Linda Downing

Embrace the real message of Easter

No religion stirs more public pressure to bend on its foundational principles than Christianity. What the Bible — the guidebook for Christians — teaches is and will increasingly be viewed as extremism. If preachers preach what the Bible says, they will soon be viewed as hatemongers and censured for hate speech. There is no turning back the clock on this unless we as a nation embrace the Easter message — the real message.
Quicker than atheists to take umbrage with that first paragraph will be those who argue the use of the word “Easter.” They are right. It would be far better to speak of “Resurrection Sunday,” but we have greater problems than our terminology.
Oh, we celebrate Easter — as we do our other major holidays — with customs that vary from sweet traditions to pagan rites. We all know the commercial symbols, and we’ve made a lot of people rich marketing them. We all know that the nation’s major holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter — have their roots in Christianity.
Yet, we increasingly desire to secularize all celebrations. We increasingly desire to secularize all moral questions, and we know the questions wrestle hard topics: abortion, public prayer, gay rights and many more. We also know the answers, but we pronounce them too hard, unworkable and unfair; in short, impossible and politically incorrect.
Being our own gods is producing undeniable results bordering on mayhem and the greatest disunity in the nation’s history. We are in a late, midlife crisis.
Solving it, even living through it, takes more than studies comparing humans with chimpanzees and orangutans. That’s what Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at the University of Warwick in England, presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012. After monitoring 508 great apes, Oswald concluded that like us, they face midlife upset and that discontent may be in our DNA rather than a reaction to life’s stresses.
We cannot help ourselves. That is part of what Easter is about.
San Francisco researchers published a “mortality index” in early March in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It pinpoints 12 signs showing patients who will “probably” die within 10 years, thus helping doctors to bypass “useless” tests. The index helps satisfy “people’s morbid curiosity.”
Unless Jesus returns first — another thing Christians are supposed to proclaim and look forward to — we will die. No scientific index is needed to admit that death is one breath away.
Most of us fall prey to something psychiatry calls the “impostor syndrome.” We sometimes feel inadequate, worrying that we may not be who others think we are. Comedian Tina Fey quips: “Seriously, I’ve just realized that almost everyone is a fraud, so I try not to feel too bad about it.”
True meaning of Christianity’s Easter? God covered our questions, inconsistencies, inadequacies, discontent, and deaths by coming to earth as a Jewish man named “Yeshua” or “Jesus.” Why? The biblical answer is “because He wanted to.” Believing Jesus lived, died, and rose again bypasses morbidity and embraces life. Believers must “go tell” (Matthew 28:10).

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together—side-by-side.

Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at