by Mike Pyatt
For the first time since 1956, Easter Sunday falls on April 1st. April Fools’Day. Since1900, this has occurred only four times-1923, 1934, 1945, and 1956. It won’t happen again until 2029. Will there be a skirmish? A fictional story regarding April Fools’ Day recounts an aged disgruntled atheist, going to a court, with his attorney, to protest that atheists have no national holiday like Christians, and other religious groups, hoping the court would lend a sympathetic ear. They’d carped for years that Christians have the edge on holidays, dominating the calendar and the public square, using both to foist their onerous Christian dogma upon atheist. Before rendering a decision, the judge reminded the lawyer and client that they’ve a holiday, if they choose to acknowledge it. Both befuddled, quizzed the judge, “What holiday?” He replied, “April Fools’ Day, of course.” He quoted Psalm 14:1, “The fool said in his heart, there is no God.” He laughed,“Your holiday is coming.”
Many know the Bible doesn’t mention Easter. It’s likely a pagan Germanic goddess of fertility, Eostre, according to 7th & 8th century English Monk Bede. One needn’t get lost in the weeds on the question of origins. Jesus’ resurrection isn’t negated by pagan practices.
In an increasingly secularized society, there’s a troubling trend that elevates atheists to enlightened status-like the recently deceased astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Two 20th Century eminent scientists, Alfred North Whitehead and Robert Oppenheimer, would’ve rejected Hawking’s recrudescent atheism. Neither Christians, both agreed modern science advanced from a Christian worldview that the universe was orderly and discoverable. Hawking was adamant he didn’t need a Creator to expand his scientific ambit.
Isn’t it counter intuitive for most atheists to exhibit such hostility toward a God they claim doesn’t exist? G.K. Chesterton quipped, “If there were no God there would be no atheists.” Acerbic atheist, Christopher Hitchens, spent his last days in MD Anderson Center reading Ian Ker’s massive 730 page biography, G.K. Chesterton-and Chesterton’s own poetry and prose. No reported death bed conversion. Some cite Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s axiom, “The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.” Psalm 14:1 isn’t about one who’s merely conflicted about God’s existence. It’s one who unapologetically and unflinchingly denies it with every fibre of one’s being-resolute to drag one’s defiant carcass to eternal perdition.
Atheists’ holiday calendar resembles the Maytag repairman’s. Christians claim Christmas Eve, Christmas, Lent, Good Friday, and Easter. Couldn’t we charitably donate Halloween to the atheists, to accompany April Fool’s Day, partially assuaging their isolated feelings? One theory of April Fools’ Day’s origin is that it began in the 16th century when Charles IX, following the Gregorian calendar, decreed January 1,1562, as the official New Year, instead of March/April 1st, equinox. Those, therefore, who persisted in honoring April 1st, were teased, scorned, and ridiculed as “fools.” Others pranked them, much as many do in the U.S. and worldwide. The celebration spread from France to England, then to America.
It’ll take a radical unmasking of this faux Easter menagerie culture, that in recent years, in our progressively secular society, has cast an ominous shadow over the water shed event of history-the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. That historical fact shocks the system of recent secular generations, reared on the pervasive Cadbury Bunny philosophy. The landscape of our neighborhoods where houses, trees, yards and fences are adorned with plastic eggs of all sizes, cardboard ducks, and bunnies that reflect the dominant culture of the Easter season. The White House has been in the “Easter Egg Roll” business since1878. Wyoming Governor Mead will follow suit, on a slightly smaller scale at the Cheyenne mansion. Trendy churches are not far behind the fray, with a stated “higher purpose” of course.
Absent a reintroduction of what was once the central motif of the early disciples, and for another two millennia, we risk the loss of another generation to the Easter Bunny mentality, that’ll be transmitted like a cholera epidemic to future generations. The birth of the church itself is inexplicable without this event, “On the third day,” a fact so well etched into history, that only the staunchest atheist or skeptic would dare deny. Even Malcolm Muggeridge’s Christian “drama-mysticism” unmoored the Resurrection from history’s roots. To scoffer and other naturalist, the fact of the Resurrection is an indigestible root. Jesus staked his entire reputation as a teacher of the Truth upon the prediction He would rise from the grave. It’s the only hypothesis which makes peace with all the historical facts. The narrative of the book of Acts explains the transformation of the post resurrection behavior of those closest to the event. James the former skeptic, took the helm of the church in Jerusalem. Peter had returned to fishing in Galilee, but later crashed onto the Jerusalem scene to announce the Resurrection. It’s the fulcrum of Christian apologetics. Satisfying the heart and mind.
Over the centuries various theories by naysayer and skeptic have been foisted upon history to explain away the Resurrection. Such theories are harder to digest than the Biblical account itself. It’s widely reported that at the core of many attempted suicides is the absolute loss of hope. The Resurrection renews that hope absent in other fallacious and fleeting sophistries. C.S. Lewis observed, “Something perfectly new in history of the Universe happened. Christ had defeated death.” The only answer to our Fallen estate. At the forefront of historical evidence for a miracle of Christianity, stands the empty tomb. Following atheists to their logical conclusions, their world ends on Good Friday.
Easter has largely jumped the banks from Christianity. It’s not the Easter Bunny’s fault. It’s our failure to set forth our case of the Truth of the Biblical account. What have you told your children or grandchildren? What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org