In Sunday school, of course, Easter was always a hot topic. Something about a bunch of guys having an orgy in a room who are accidentally drugged and have a collective hallucination that acts as Event One for 2000 years of mass murder, rape, and extreme inhumanity.
What I loved is that the teachers had the Passion broken down hour by hour. On Good Friday, we could follow along with the timeline of Jesus’ final hours. My mom, who had adopted the dubious label of “born again Catholic,” absolutely loved this. Easter began on Thursday night (the Last Supper – 6pm EST) and went through to Sunday. The hourly breakdown was drilled into me at home and at school in the weeks leading up to the Easter break. (Which may explain why, when I left Catholic school and went to public school in the 7th grade, I had never seen fractions before.)
The timing is all rooted in the Bible, allegedly. For example, Friday starts out at 6am with Jesus before Pilate. This comes from John 18:28. They take Jesus from his less than happy meeting with Caiaphas to Pilate’s HQ and “By now, it was early morning,” so the Jews couldn’t enter the Palace and we get our shouty scene with Pilate.
John does get fairly specific about timing. Pilate does condemn Jesus to be crucified at “about noon.” John is also where we find Pilate’s powerful unanswered question. Probably the most important thing for Bible doubters to latch onto. Pilate asks “What is truth?” and Jesus shrugs off the question. Which is weird, because John’s version of the trail shows a much more communicative Jesus, as opposed to the sulky bitch who just refuses to answer questions. In the other gospels, Pilate bends over backwards to save the poor bastard, but Jesus makes no reply except to act like an eight year old.
“Are you king of the Jews?”
“Yeah, whatever man. Fuck you.”
Ugh… What a cunt.
But John’s Jesus goes into full on lawyer mode. He even calls Pilate out on the delicate political situation and Pilate’s all like, OMG, yes!
Jesus is even a bit more open about denying that he’s a king. Instead of being sulky, he says he’s only come into the world to testify to the truth. But, there, it falls apart. Pilate asks his question and Jesus doesn’t answer.
So, okay, you’re only here for the truth but…you don’t know what that truth is?
Now, my nun teachers said that it’s up to us to understand the truth. But that’s kind of stupid, I think. This isn’t a fucking movie or a thriller novel, is it? If Jesus just answered Pilate, Pilate would have probably still freaked out and handed down a judgment. It’s not like the story would end.
In fact, if it were a movie, that would be a major plothole. Wait, wait! What about the trial scene? He never answered that question!
Anyway…back to the timeline. So, 6am Friday. Mom would wake me up and we would read through the sections of the Bible related to each part of the passion. Jesus before Pilate, then being sent to Herod. At 7am he’s returned to Pilate and sentenced to death (except for John who puts this at noon). At 8am, Jesus is led off to Calvary where he really acts like a bitch and keeps dropping the cross and gets one final tryst with a prostitute. Or, at least, her cloak. My sweat, your blouse, now! Oh, yeah…that’s the stuff.
9am, Jesus is crucified. This comes from Mark – “The third hour.” We were taught that “in Jewish time,” the “third hour” was 9am. Eastern Standard, I guess.
Jesus then fucking lingers all morning. Lots are cast, soldierly mocking, he chats amiably with John and Mary and the two thieves, then, at noon, the “sixth hour” (Mark, again), things start to get freaky. Darkness over the land, Jesus starts to cry out like a loon, and then calmly asks for a drink. We’re to be horrified that the soldiers first offer him vinegar and myrrh and some shit. We’re not told in Sunday school that the soldiers were actually trying to help him and, if he wasn’t such a bitch and sucked some of that down, he would have tranced out and felt no pain.
Then – insult to injury – they give him bad wine. Which was also somewhat humanitarian, all things considered, but the nuns and mom were all like, how dare they! They should have offered him a fine Beaujolais! But noooo…
Then he kicks it. The “ninth hour.”
PS: Yes, that means I sat there for nine fucking hours going over this fucking gloomy shit on a perfectly fine holiday Friday year after motherfucking year.
Not that I’m bitter…
Thankfully, the Jews have their thing on the weekend so, come sunset on Friday, I get to enjoy the holiday. Extra TV time, I get my daily can of Coke, I play in the yard. On Saturday I ignore the squabbling family and play with my Legos. Then – boom! Easter Sunday, and we’re back to meditating on the resurrection and what it means. We drag ass to church at the crack of dawn then, at home, I spend the day sneaking jelly beans while the rest of the fucking New Testament is read to me and I’m thinking, man, all this for someone who is clearly a pansy-ass ninny? Even as a kid, I sat there wondering what the big deal was. Here’s this guy wandering around crying – we would call him emo today – and hanging out with hookers and not very likable guys. You really don’t get a fix on any of the apostles, except that they’re all shifty fucks out to save their own skin when the chips are down and, when things are good, are a bunch of willfully ignorant yes-men.
The only character I ever identified with was poor Pilate. In every gospel, he really tries to save Jesus. He hates the whole ordeal. You even get his wife popping up in one or two gospels, and she acts almost as a chorus, speaking for the audience. Don’t get involved! This shit’s fucked up!
The nuns and mom all despised Pilate and painted him as evil. I was taught that he ultimately died “pissing worms because he was responsible for the death of Christ.” But…no. The situation is very clear. He’s in a bad spot, and has no choice.
Ah, well. But what do I know? Certainly not the truth.