How The West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision
John Dominic Crossan
Sarah Sexton Crossan
If you have been raised in a liturgical culture Lent is a time of introspection, of thinking about personal shortcomings. In the days of the Corona Virus however your 2020 Lenten journey might have concentrated uncomfortably more on societal shortcomings, not necessarily a bad thing. Why do medicine and politics negatively interact? Who is most susceptible to contracting the virus and why? Does recent clearing of the air in polluted cities tell us anything about how we live? Is health about me or us? There is no shortage of troubling issues to ponder, but Lent does morph into Easter, and since Easter can’t be celebrated in community this year, what could be done privately?
I would suggest John and Sarah Crossan’s book, Resurrecting Easter. At first glance this looks like a coffee table book, but it is much more. If plowing through abstract theology or inspirational preaching aren’t your first choice for thinking about the meaning of life, consider allowing the Crossans to lead you through 2 millennia of Christian iconology. You will learn how to ‘read’ the symbolism in the images and see how communities nuanced their understanding of Resurrection over time. And more importantly you will come to appreciate how Western Christianity fundamentally diverged from Eastern Christianity in its understanding of Easter.
When you assume everyone more or less thinks like you do about a topic what is the big deal? On the other hand, when you learn that a whole huge segment of Christianity sees a core tenant of faith with a different twist, that might be worth thinking about. Resurrection imagery in the East looks different than we have culturally come to expect in the West, for a reason. The Western Church could learn a lot understanding how the Eastern Church presents Easter. And the pictures and the Crossan’s wonderful writing style make it fun.