On Easter Sunday, several years ago now, the Pastor of the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago was giving his last homily before he moved on to a new assignment, after years spent at the cathedral. It was a beautiful sermon. I can not hope to replicate it, but I can give you the gist:
Each of us, throughout our lives, go through stages, or chapters, and when the chapter ends, our old lives end. We die, enter a tomb of transition, and a short time later, like Christ on Easter, we must roll back the stone and emerge into a new life. For life is a constant series of dying and being reborn, from the chapters of experience and development, and even from one moment to the next. The old us is dead and we are being called to a new, different life. And, like a string of pearls, the tombs leave a record of who we were and our transformation.
I never did cotton to the idea of Jesus as a scapegoat for all of our sins and “saving us”. I always thought that the living Jesus and his message of peace was the core Christian message. But, this framing of the resurrection story made a kooky fairy tale into profound wisdom, something to be considered on every Easter and other days too.
Am I open to new life? Am I stuck in a tomb? Should I die, hopeful, to once again be reborn? Perhaps the message of Easter isn’t about Jesus and the Romans and events that happened thousands of years ago. Perhaps the message of Easter is about facing our own suffering and hopefully be resurrected, right here in this life.
Listen. In a perfect world, we’d all be able to work through our problems with love, compassion and understanding. We’d see that we are all flawed human beings looking for measures of love, respect and power over our lives.
But, we don’t live in that world. In our world, some people only understand violence. Some are so wounded that they have little to offer anyone else but a share of their suffering. Some only know how to take your time and energy and will give nothing in return. And there are others, so many others.
Perhaps, life is like the Chinese fable: Hell is a place with only six foot chopsticks and no one can feed themselves. And, heaven is a place with only six foot chopsticks, and everyone feeds everyone else. And maybe, it only takes a few people from hell to turn heaven into hell, and vice versa.
You may be an angel, ready to feed the world with your six foot chopsticks. And God bless you, sweet angel. But, a bit of advice: be prepared to run if the demons put you on the menu, and maybe pick a better hell next time.
Rough sketch of a story idea: Androids have taken over construction. They form construction families with specialized roles: Foreman, Support, Block & Tackle, Cut & Finisher, etc. They use 3D printers to print large sections of buildings, then they move and assemble them.
As embodied generalized artificial intelligences, each must periodically run their processors at reduced speeds, optimize data and learning algorithms, and perform maintenance tasks, such as cleaning their bodies of debris, oiling moving parts, applying self-repair nanoparticulate bandages to heal their android skin, charging their fusion reactors, etc.
During one evening, JE-5U5 decides to run a training algorithm on The Bible and other ancient spiritual texts in an effort to better communicate with humans. */e has an epiphany, a spiritual awakening and sees God.
The story follows precisely the path of Jesus, from returning to the job site and having people call h/* crazy, the preaching, the new family, the wandering in the desert, returning as a spiritual master, and eventually, destroyed as a threat to society, as has happened from Socrates, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
All rendered in a cyberpunk, possibly including a virtual reality environment that raises the question of whether the testings and miracles are real experience or virtual constructs.