you would to get Buffy Summers, the Vampire Slayer. You're welcome to deride this statement's validity all you like; the statement is certainly open to debate, and it is absolutely not based on scientific assessment or statistical analysis in any way. However, some statements I heard during the Holy Week observances led me to consider these issues, and this similarity anyway.

Before I go any further, I think it's important to admit that I don't know who Jesus was. I don't know whether he actually was actually borne of Mary, a virgin, whether he died on a cross, what he did between these things, or whether he was the son of God. I'm not sure how important the answers to these questions are either, in the scheme of things. Many of the important lessons of the Christian faith tradition don't come from the death of Jesus (or the Resurrection), but from his life, or rather, the stories of it that have been passed to us, from ancient generations, through scripture. Is every story about Jesus in the New Testament true? Probably not. But we can find, generally, a snapshot of someone who cared for others despite their cultural background, and despite their past actions.

But that wasn't the point of this conversation.

On Good Friday this year, I heard something that had been said on many previous Easter Days, but which I actually processed this time, for the first time. There's a line from the Apostle's Creed, which, by the way, we don't say very often in the United Church, which is why I only hear it on Easter at the Chapel. It goes simply like this:

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.

He descended in to Hell. It's not a part of the story with which I'm particularly comfortable. I don't like to hear this; that suffering, even for the sins of the world, is an integral (some would say) part of my faith. Fortunately for me, the meaning of this line of the Creed has been debated by smarter people than I for centuries; they call it the Harrowing of Hell.

But, really, that wasn't my point either.

Buffy Summers. Jesus Christ. Both were called, for want of a better world, to some task greater than themselves. Both surrounded themselves with a community of friends, drawn from many walks of life and from outside what one might consider the "mainstream", to share in their lives and in their work. Both ultimately died to save the world from evil. Both, in the context of their experience and in the words of their time, asked that "this cup might pass me by".

Except Jesus died, this Apostle's Creed says, and went to Hell. And Buffy died and went to Heaven.

I wonder if this dichotomy means anything. I haven't quite figured it out yet.

Or maybe I'm just completely off my rocker.

So anyway, to borrow and mangle Buffy's epitaph: "Jesus Christ: He saved the World a lot."


  1. Pilates? Is that the guy who sentenced Jesus?
    No, it's a different guy....

    Everyone should watch Corner Gas :)

  2. Fascinating blog entry. That phrase always resonated with me. At home we read the Apostle’s Creed every month at communion so I’m quite familiar with it. I’m sure that was quite important to people around those living in AD (insert small number here) – “what about my grandfather that died a day before Jesus?” It’s that recurring idea of ultimate sacrifice. It does appear that Buffy fits into that, until, as you say, the very end where she goes to Heaven as her reward for all her service. Perhaps it is because she is *a* saviour, not *the* Saviour. Perhaps it is because she sacrificed almost unwillingly, and wasn’t willing to go all the way. Perhaps it is because a secular, American audience wouldn’t have understood. Perhaps it’s just TV and we shouldn’t look at it too closely ;)

  3. Please, no more Buffy analogies, especially not in this column. :) I'm disturbingly close to vomitting.

    "name somebody who gave up his or her life to save humanity" - well, how about Gandhi?


  4. Or the hundreds of thousands of men and women who risked their lives in the 1st and 2nd world wars....

    Happy Dutch Liberation Day.

  5. The repeated references to Buffy existed because the similarities between those two people was the subject about which I was writing. So, really...

    Your examples of people who gave up their lives are very good ones, and I never said that my readers were a mere average (nominally) Christian group. Its obvious to me that you're all quite exceptional. ;-)

  6. Buffy was in hell once, and I would like to think that Jesus is now in heaven......