"When did the collision between our appetites and the needs of our souls happen? Was there a heart attack? Did we get laid off from work, one of the thousands certified as extraneous? Did a beloved child become a bored stranger, a marriage fall silent and cold? Or, by some exquisite working of God's grace, did we just find the courage to look the truth in the eye, for once, and not blink? How did we come to know we were dying a slow and unacknowledged death? And that the only way back to life was to set all our packages down and begin again, carrying with us only what we really needed?
We travail. we are heavy laden. Refresh us, O homeless, possession-less Savior. You came naked, and naked you go. And so it is for us. So it is for all of us." (Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, in Living Lent: Meditations for These Forty Days)
Yesterday I received an email advertisement from Rhapsody.com. It invited me to "click here for a special playlist "celebrating egg-bearing rabbits, family, food, Spring, and the Resurrection." I did. It was interesting what the marketing folks at Rhapsody thought I should be listening to this Easter. Here's the entire playlist:
"Peter Cottontail, " by Gene Autry. Innocuous bit of fluff, you might call this a 60-year old classic of the Easter Bunny version of Easter.
"April, Come She Will," by Simon and Garfunkel. Hmm. Yes, it has "April," but it also has May and June. Nice song but someone chose a bit hastily, I think.
"Easter Parade," by Sarah Vaughn. Another classic for the secularized Easter. "She'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade"??
"Up Jumped Spring," by Abbey Lincoln and Stan Getz. Jazzy tune, once again devoted to Spring, not Easter.
"April in Paris," by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Another jazz number. Our Rhapsody marketer thinks April is really BIG.
Wondering where "resurrection" is? Just hang on.
"Easter Parade," by The Real Tuesday Weld. From the album "I, Lucifer"??? Same song as above but quite sinister in its performance. And the album title. . . .
"April Showers," by Arthur Prysock. Never heard of him. But hey. April's REALLY BIG, right? Feels like a nightclub in here. Our marketer likes the Sunday brunch music.
"Brand New Day," by Van Morrison. Ah. A breath of fresh air. Not specifically about the Resurrection, but at least it's about one man's new hope. Beautiful morning sun. "Seems like a brand new day."
"Easter Bunny Boogie," by William Clarke. Jazz is big on Easter, I guess, for all those Easter Jazz Brunches. Another one for the Bunny.
Sweet Kentucky Ham, by Rosemary Clooney. Sitting in restaurants or hotel rooms in various cities, eating what you can, thinkin' about that "Sweet Kentucky Ham" you really want. Hmm. I guess this is the "food" part, but it has absolutely nothing to do with Easter.
"Resurrection," by Spear of Destiny. This is it! Nope. I'm not sure what resurrection this is about, but it's not the one that matters. Very strange. And it refers to a "fallen angel."
White Rabbit," by Jefferson Airplane. Yikes! A psychedelic rock song form the Sixties? Wrong rabbit, too. This song about popping pills and hallucinating is not for the Easter Bunny set.
"I'm the Easter Bunny," by Dr. Elmo. Self-explanatory silliness.
The Start of Forever," by Paul Weller. Feels like a long time. I've been waiting forever for you. The start of forever. Acid jazz. I'm not sure how this one meets the criteria.
Rebirth, by Stefon Harris. Promising title. Instrumental jazz piece. Good for brunch. I guess it fits the Spring theme.
Well, that's it. Not one single song about THE Resurrection. A bunch of bunny songs, paeans to Spring, and some weird stuff as well. This is Rhapsody's Easter.
Really, this is to be expected. What is interesting to me is the post-modern nature of such a mix, the different narratives (stories) represented. There's the Bunny -- a well known narrative. Family and tradition (the Easter parade). There's Spring (rebirth, April). There's a representation as to Resurrection, but it's really not there. You put all these narratives together and the message is that Easter means whatever you want it to mean. Pick a story you enjoy.
The larger narrative, the bigger message, is the one Barbara Crafton touches on in the quote we began with. Easter is like all the other holidays in America -- it's about buying, about satisfying our appetites, the lust of the eye and of the flesh. It's the narrative of consumption. The best we can say is that it is trite. The truth is that we are sick with having what we want and hungry for what we refuse to accept: Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus lives. That's the real Easter. Naked we go, folks. No bunnies allowed.